The ultimate indoor track challenge
CAIT FOWKES, COPY EDITOR
To many athletes, running is associated with punishment-maybe
for being too slow at practice or not having the endurance to perform
well throughout the game. So maybe it's a fair statement to say that track
athletes must be super tough because their whole sport is considered punishment.
However, despite the talent and discipline runners demonstrate-from
the explosive speed of the 55m dash to the grueling stamina it takes to
finish the 300m run-there is a whole other world that exists during the
Indoor Track season: the field events.
Believe it or not, there is much more to the field events
than meets the eye. Sure, long jump seems pretty easy, and it even looks
like fun to land in a pit of sand. However, it takes a tremendous amount
of speed to carry the jumper down the runway, explosive legs to propel
her up and forward through the air as well as coordination between the
arms and legs to maximize the distance of the jump before the landing.
The hurdles are not the easiest event, either. Think
about how hard it must be to sprint as fast as you can with obstacles
in your way! There is a certain rhythm to the hurdles that enables the
ideal number of strides to be taken between each hurdle, as well as ensure
that the appropriate leg will be forward to get over them. There is a
definite technique necessary in hurdling that cuts down the time it takes
to get over the hurdle and ensure that no mishaps with the hurdles take
place. Hurdlers are known for their creative injuries and perilous adventures
with the hurdles.
Or what about the high jump? How easy can it really
be for women to powerfully drive their bodies five feet or higher into
the air off one foot, arch gracefully over a bar and land into a pit below
them? There is a great deal of precision with respect to the number of
springing strides taken to approach the bar at a specific speed in order
to ensure the optimal position for the penultimate step and final plant
to take off.
Throwing seems like one of those events that just about
anybody could do. The shot put looks like an oversized softball, but the
eight-pound, thirteen-ounce implement would cause serious shoulder and
elbow injuries if you attempted to throw it like a softball. Throwing
entails much more than upper body strength. A good thrower derives much
of her power from strong legs swiftly gliding backwards across the throwing
circle, coordinated with a powerful torso and strong upper body to project
the implement forward. All of this force is thrown into one swiftly coordinated
movement, transferring all of your weight forward without losing footing
and risking a foul by losing balance and stepping out of the circle.
Many people specialize in certain inter-related field
events. For instance, a shot putter may also throw the twenty-pound weight
during the season, while a long jumper might compete in the triple jump
Runners often double up on events in meets, perhaps
running the 55m dash as well as the 4x200m relay. Generally speaking,
individuals who specialize in the throws do not make the best distance
runners while a high jumper may not make the best thrower. This idea is
what makes the pentathlon such an amazing event.
The pentathlon is an event where individuals must perform
the 55m high hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and 800m run. This
is a true test of speed, agility, explosiveness, and endurance. Competing
in five different events is both mentally taxing and physically draining.
It is often difficult to regroup after a poor performance when you know
that there are four events left to complete. Even after a solid performance
it can be difficult to psych yourself up for each additional event.
It takes a truly unique individual to want to compete
under these circumstances, and train for such a variety of events. Only
well conditioned athletes with versatile ability can fearlessly run the
hurdles, gracefully and flexibly high jump, powerfully throw the shot
put, explosively long jump, and have enough energy to race a tough 800m.
If anyone is interested in seeing this event, you can
catch Julia Febiger '03 and Caitlin Fowkes '03 at Bates today, December
8 at 3:00 p.m.., representing the Bowdoin Women's Track Team at the ultimate
indoor track challenge.