Hayward Masters Classic falling short of veteran’s expectations

Dave Ortman, my M60 multi-event buddy in Seattle, is a connoisseur of fine meets. So when he has something to say, meet organizers should lissen up. He sent me a critique of the Hayward Masters Classic — set for next weekend. Any event at the University of Oregon creates expectations. We’re talking TrackTown USA, after all. But Dave is disappointed in the Hayward masters meet. “I have many fond memories of the Hayward Classic,” he writes. “More recently?  Not so much.” At least a half-dozen world records have been set at this meet. So every effort should be made to keep it strong.

Running at the site of many Olympic Trials is a charm of the Hayward Masters Classic.

Running at the site of many Trials is a charm of the Hayward Masters Classic.

Here’s what Dave shared:

First, hats off to anyone who puts on a masters track meet, and double hats off to all the track and field volunteer officials.  But Eugene can no longer call itself TrackTown USA, at least for masters.
The Hayward Classic will be held Sunday, June 29, 2014, at the University of Oregon (Eugene).  It was once the premier masters meet in the Pacific Northwest, if not the western United States. 

The UofO venue (home to the Prefontaine Classic and past host to the U.S. Olympic Trials) is dedicated to track and field (not a football field).  There is a giant scoreboard capable of telling athletes and spectators actual event heat and final results as they happened.  But it is losing its attraction and allure for masters.
In 2011, it went from a two-day meet to a one day meet.  For those with a habit of keeping to one or two events likely not much of difference.  For those who participate in multiple track and field events, it becomes hard to justify a five to six hour drive.
In 2014, the Hayward Classic failed to publish an entry form with a schedule.  Entrees were due June 18, but no schedule would be available until June 22.  In other words, they expect payment of entry fees without have any posted schedule. 

In addition, despite a specific request, meet officials refused to disclose the time the meet would actually start.  Then there is the hurdle problem.  The Hayward Classic record for the M60 300m Hurdles is 46.49. 

I had a faster M60 time last year.  But there is no way to challenge that record in 2014, because the Hayward Classic is not going to run any long hurdles (or steeplechase or weight throw).  I suppose that is one way to ensure that records will never be broken.
And not a good business decision for Nike to support USATF, but ignore masters down the road from its Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters.  
Yes, officials and volunteers need to be taken into consideration (and thanked), but keeping athletes in the dark and refusing to provide the starting time, or a schedule of events (similar to the National Outdoor and Indoor Championship meets, which also refuse to provide a schedule of events prior to entry deadline) is not athlete friendly.
I have many fond memories of the Hayward Classic.  More recently?  Not so much.

Agree? Disagree? What are your hopes for Hayward?

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June 21, 2014

12 Responses

  1. steven bowles - June 21, 2014

    I totally agree with Dave Ortman’s evaluation of the Classic . I entered the meet months ago . Reservations made for air/auto/hotel . Asked for schedule , no response . Asked again no response . I wrote off Allegiant ticket and cancelled auto/hotel . I will not waste $ ,time ,energy, patience next year .

  2. Mary Harada - June 22, 2014

    I ran the mile at the Hayward Classic twice. From the east coast it is quite a trip but it was worth it for a 2 day masters meet in Eugene. The mile one day and the 3k the next day. The second time I ran the mile there – I set a WR for Women 75-79. I loved the meet – have great memories – naturally – since I managed to set a WR in Eugene – does not get much better than that. My brother flew in from Iowa to watch me run which made it very special for me. He still talks about how exciting it was for him to not only get to watch me set a record but to do it in Eugene.
    Would I go to Eugene for a one day masters meet? No – too far, too expensive, and too short a meet. Since the meet was shortened to one day it has seemed clear to me that it would not survive for long. It is too bad as the Hayward Classic was a wonderful meet in a fabulous running town on a world class track. That was an unbeatable combination. And clearly it was too good to last forever.

  3. joe johnston - June 22, 2014

    Not good to hear about the decline of this premier Masters meet, Dave.
    Wonder if scheduling this meet sometime during August/early Sept when weather is really good, officials have had a break, not as much T&F activity going on . . . could help keep it attractive to more participants?

  4. Ron Pate - June 22, 2014

    No Steeplechase? One day meet, rather than two? In the past, I ran (and was 1st in my Div. with a #1 National ranking) the Steeple chase, the 3000 meters, the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters……but not on the same day.

    I came to the Hayward Classic from Hawaii, 12 years in a row, until one year it was held somewhere other than U of O and another year it was held in May.

    I too have fond memories of running in the Hayward Classic, but I always saw the published schedule.

    Meet Directors should understand how important it is to publish the time schedule prior to the entry dead line.

    It looks like someone does not care if the best athletes in the nation come to the Hayward Classic or not.

    A one day meet can not have all the events held in the National or WMA championships and would not be worth the expense to travel far (I live in Hawaii).

    I hope this is a wake-up call for the Oregon Track Club Masters.

  5. Suzy Wojcik - June 22, 2014

    I agree with all the complaints above from the out of towners. I live in Eugene but will not participate in the meet this year. They dropped my favorite event. My other event was secondary. The organizers have turned this meet into a disappointing event. First by dropping one of the competition days and now dumping some of the events. Maybe they are too tired with the NCAA’s here and the Junior meets. Maybe they just don’t think masters are important anymore. I beg to disagree. Track and field is important for all ages and if they don’t understand that, I will back away except to continue to officiate in the hammer crew for the college meets. The masters group was gobbled up by the Oregon Track Club and is now identified as one group only. There is no longer an Oregon Track Club Masters. Just Oregon Track Club. Like I said. Disappointing.

  6. George Mathews - June 23, 2014

    As a meet director of the Seattle Classic I understand the difficulty in staffing our Masters meets with officials, volunteers and pressures for facility availability this late in the season. We have felt them as well in Seattle. We had to go to a one day meet because our officials felt they were not being utilized enough in a two day meet.
    We did a survey of our athletes and found that 50% wanted a one day meet and 50% wanted a two meet. We think we came up with a one day schedule which makes most people happy. http://www.pntf.org/masters. We even added a throws pentathlon to the schedule. taking out events is not a great idea. When Hayward took out the super weight the meet became marginal for me. Taking out the weight throw made it impossible for me. I will drive the same 5 hour drive this coming weekend going north to the BC Masters Championships in Kelowna, BC instead of south to Eugene. I used to love the meet.

  7. David E. Ortman (M61), Seattle, WA - June 23, 2014

    Again, it is not my intent to berate meet directors or T&F volunteers. Even running a one day meet is a challenge and takes a commitment of a large number of people, so again, thank you to meet directors and volunteer officials.

    My concern is when athletes are required to pay for entry fees without a meet schedule. And George Mathews (#5) shows it can be done. See the actual meet schedule for the upcoming Seattle Masters Classic, USATF NW Regional Masters T&F, Pacific NW Association Open/Masters T&F and Throws Pentathlon Championships on JULY 19, 2014. http://www.pntf.org/masters/

    (Separate issue about the trend to combining up to three separate meets into one.)

    And the no schedule problem extends to our national masters championship meets. By now there should be standard meet schedules for the outdoor and indoor national championship meets.

    The most recent example is the National Masters Outdoor Championships in Winston-Salem, NC. The entry deadline closed June 19, but there is still no meet schedule posted (and by meet schedule I don’t mean a list of which events are on which days, I mean a meet schedule that lists the event times so that an athlete can determine how much recovery time is available between events and whether there are time conflicts between events on the track and events on the field).

    The refusal of our national meets to provide a meet schedule prior to the entry deadline is inexcusable. No high school or college coach is asked to enter athletes in a state or conference meet without knowing the meet schedule. Masters athletes deserve at least the same consideration.

  8. Fidel Banuelos - June 24, 2014

    Same complaint here…I emailed asking about the event time schedule weeks ago and no response. It may not matter for a 100/200 runner but it matters for the mid to long distances and multi-eventers. Also, I think a $30 late entry fee is too much. The schedule was finally posted but one would have to pay the late entry fee which I didn’t think was right. In comparison, the Portland Masters Track Club meet only charges a $10 late fee and lets athletes register day of race…same with Seattle Masters meet. Not so with Hayward.

  9. Jerry Bookin-Weiner - June 27, 2014

    Though I have nothing to do with putting the schedule together for the indoor or outdoor nationals (that is done by the Games Committee, not the Local Organizing Committee), as a former meet director for the indoor nationals I know that without waiting to see how many athletes there are in each age group in each event, putting a reasonable schedule together would be impossible.

    This is equally true for running and field events, but I will cite examples below for field events only. In the throws or horizontal jumps it makes a huge difference if there are 5 athletes in an age group or 15, not to mention 20.

    In the first case (5 athletes) each competitor gets six attempts (30 total) meaning you can finish a flight in about 45 minutes, maybe a little bit more. Allowing time for the next group to warm up, you then know you can schedule the next age group in the circle or pit 60-75 minutes after the previous group, depending on how aggressive a schedule you want to put together.

    In the second case (15 athletes) each competitor gets three attempts and the top eight get another three, for a total of 69 attempts, meaning the flight would take an hour and a half to two hours. Therefore the next group probably should be scheduled two hours to two and a half hours after the previous group.

    In the third case you would need two flights of prelims with each competitor having three attempts. You would have to factor in a 15 minute warm up period between flights and then the top 8 would get another three attempts in the finals. That would be grand total of 84 attempts taking two hours, plus the warm up time between flights and before the finals. Therefore the next group probably would need to be scheduled at least two and a half hours after this one.

    Without knowing how many athletes will sign up in each age group for an event, how is the person putting the schedule together supposed to do it and have a smoothly run meet without either long periods of dead time because there are fewer competitors in an age group/event than were forecast three-six months earlier. Or, if they schedule it too tightly everything would run late, sometimes terribly late.

    Yes, it is difficult for athletes to plan, but there is no real alternative that I can see.

    Dave Ortman makes the point (see #7 above) that no high school or college coach would enter athletes in state or conference meet without knowing the schedule. That is true. However, there is no state or conference meet that I know of with an indeterminate number of entries in each event. State high school meets are usually the result of some kind of qualifying process that produces a defined number of entries in each event. Conference meets similarly have qualifying standards and, in many cases, a defined maximum number of entries. The NCAA is the same. If we had a similar system for the masters nationals we could do that. We do not.

    It’s not a question of masters athletes not getting consideration. It is the system of open entries that we have adopted that creates the scheduling system we have. You can’t have it both ways.

  10. David E. Ortman (M61), Seattle, WA - June 27, 2014

    Jerry Bookin-Weiner (#9) makes several valid points regarding meet schedules. In fact, I will concede that the High Jump and Pole Vault are peculiarly hard to time schedule because you don’t know the athletes (sometimes extremely low) starting heights or how high they will jump/vault. One option is to set starting heights for the High Jump and Pole Vault at the All-American standards.

    As for the other jumps, throws, and track heats, I would suggest that the 2014 indoor and outdoor (when final)schedule be used as a valid standard starting point for 2015. Most of us are aware that events can run late (and occasionally early). What I want to know on the entry form is the order of events on each day and which events are likely to occur in the AM and PM sessions. Without that information, it is all guesswork.

  11. George Patterson - June 30, 2014

    This was my second year to attend and will be my last. I am dismayed at the fact that events are being eliminated. But even more, that the events were set up so close together that it was almost impossible to complete one before the next one started. There should be a 1/2 hour space after one even is completed until the next starts. I didn’t have time to go to the restroom or to properly prepare for the next event. In fact, I didn’t get my “free” lunch until after the meet was over and by then the meet was cold, the lettuce wilted, and the buns dried out. It did not leave for a pleasant experience. And, the $30 late fee was outrageous. I have better ways to spend my weekend. Thanks…but no thanks!

  12. Rebecca R. Mitchell - March 20, 2015

    I would agree that making the Hayward Classic into just a one day meet has made it very challenging for me as a sprinter. I have to run all sprint races in one day. When it was a two day meet, I could come back and run the 200 meter race the next day. I feel short ended. I feel that masters are not deserving the kind of respect that they should.

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