The Fast Track
In a glorious evening of sport, the adidas Boston Indoor Games give US track-and-field fans a rare, up-close glimpse of the world's top athletes burning up the nation's fastest track.
Posted Monday, 6 January, 2003
It's all too rare in the United States to see world-class track-and-field athletes enjoying the celebrity focus and arena venues more commonly reserved for other major sports. But for one glorious evening every winter, the adidas Boston Indoor Games provide an exceptional showcase for the world's top athletes, giving fans a high-octane mix of speed, competition and showmanship.
Now gearing up for its eighth year at Boston's Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, the adidas Boston Indoor Games routinely attract dozens of Olympic and World Championship medalists and record holders. An annual highlight of the indoor track season, the meet has been the venue for two world records, six American records and six other national marks.
"I believe that this is the fastest track in the world," said meet director Mark Wetmore of the banked Mondo Super-X track at the Reggie Lewis Center. "There's something magical about this track, and the athletes know it, there's a psychology at work here. They know that this is the place to come and run fast."
"There's something magical about this track."
- Mark Wetmore, meet director
Make that really, really fast. Last year's Boston Indoor Games were particularly remarkable, with no less than four shattered records. Regina Jacobs set a world record in the women's 2 mile; Tim Broe and David Krummenacker set American records in the men's 3000 meters and 1000 meters, respectively; and Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia broke an American all-comers record in the women's 800m.
Organizers expect more records to fall at the 2003 meet on Saturday, February 1. The roster of athletes is still firming up but already includes Krummenacker and Broe. In the men's 60m, meet organizers weren't ready to name names (they're announcing the athletes later this month) but hinted that the field would include "the best sprint field ever assembled."
Start of the indoor track season
This year, the 16-event meet kicks off the USATF Golden Spike Tour indoor track series, which provides the nation's top athletes with the opportunity to compete in the United States for substantial prize money in front of a nationally televised audience. The Boston Indoor Games will be broadcast live on ESPN 2.
"As an Olympian it feels really good to be able to compete in a high-caliber event at home in the US instead of having to go to Europe for all the competitions," said Melissa Morrison, the hurdler who won Olympic bronze in Sydney and who has six consecutive wins in the women's 60m hurdles at the Boston Indoor Games. "It's a really good thing to be able to do for the fans, too, to give them the chance to see this caliber of competition."
The Golden Spike Tour will return again to Boston's Reggie Lewis Center for the 2003 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 1 and 2.
Fast times, great venue
With Boston bookending the American indoor track season, New England track fans have a double-whammy opportunity to see the world's top athletes up-close and personal.
"There's no better way to get a sense of the speed, grace and beauty of Olympic-level athletes," said Rich Kenah, director of marketing for meet promoter Global Athletics & Marketing. "We have great matchups at a great venue. It's a real treat for New Englanders to have the world's best athletes stop in at the Reggie Lewis Track Center for a full, 2-1/2 to 3-hour event."
It's a treat for competitors, too, athletes say. "This is actually my favorite place to compete," said Morrison. "There's a special atmosphere at the Reggie Lewis Center, and I really like the fans there. In most stadiums, the fans aren't as close to the track, and you can't hear anybody. In Boston, you can hear them when they yell your name, when you're coming down toward the finish. It's a friendly feeling to compete there, and I think I run better because of it."
"I love the Boston fans," Jacobs said after her world-record performance last year. "I wish we could take them everywhere with us."
"We have a very knowledgeable fan base here in New England," said Wetmore. "It's not people with their shirts off and their names painted on their chests, it's people who have grown up with the sport and who love it. These are fans who have come down to see some of the best athletes in the world."
For veteran fans and first-time spectators alike, the meet stirs a kind of electric enthusiasm, fueled not only by the routinely amazing performances of the athletes but the show put on by the meet organizers. The music, the lights, and the energy of the meet provide the ideal backdrop to the high-test competition on the track.
At just $15-$25 per ticket, organizers say they expect to sell out the 3500-seat arena, attracting more than a few first-timers, including perhaps a few new young fans. "I'd love for a mom or dad who runs a road race every weekend to bring their kid and get an autograph from a world-record holder," said Kenah.
adidas Boston Indoor Games website
February 1, 2003
Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center
Roxbury Community College
$15 - $25
Visit the official website, or call 617-536-7030.