The University of Oregon's Hayward Field has been called the fastest track in the world, and likened to Carnegie Hall and Wrigley Field. Each turn holds history.
The classic racing destination underwent renovations after the 2018 season and re-opened in 2020, after first serving the track and field community in 1921. With such history, it's always the perfect time to run back and take a look at the greatest moments in Hayward Field history, including a few American records and a Hollywood cameo.
Unsurprisingly, Hayward's been home to more than a few thrillingly entertaining races over the years. Here are some of the all-time greats:
Suzy Favor Hamilton vs. Gabriela Szabo, 2000
In the first Pre Classic of the new millenium, Suzy Favor Hamilton and Gabriela Szabo duked it out in the 1500 as two of the fastest women in the world. Favor Hamilton built up a sizable lead entering the final 200 meters, but Szabo made up space over the final handful of seconds and won essentially by a hair.
Steve Prefontaine, 1972
Prefontaine, the namesake for Hayward's annual Pre Classic, donned the yellow-and-green singlet in Eugene to try and qualify for Munich's Olympic games in 1972. Instead he wound up setting the American record for the 5K in a race that would provide some of Pre's most enduring images.
Alan Webb, 2001
A prodigy of the times, Webb didn't need to win this 2001 race to make Hayward history. Webb ran a perfect, calculated race and broke Jim Ryun's 36-year-old U.S. prep record in the mile, finishing at 3:53.43, then the fastest mile run by a high schooler on U.S. soil. Hicham El Guerrouj won the race in 3:49.92, which was the fastest mile ever run on U.S. soil. Webb's record stood for 17 years, until it was broken by Jacob Ingebrigtsten — at Hayward.
Galen Rupp, 2014
Rupp ran the final 800 meters of this 10K in a staggering sub-1:58 to break his previous American record in the event, finishing in 26:44.36, a record which still stands today.
Southern California's comeback, 2018
The 2018 NCAA outdoor track and field championships would be one of the last times Hayward Field would see competition before undergoing renovations. And what a send-off it was from Southern Califonia's women's 4x400 team. In a comeback for the ages, the Women of Troy etched their names in history to win the 2018 title.
Southern California's comeback, 2018
In the first NCAA outdoor track and field championships to be held at Hayward Field since its renovation, the women's 4x400 meter relay once again stole the show. Texas A&M set the meet, collegiate and facility record in the relay, finishing with a time of 3:22.34, anchored by Athing Mu who ran a record split of 48.85.
Hayward is so famous, it's reached beyond real life and into the pantheon of fictional racing.
Animal House (1978)
As the New York Times' Mary Pilon noted in 2012, "In 1978’s film 'National Lampoon’s Animal House,' [...] A more modest version of the stadium can be seen in the background of the R.O.T.C. scene of the film, one of many venues in Eugene where the film was shot."
Hayward Field has hosted the US Olympic Trials seven times in its storied history, most recently in 2021. Here's a look at some highlights from all seven trials.
This was the first trials with no preliminary events; athletes merely had to meet the qualification standard in their event. This was also the last time the Women's Olympic Trials were held separately from the Men's Olympic Trials.
Among other notable things, Houston McTear (which is a great name) qualified for Montreal in the 100M as a high school athlete.
At this point in the year, President Jimmy Carter had already announced the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott.
Pole vault legend Jennifer Stuczynski set the national record (4.92M) and qualified for her first Olympics.
Ashton Eaton set the world record in the decathlon with a score of 9,039, becoming just the second athlete ever to break the 9,000-point mark.
In the sixth edition of the US Olympic Trials at Hayward Field, seven men and four women qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Most notably, Oregon Duck Devon Allen, the 2016 NCAA Outdoor 110m hurdles champion, qualified in the 110m hurdles on his home track.
After a global pandemic moved the 2020 Olympic trials back a year, Hayward Field was chosen as the trial's host in 2021. The trials marked the first major non-NCAA event since Hayward Field underwent renovations.