Auburn Track Meets
Every summer, starting in 2000, Placer High School and the Auburn Gold Country Rotary Club have sponsored the Auburn All-Comers Track Series.
Each year, there have been three track meets open to anyone, with a very low entry fee of $2, which allows competitors to participate in as many events as they would like.
This year, as usual, the meets will still be on Wednesdays (specifically July 7, July 21 and August 4).
The first event is the 1,600 meter race walk, which starts at 5:45 p.m., with the last event being the 3,200 meters, which tends to start in the 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. range, depending on how many are competing in the sprint races (and how many heats there are).
A full tentative schedule, as well as directions to the track at Placer High School and results from past years (although some times are incorrect) can be found online at http://www.theaudiorecorder.com/auburnallcomers/.
These track meets have turned into fun family events, with many young children running races from 50 meters on up.
There are also field events, with the high jump, long jump and shot put.
It is quite common to see the names of local competitors in the top three in their heats or age groups, and in numerous events.
The Welz family does quite well, with Zachary, Rachel and Savannah usually taking home ribbons in multiple events.
Other local athletes who have made the trip to Auburn for some of the meets include Matt and Dan Frietas, Matt Tyrrell, Philippe Mickelson and Al Shook.
Placing in the age group top three can be daunting for some of us “older” runners, as there are a number of age groups for kids depending on the event, but then goes to “over 20” for adults, leaving 60 year olds in the same age group as college seniors.
For adults, this is an opportunity to see how fast they can run for an exact distance in race conditions (although low key). Unlike many road races, which are often approximate distances, the track offers the opportunity to know for sure how fast you can go for your distance, be it 200, 400, 800, or 1,600 meters. And the track has no hills!
When I ran the first of these meets back in 2000, I hadn’t run a track race since my college days, over 20 years at that time. There just aren’t many chances for out of school runners to test themselves on the track, and these meets are a welcome opportunity.
Keep in mind that there are usually only enough volunteer timers to get the top three finishers, so use your own watch to make sure you get your time.
But the key to these events is the joy and fun experienced by the kids.
Two summers ago, my son, Skyler, 5 years old at the time, went down with me to one of the meets intending to run the 50 meter dash, which he’d done before.
The race officials line up one child per lane, eight per heat, based on height. There have even been kids still in diapers, that run with their parent.
Every child gets a participant ribbon, with the top three in each heat getting a first, second or third place ribbon.
Skyler used his “rocket power” to take third place in his 50 meter heat and was so excited about it that he surprised me by exclaiming “I want to run another race!”
So, when the time came, he ran his heat of the 100 meter dash and, not slowing down from his 50 meter race pace, finished second. He wanted to run yet another race, telling me, “I love racing!”
Then came his 200 meter heat, and he placed third, telling me afterwards “I love running! It’s my favorite sport.” I was so proud of him and excited for him.
As I was warming up for the 3,200 (which doesn’t take much in Auburn in the summer, I might add), Skyler even ran with me, saying “Let’s run some more, Dad!”
After having run hundreds of races over the years, winning some and being on two world record 24-hour relay teams, I can tell you that his excitement, joy and spirit that day at the Placer track meet ranks as one of my all-time, most-satisfying experiences with running.
So grab your kids and head to Auburn for a track meet (leaving enough time for potential rush hour traffic). I recommend bringing drinks, as one meet the water fountains were broken for some reason. Better safe than sorry as it does get hot.
You might just find yourself, like I did, enjoying an incredible bonding experience with your child, with fond memories that will last forever.
Any questions not answered on the Website mentioned earlier can be addressed to Dean Wood at email@example.com or by phone at 530-885-7955.
Steve Bond, who lives in Grass Valley, is a competitive runner and a regular contributor to The Union, writing feature stories and columns about running. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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