Opinion: Some struggles fade, others remain in trackMost years by the end of April, I’d have seen at least a half-dozen track meets, maybe more. Know how many I’ve seen this spring? None. If I’d known April was going to be mostly winter, I’d have tried harder to make the Winner meet, the first of the season for Chamberlain’s Cubs and several other area schools. We went to Winner to start our season when I was in track in the 1960s. It was early and chilly, but it was always a fun meet.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Most years by the end of April, I’d have seen at least a half-dozen track meets, maybe more.
Know how many I’ve seen this spring? None. If I’d known April was going to be mostly winter, I’d have tried harder to make the Winner meet, the first of the season for Chamberlain’s Cubs and several other area schools. We went to Winner to start our season when I was in track in the 1960s. It was early and chilly, but it was always a fun meet.
I had a conflict the day of the Winner meet this year. No big deal. Plenty of other meets. Well, May is a day away, and the meets are dwindling down, like the old song about leaves says, “to a precious few, the regions, the state meet.” State meet? How does anyone know if they’re ready for state?
I remember being in high school and interested in the 440-yard dash. I’d read the sports pages looking for any meets that had times for the quarter-mile, anywhere in the country. By late January some years, kids in high schools in Southern California were running 47-second quarters. My CHS teammates and I were in the midst of basketball and at least two months from running outside.
I still search the agate in the sports pages for track and field times and distances. Agate is what we used to call that tiny type used to print long columns of track results or bowling scores or softball league outcomes. This spring, there hasn’t been enough agate to make it worth opening the sports pages.
Without much track to think about, I’ve been thinking about track shoes.
It’s an old story, but when I ran for Chamberlain, none of us had our own track shoes. We used spikes that I suppose the school bought from the lowest bidder somewhere. I’m not complaining. We each got our own jerseys and running shorts, and we each got a gray sweatshirt and matching, baggy gray sweatpants.
(Some of the guys got red rain-repellent parkas with CHAMBERLAIN printed across the back in white letters. The parkas were really supposed to be used by the football team, but some of the more aggressive members of the track team — and by more aggressive I mean weight throwers — went ahead and grabbed them anyway. Those things sure looked comfy to me as I shivered in my soggy, gray sweats with pellets of sleet hammering the Pierre cinders during my first Legion Relays.)
But a trackster doesn’t need a parka, or sweats. A trackster needs a team jersey and running shorts and a good pair of spikes. We had spikes, as I said, but not enough to go around. During meets, we shared. What that meant was, during the event before the 440-yard dash, I’d run around the infield looking for a Chamberlain runner who wasn’t in a race for a couple of events and who had something close to a 10D foot. As soon as I finished the quarter-mile, as I staggered around trying to catch my breath, another Chamberlain guy would be tearing at my shoes, trying to get them off my feet and onto his before his next race.
Between events, I wore my basketball shoes. I wore them to warm up at meets, and I wore them for cross-country practice, as well as basketball — practice and games. They were Converse, low-cut, thin-soled and retro before retro existed. If they had any arch support, I never knew it. Then again, I never had foot trouble in high school. Chuck Taylor must have known something about shoes.
When I go to meets these days — and there’s still a chance I’ll get to a meet this spring — it looks as if every kid has a pair of spikes to wear the entire day. There’s still some staggering around after races, but it isn’t because a teammate is pulling the shoes out from under an exhausted runner.
I wonder what it would have been like to have competed in an entire track meet and never once worried where my next pair of spikes was coming from.