Spectator Report: USATF High Performance Distance Classic (#OxyHP)

When I heard Twitter chatter between Oiselle Team Manager Kristin Metcalf and a few other runners about heading to Occidental College to spectate at a track meet, I just had to butt in to the conversation and invite myself to the party. After all, the event (the USATF High Performance Distance Classic– or, #OxyHP) was only three-ish miles from my apartment and seemed like a great opportunity to meet cool people I kinda-sorta-basically “knew” from Twitter, give my industrial strength cowbell a workout, and watch elite runners do their thang.

Arriving at Occidental College’s Jack Kemp Stadium on race day, I bought my ticket and happened to bump into Oiselle Team runner Anne Riggin. She introduced herself, presumably because she knew right away I was headed to join the Oiselle crew by the looks of my sweet threads. (For the curious reader, my OOTD included the Lesko Bra, Scantron Tank, Distance Shorts, Feather Spike Bag, & an Oiselle temporary tattoo because why not go all-out O in a situation like this.)

My track meet essentials: cowbell, cookies, Picky Bars, Flyer Club Fan Card.

My track meet essentials: cowbell, cookies, Picky Bars, & Fleshman Flyer Club Fan Card.

Anne and I joined Kristin and Sarah Boone (OUAL), both of whom I’d talked to– virtually, at least– for a while, and settled in for an evening of fangirling.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about track. I ran the 200m and 400m (and did some long-jumping for good measure) in 8th grade, but my knowledge now-a-days is rudimentary at best. Not wanting to embarrass myself at the meet, I studied up on Oiselle’s very own FanGirl Series and Googled “steeplechase.” I still have a ways to go, but when it gets down to it, a fangirl is a fangirl is a fangirl… right?!

On the track meet docket– from 800m to 5k– were six elite members of Oiselle Team (Haute Volée, as they’re known en français): Kate Grace, Lauren Wallace, Amanda Mergaert, Amanda Winslow, Lauren Penney, Laura Carlyle, and Lauren Fleshman. Holy feminine-fierce! And that was just a handful of the athletes set to duke it out on the track on a hot-hot-hot day in L.A.

track meet

These ladies were flyin’ so fast, my poor iPhone 4s could not keep up.

Around and around that oval they went. The birds of Oiselle Team seemed to fly by. These may have been distance events as far as track is concerned, but the longest race was over in just 15 minutes and change. One of my favorite moments? Oh, just that time Kate Grace seemingly effortlessly pulled in front of the lead pack of her 800m heat to finish first. As Sarah noted, it was almost as if Kate was thinking during that last 100m, “Don’t worry, guys, I got this.”

Let’s take a moment now to appreciate the fact that after the race Kate did a full-on workout:

Kate Grace

A blurry Fast K8 doing strides.

And also, while we’re at it, all the sinewy men in short shorts:



Overall, the decibel level of the crowd may have been underwhelming and the commentary shmeh. (Perhaps we should have streamed Flotrack‘s commentary?) But the company was great and it was impossible to not get caught up in the excitement of runners putting it all on the line(s of the track) in each event, as we reminded ourselves just how darn fast they were racing.

From their solitary warm-ups to faces of utter fierceness just before the finish line, these hard working and genetically blessed professional athletes were a sight to be seen…

…sometimes up close and personal, LIKE THAT TIME I MET LAUREN FLESHMAN.

Meeting Lauren Fleshman


Yes, she is as awesome in person as she exudes on the internets. And although she was bummed at having to pull out of her event due to Achilles tightness (robbing us of the opportunity to see her famous abs IRL), she was super-freakin’-cool. Genuinely happy to meet fans. Strong woman. Smart athlete. A fan of PB&J. Track Attack Pants Model. I hope to have the opportunity to spend time with her again!

From front to back (and side to side), it was such a great night of spectating. As the evening came to a close, it was comforting to know that even pro runners with insane abs ate the cookies I brought in what is now my proudest snack mom moment to date. I left the event filled to the brim with a renewed love for the sport and determination to continue fighting to fully recover from injury and get back to racing. A big “thank you” to  Kristin for letting me jump on the track meet party train! (Check out the full meet results here.)

 What are your favorite track meet memories?

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2 thoughts on “Spectator Report: USATF High Performance Distance Classic (#OxyHP)

  1. anneriggin says:

    Loved meeting you and reading your recap of the OXY meet. That was my first official fangirling event!

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