PORTLAND, Ore. — Some of the fastest track and field athletes in the U.S. are competing this weekend at Lewis and Clark College in Southwest Portland. The Portland Track Festival runs June 11-12.
The festival is in its fourteenth year. The two-day event focuses on middle and long distances, from 800-meters up to 10,000-meters. It serves as a tune-up for athletes trying to make their way to nationals and the world championships, which will be held in Eugene next month.
There is prize money and qualifying times on the line in the high-caliber meet. Yet the cozy feel at Griswold Stadium gives track and field fans something they won’t get at big meets: access.
“You can mingle with the athletes. They'll sign autographs. They love coming to Portland," said Jeff Merill of the Portland Track Festival. "We call Lewis and Clark the 'electric forest' because it's surrounded by beautiful trees and it blocks the wind, so you always see fast times and really good performances in there. The racing is always fantastic."
The races are stacked with elite competition. Raven Rogers, a former University of Oregon star and U.S. Olympic medalist, headlines the woman’s 800-meter competition.
Josh Kerr of Great Britain was also a bronze medalist from the Tokyo Olympics. He will race in a deep field of fast athletes in 1500-meters.
Tickets for the festival cost $15, but admission is free for kids 12 years old and younger. Races start at 6 p.m. on Friday and resume Saturday afternoon.
Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at email@example.com or reach out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.