Every Major American Track Meet, Cross Country Meet, and Championship Road Race Awarded to Eugene

By Tim Silva
April 1, 2024

Eugene, Oregon, has been granted the exclusive right to host every major American track meet, cross county meet, and championship road race, effective immediately, in perpetuity. The announcement was made yesterday jointly by USA Track & Field, the NCAA, and TrackTown USA. This follows the announcement last September that Hayward Field at University of Oregon had been awarded the hosting rights for the 2024 Track and Field Olympic Trials. It marked the fifth straight time Eugene organizers had been selected to run the highly prestigious quadrennial competition. At the time, literally no one was surprised.

Hayward Field Hayward Field (Kevin Morris photo)

Some observers, however, may be surprised by this latest announcement, in part because of the hugely expanded scope of the events involved. Eugene had already been selected (again, to no one’s surprise) to host the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Championships, but now the University of Oregon will also be putting on both the East and West regionals leading up to the NCAA Championships, as well as all other major invitational open and collegiate track meets, even those held for many decades at other institutions, including the Mt. SAC Relays, the Penn Relays, the Texas Relays, and the Drake Relays. Yes, those events also will henceforth take place at Oregon’s Hayward Field.

Article continues below player.

Further, beginning in 2025 the NCAA Indoor Championships and all major indoor meets for professionals — including the New Balance Indoor Games, the Millrose Games, and the USATF Indoor Championships — will also be hosted by the University of Oregon, even though the university does not currently have a suitable indoor venue. University officials called this a “minor detail that will be dealt with in due time in a way that only we can do.”

Major NCAA invitational cross country meets, regional meets, and the national championships—plus the USATF club and open championships—will also be held at Hayward beginning next season. The agreement calls for thousands of truckloads of dirt to be dumped over the track and infield, shaped into hills and valleys, and covered with sod to create a viewer- and TV-friendly criterion-style XC course.

Hayward Field for XC

All USATF championship road races, ranging from one mile to ultramarathons, also will henceforth be held at the Hayward Field. The all-weather track will be removed ahead of each road race, revealing a smooth asphalt surface underneath, then reinstalled afterward. As one exciting example for later this year, the famous Fifth Avenue Mile will now involve four laps around a paved Hayward oval. For events longer than 20K, the course will be allowed to include Eugene streets surrounding Haward Field, but those road races will start and finish inside the stadium.

The busy schedule of preparing for and hosting amateur and professional track and XC meets will unfortunately require University of Oregon track and field athletes to do all their workouts at South Eugene High School, but such is the cost of having a highly telegenic venue that has repeatedly demonstrated the impressive ability to fill up to one-third of the seats. And when that hasn’t been possible, the organizers have adeptly displayed large advertisements over vast unoccupied seating sections, which USATF head Max Siegel has called “maximizing the sponsor experience.”

An NCAA official in attendance at the public announcement of this sweeping decision said, “Why would anyone ever want to run or jump or throw anywhere else?” To which Michael Reilly, CEO of TrackTown USA, quickly added, “That’s a rhetorical question, folks.”

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free LetsRun.com Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards