It’s June, which means it is track and field time, with the month shaping up to be a busy one both locally and nationally for fans and athletes. On tap in June are the NCAA track and field championships, the Olympic Trials, the Colorado state high school meet and the Boulder Road Runners All Comers Summer Series.
First up are the NCAA championships, set for historic, renovated Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., Wednesday through Saturday. Eight University of Colorado athletes are competing. Then comes the June 18-27 USA Olympic Team Trials, also at Hayward Field. The Trials are likely to be, as in past years, a highlight rivaling the Olympic Games themselves because the meet brings together the depth and breadth of American running.
A large contingent of locals are racing, headlined by 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson, and former CU national champ Dani Jones. Some new names will be in there as well, such as Team Boulder’s Carrie Verdon and Maddie Alm of Team Boss (both former Buffs) in the 5000 meters; marathoner Nell Rojas in the 10,000 meters; Frank Lara of the Roots Running Project and former CU star Joe Klecker could be up front in the 10,000 meters; while Val Constien and Maddie Boreman will be racing in the Olympic Trials steeplechase.
Boreman, the 2017 Pac-12 steeplechase champ and NCAA runner-up, will be doubling, racing both the NCAAs and Olympic Trials steeple, as will CU’s Sage Hurta in the 1500 meters.
“It is a difficult five or six weeks” for Boreman and Hurta, explained CU head coach Mark Wetmore, with the conference, regional and NCAA meets preceding the Olympic Trials. “Compare that to a pure pro, say like Jenny (Simpson), who is not required to do the first three. And a good collegian probably has multiple races at each.”
June is also the month in which the annual Boulder Road Runners Summer Track Series resumes at the University of Colorado’s Frank Potts outdoor track. Under the able directorship of Todd Straka, along with John Bridges and his bevy of volunteers (some of whom help officiate at CU’s meets), the series is shaping up to once again be a fun, fast way to build community and friendship while testing yourself at distances from 100 meters through 5000 meters, as well in the jumps and throws.
The meets are your only chance to run in the footsteps of CU stars such as Klecker, Coburn, Simpson and Hurta, and it is always enjoyable to see little kids running their first races ever, cheered on by family and friends. The Summer All Comers Series kicks off Thursday (boulderroadrunners.org), and pre-registration is required. There is no meet-day signup. The All Comers meets continue June 17, followed by two meets on alternating Thursday evenings in July and August. (To volunteer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
A highlight of the June 17 BRR track meet will be a masters mile set up to give local masters ace Dan King — holder of three American track records — a chance to turn in the first sub-5 minute mile by an over-60 runner in Colorado. King, a CU alum, last year also ran a track mile of 4:49.08 for the mile, which is the unratified M60 world record. His three American M60 records are 4:52.7 for the mile, 9:58.7 for 3000 meters, and 16:48.7 for the 5000 meters.
“The BRR Summer Track Series is a great community asset,” King said during a phone conversation last week. “Todd (Straka) and the BRR crew do a fantastic job with the series. It was his work in promoting the mile over the past few years that swayed me to broaden my thinking and got me excited about the mile. It is a totally fun event now, a different kind of race. Just go out and hammer and run hard.”
With the Olympic Trials looming, look for some of the elite qualifiers to be showing up at the All Comers meets Thursday and June 17 to get in a last hard effort before heading to Eugene for the Trials, which double as the U.S. national championships in Olympic years.
The Close to Home Run
One of the oldest local road races is the Eldorado Run for the Cure. This year it is a virtual race, called The Close to Home Run by Eldorado Springs Water, “starting and stopping wherever you happen to be.” As in past years, the race is a fundraiser for research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Registration is open; the virtual run begins Thursday and goes through June 30.
Follow Michael Sandrock in Instagram: @MikeSandrock