Did you run in high school? What kind of track did you run on? Was it one of these nice, new tracks with a responsive surface, or did you run on a track like I did back in the mid-90’s, one so hard we referred to it as “the parking lot?” Or maybe you remember the crushed cinder tracks, or did your repeats on a gravel or grass track! Either way, I’m sure you know by now how much better it is to run on a track with an engineered surface – it’s like night and day.
The runners at Ashland High School don’t have any track right now. The track at AHS has been permanently closed due to it’s crumbling condition, and the school district will not have the funds to replace the track until their next successful bond measure comes in – which will be at least three years from now. For the high school athletes at Ashland High, and the community that uses the track for general fitness, this is a big problem.
Thus far, the local running and walking community in Ashland has raised around $330,000 towards a new track. But they need to raise about $170,000 more by September 5. Here’s how you can help: Thanks to connections with the Nike Oregon Project, the group is holding an auction featuring items from Nike Oregon Project runners including Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Matthew Centrowitz, and Shannon Rowbury, Jordan Hasay, Eric Jenkins, and Suguru Osako. Ashland HS’s long-time head coach, Bob Julian Sr., is the father of the elite Olympic runners coach at the Oregon Project, Pete Julian, who graduated from AHS. The Julian family has stepped in to take a key role in raising money for a new track with a goal of putting a surface down this fall and having a brand-new oval for the spring track season.
These elite runners have donated their signed gear to support the project, known as the AHS Track Restoration Campaign. “We are very fortunate to receive the support of these world-class athletes,” said Pete Julian, who has been part of the Ashland track restoration effort since early 2017 and whose work for the Nike Oregon Project began in 2012. “Running enthusiasts should be thrilled. We have received personally autographed running gear used in actual training and races. This is like owning a piece of history. I asked the athletes to contribute something from their running career that meant something personal to them. The team came through in a big way.”
Despite not having a home track, Ashland High School’s track and field team has around 100 members. These runners, jumpers, and throwers have used facilities at other schools when hosting meets since 2015. The track at AHS has now been closed permanently, meaning they don’t even have access for training.
The auction, which started on Tuesday, July 25, is being run on Ebay’s Charity Auction system. The auction will run approximately 10 days, so it’s should run until around Thursday this week. Fans from around the world will have the opportunity to bid on autographed gear, including spikes, race singlets, and warm-up gear. Here’s some of what was donated for the fund raiser:
- Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, has autographed and donated the Nike Oregon Project jersey he wore in the 2017 USATF Distance Classic
- Matthew Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 1500 meter, has signed an official Nike Oregon Project jersey
- Track spikes from two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp
… plus items from other athletes as mentioned above.
100% of the proceeds for the auction will go to rebuilding the Ashland track through the non-profit Ashland Schools Foundation found at www.ashlandschoolsfoundation.org. The organizers are hoping that the auction can bring in as much as $10,000. If you want to support their efforts towards the new track and don’t win any auction items, you can make a flat donation, as well – and be sure to spread the word to help out the students at AHS and their running community.
Run Oregon would like to thank Susan Bacon, Executive Director of the Ashland Schools Foundation for telling us about this fund raiser – and her support of youth and community running programs.