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Vin Lananna tries to elevate the World Indoor Track Championships above the problems

Published Jan 01, 0001

The sport was dogged over the summer by bad publicity.

We're less than six months away from the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships and World Track & Field Indoor Championships, which will be staged back-to-back at the Oregon Convention Center, and Vin Lananna has an unanticipated problem.

He has unsold tickets.

"I'm a little surprised," Lananna says of Portland's apparent unwillingness to totally embrace the two events - at least, so far.

Lananna is president of the Eugene-based TrackTown USA organizing committee, which is staging the meets.

The U.S. indoor championships are March 11-12, with the world championships to follow, March 17-20. Seating capacity in the convention center will be 7,000.

If the meets were in Eugene, it's possible every seat would be gone.

"I don't think there is enough understanding of what indoor track actually is," Lananna says. "It seems to be a little bit of a foreign concept."

Well, that might be one problem. There are others.

Let's start with sensational allegations in June of rule-breaking use of banned performance drugs and misuse of prescription drugs by the Portland-based Nike Oregon Project.

A runner singled out was Galen Rupp, who prepped at Portland's Central Catholic before going on to star at the University of Oregon and win a 2012 Olympic silver medal in the 10,000 meters.

None of the allegations was proven when they were made. None has been proven since.

Rupp denied them emphatically. They were rebutted vehemently in an open letter written by Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar.

"I don't know if that had an impact," Lananna says. "I think it's more that it was a missed opportunity for us to really celebrate the great athletes we have in the state of Oregon."

In August, just as World Indoor tickets went on sale, USA Track & Field and U.S. 800-meter champion Nick Symmonds were locked in a contentious, well-publicized dispute over the organization's insistence that Team USA athletes wear only Nike-branded clothing while traveling to the World Outdoor Championships.

Nike sponsors the U.S. track team. Symmonds is sponsored by Brooks.

Symmonds, brandishing a letter from USA Track & Field telling athletes on the team only to pack Nike clothing or clothing without a logo, refused to sign a required statement of conditions and was left home.

A collegiate star at Willamette University in Salem who ran for years as part of Eugene-based Oregon Track Club Elite, Symmonds remains unrepentant. He says he still is waiting for an apology from USA Track & Field.

Nick SymmondsNick Symmonds 

"USATF has been bullying athletes for years," he says. "I'm going to continue to demand more of them."

Symmonds says he hopes the issues that have been a bone of contention between USA Track & Field and athletes with their own individual sponsors can be hammered out in the organization's annual meeting in Houston, Dec. 2-6.

If not, they could flare just as Lananna is trying to pull off the first World Indoor Championships to be held in the U.S. since 1987.

Lananna believes U.S. athletes will rally around the two meets.

For most, it will be the only opportunity in their short athletic careers to compete in a World Championships on U.S. soil.

But what about the fans? How soon will they get on board? Or will they?

Lananna has plans to push a groundswell if he can.

He is floating a proposal to set up the track to be used for the USATF and World Indoor meets in a vacant warehouse in Northwest Portland during the period leading up to the meets.

He would bring in lighting and open it up to the community. He asks only not to be charged rent for use of the city-owned warehouse.

He envisions all-comers meets, high school meets, maybe a few college meets.

One idea would be to match the city police department against the fire department in an indoor meet, bring in officials and keep score.

The thinking is, if people are exposed, they will be hooked.

Because once you get past the flotsam left by unsubstantiated allegations and the sport's internal politics and get down to the basics of running, jumping, throwing and head-to-head competition, this can become addictive.

Lananna remains optimistic.

"It's going to be exciting," he says. "I think we're going to see two great events."

-- Ken Goe

503-221-8040 | @KenGoe

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Portland City Council should support 'pop up' track proposal: Editorial Agenda 2015

Published Jan 01, 0001

Portland City Council gets some things wrong – proposing and clinging to the arts tax, anyone? – and when it does commissioners hear about it. But the Council gets a lot right, too, including its willingness to embrace the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships, which Portland will host in March. The Council has expressed its support with...

Portland City Council gets some things wrong - proposing and clinging to the arts tax, anyone? - and when it does commissioners hear about it. But the Council gets a lot right, too, including its willingness to embrace the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships, which Portland will host in March. The Council has expressed its support with money, budgeting almost $2 million for the event, and also with flexibility. In August, commissioners OK'd a land use-code waiver allowing for the assembly of the track in an empty warehouse in a heavy industrial zone. Gotta make sure all the pieces are there, you know.
Editorial Agenda 2015

Make Portland a city that works
Get pot right

Smart choices for education

Help rural Oregon

Keep people and goods moving

Foster small business growth

Track health reforms

Read more about the editorial board's priorities for Oregon.

The reasons for the Council's posture are obvious enough. It's not often that Portland has a chance to host a global sports event, and this one happens to dovetail with one of the region's most important economic sectors: the sportswear industry. The thousands of people who'll come here to spectate and participate, meanwhile, are going to spend money on hotels, restaurants and so forth. With any luck they'll return home and tell their friends what a great place Portland is.

The championships' local benefits could be even greater, however, with just a small amount of additional flexibility on the city's part. The benefits will be impossible to quantify in terms of dollars and cents because they'll consist almost entirely of fun, which is the thing that gets kids interested in running, jumping and throwing in the first place. What event organizers are proposing is also uniquely Portland: a pop-up track.

Beginning next month, the track ordered for the world championships will be assembled in an empty, city-owned warehouse on Northwest Front Avenue. It will sit there for several months before being taken apart and reassembled at the Oregon Convention Center, which in March will host both the U.S. track and field championships and world championships. The track could spend those months unused in the currently vacant warehouse. Or it could be used by the community, hosting, for instance, track meets at which local high school and club runners could compete between cross country and outdoor track seasons.

Especially for a community as averse to waste as Portland, squandering such an opportunity would be a mistake. Though indoor tracks are common on the East Coast, where winters are long and harsh, they're comparatively rare in the West. Racing on a 200-meter track (half the length of a standard outdoor track) with banked turns would have real novelty appeal for young, local athletes. Giving them a chance to race on the track ordered for the world championships, meanwhile, would be like opening up the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to anyone with a car. What gear head wouldn't want to drive on that?

But where, you ask, does the flexibility come in? Primarily in the form of free use of the warehouse. If the city charges for the use of the building, meet organizers will not spend the additional money needed to install lighting and make other improvements that would allow for community use, says TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna, who's largely responsible for bringing the world championships to Portland. If organizers don't have to pay rent, they'll put up lights and open the facility to the community.

Waiving rent in this fashion would amount to a subsidy of sorts, but the city would get public use of the track in return. Meanwhile, the warehouse site, bought by the city years ago as part of its Big Pipe project, is empty. Owned by the Bureau of Environmental Services, it is for sale under a program developed by Commissioner Nick Fish to convert surplus property into cash. The track would occupy the building for a brief period during the waning months of public ownership.

The organizers and the city have been ironing out the details, and the only sensitivity derives from the property's status as a public-utility asset. The city in the not-too-distant past has endured justified criticism for using ratepayer funds for projects that have little, if anything, to do with core utility services. And it's safe to say, if you want to get technical about it, that waiving consideration for the use of an empty warehouse as Lananna proposes has nothing to do with core utility services.

There is, however, a big difference between allowing free, beneficial use of a nonproducing asset and, say, spending $1.5 million in water bureau funds to spruce up the headquarters of the Rose Festival Foundation. Portland ratepayers may recognize that both uses are off-mission, but they're sensible enough to see the difference. Bring on the pop-up track.

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The Oregon men are sixth and the UO women seventh in the lastest college cross country rankings

Published Jan 01, 0001

The Colorado and Stanford men are ranked No. 1 and No. 2.

BBMLUQCZJEWNCKG.20130910234948.jpgEdward Cheserek 

The University of Oregon men are ranked sixth and the UO women seventh in the most recent college cross country ranking released Tuesday by the USTFCCCA.

Other Pac-12 men's teams to be ranked in the top 15 include No. 1 Colorado, No. 2 Stanford and No. 12 UCLA.

Oregon junior Edward Cheserek is the two-time defending NCAA individual champion.

Other Pac-12 women's teams to be ranked in the top 15 include No. 3 Colorado, No. 5 Stanford and No. 14 Washington. New Mexico is the No. 1-ranked women's team.

The Ducks are next in action on Friday, Oct. 2 at the Washington Invitational in Seattle.

Here are the complete USTFCCCA releases on the men's rankings and on the women's rankings.

-- Ken Goe

503-221-8040 | @KenGoe

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The Oregon Ducks announce a transfer-laden track & field recruiting class

Published Jan 01, 0001

The Ducks have six transfers.

The Oregon track & field program put the finishing touches on the 2015 recruiting class, announcing 12 more incoming athletes, six of them transfers.

Included are graduate transfers Ryan Gil of Georgetown, the reigning men's Big East Conference steeplechase champ, and Danielle Barbian of Harvard, who owns the Ivy League women's indoor records in the 60 and 200 meters, and is the reigning Ivy League outdoor 100 champ.

Also joining the Ducks are Jessica Hull, the Australian 2015 national junior 1,500 champion, and Monique Stander, a transfer from the University of Johannesburg who has a personal record in the 800 of 2 minutes, 2.57 seconds.

Oregonians include hurdler Madi Greenleaf (Lakeridge), a transfer from UCLA, hammer thrower Max Lydum of Central High School of Independence and Jackson Van Vuren, a javelin thrower from Faith Bible Christian of Hillsboro.

Here is the complete UO release about Oregon's entire 2015 recruiting class.

-- Ken Goe

503-221-8040 | @KenGoe

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Join Ken Goe's live chat during Utah-Utah State: Talk that game, Pac-12, Ducks, Beavers or whatever

Published Jan 01, 0001

We can chat about whatever is on your mind.

I'll be chatting during Friday night's nonconference college football game between No. 24 Utah and Utah State.

We can talk about that game, about the games tomorrow between Oregon and Michigan State, and Oregon State and Michigan, or the Pac-12 in general.

Heck, we can even talk about unbeaten Portland State's game at Idaho State, track & field or the Janet Jackson concert that colleague Gina Mizell is planning to attend.

It's all on the table.

Utah-Utah State is under way. Jump into the comments below to chat.

-- Ken Goe

503-221-8040 | @KenGoe

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