From Pre to Tomorrow: The Magic of TrackTown, USA
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Venue: First United Methodist Church
1376 Olive Street
NOTE: No lunch.
Ask a question of the speakers! Text it to 541.485.7433 during the program.
Watch the program via livestream: https://youtu.be/M7prGKsyNfE
This City Club will be recorded on Day 3 of the USA Track & Field National Championships and less than a month before Eugene hosts the Oregon22 World Athletics Championships from July 15-24. Living out its “TrackTown USA” moniker, Eugene is the first U.S. city to host the World Athletics Championships.
In spring 1975, weeks before his death, Steve Prefontaine had invited the Finnish National Team—including his Olympic rival, Lasse Viren—to the Pacific Northwest for a series of track meets that would end in a duel at Hayward Field. The meet was billed as an unabashed rematch of the 1972 Munich Olympic 5,000m final, where Viren won gold and Prefontaine fell to fourth after taking the lead with a mile to go.
Oregon Track Club’s archived newsletters recount the remarkable summer competition series that had been planned by Prefontaine and others. The origin story of “Hayward Magic” lives with remarkable events such as these, where the best in the world were drawn to Eugene, facing off in record-setting match-ups to the delight of an indominable, appreciative home crowd.
This July, a small town in the Willamette Valley will once again welcome the Finnish National Team—but this time, the host is Creswell’s Lonn Robertson, a local running coach who has spent the past year preparing to host the Finns in the weeks before the World Athletics Championships, Oregon22.
Hundreds of high-school athletes will also travel to Eugene to participate in the local running culture during this week’s USATF National Championships and in July for the Oregon22 meet. And thousands of international visitors and local fans will line the streets of Eugene and Springfield as the Oregon22 Marathon Championship loops three times between Pioneer Parkway and the Ferry Street Bridge before finishing near Autzen Stadium.
The individual and collective efforts of today’s speakers reach into the history of Eugene’s running culture and also toward its future. Lonn Robertson is a running coach and the host to the Finnish National Team; Ian Dobson is the Eugene Marathon Race Director and a 2008 Olympian; and Craig Leon is an accomplished professional marathoner and instructor in the UO Business School’s Warsaw Sports Marketing program.
Title: Race Director
Organization: Eugene Marathon
Ian Dobson is Race Director of the Eugene Marathon, coach of the elite local running group Team Run Eugene, and a 2008 Olympian in the 5,000 meter. Dobson grew up in Klamath Falls, and is an Oregon state champion, Stanford University record holder, 10-time All-American, and NCAA Champion. He represented the United States in multiple international championships from 2005-2012.
Title: Program Manager, MBA Sports Marketing
Organization: Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, University of Oregon
Craig Leon is an accomplished professional marathon runner with top-10 finishes at both the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon. It is running that brought Leon and his wife Juli to Eugene from Ohio; they now own the Mount Tom House and recently co-founded Tracktown Retreats. Leon also works as an instructor of Sport Business and serves as the MBA Program Manager for the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
Organization: Team 5AM Madness
Lonn Robertson is a retired dentist and coach of the elite local running group Team 5AM Madness with Dr. Jenn Lewis. A life-long lover of running and TrackTown, Robertson, a long-term resident of Creswell, has spent the past year coordinating and preparing facilities to host the Finnish National Team in Creswell for 10 days prior to the 2022 World Championships.