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Byline: Andrea Damewood The Register-Guard

The big thermostat in the sky is forecast to be cranked up high this weekend - and spectators and athletes at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials will be sweating the details of how to handle the unusual heat.

On Friday, the opening day of activities, the mercury could reach 91 degrees, while temperatures could climb to 95 on Saturday and 94 on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in Portland., meanwhile, predicts highs during those three days of between 85 and 90 degrees. Either way, the temperatures easily will exceed the highs in the upper 70stypically seen this time of year.

While summerlike conditions are part of the job description for world-class track and field athletes, those scheduled to be on the field all day over the weekend, such as decathletes, will face the greatest challenge staying in top form, officials said.

Watching the athletes' efforts will be no easy task either: As the sun rises, visitors will find themselves perched in the hot seat - all 16,500 of them at Hayward Field.

"It will be warm, and we want folks to think that through," said Kari Westlund, president of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon.

The toasty temperatures will be a boon for some of the Trials' athletes, particularly sprinters, said Jill Geer, spokeswoman for USA Track & Field.

"Most sprinters love 90-degree heat," she said. "They're running for 20 to 30 seconds, so their muscles have to be warmed up and loose and fluid as possible."

Trials organizers anticipated the warmer conditions and scheduled distance events, which require cooler temperatures, for early mornings and late evenings, she said.

All athletes are attended by doctors, and are routinely reminded to stay in the shade when not competing, Geer said.

But the heat will conflict with some events this weekend.

The men's pole vault finals are scheduled for 2:40 p.m. Sunday, and competitors may get a bit worn down waiting to take their third or fourth turns at the pit, she said.

The hardest hit, however, will be the heptathlon and decathlon events, Geer said.

"They are literally on the track all day competing in multiple events," she said. "For those athletes, heat is an occupational hazard. Even if it's only 75 degrees, they're out there all day."

Large fans are brought in to cool multi-event athletes, who also tote large umbrellas for shade and even may use intravenous fluids to stay hydrated, she said.

Visitors' umbrellas are forbidden in the Eugene 08 Festival and in the ticketed Hayward Field area. But empty water bottles - which can be filled for free at the Eugene Water & Electric Board H2O Oasis at 15th Avenue and Agate Street in the fan festival area - and sunscreen should be part of everyone's plans, Westlund said. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved, light-colored clothing alsowill protect against the sun's rays, she said.

Still, Westlund said spectators and the 1,100 athletes competing during the 10-day event will find Eugene to be a far more temperate climate than Sacramento, the site of the Trials four years ago. Temperatures there capped out at or above 100 most days, she said.

"While our temperatures are going to feel warm to us because our weather has been so cool this spring, it's certainly going to be less warm that it was in Sacramento in e_SSRq04," Westlund said. "At 90 to the mid-90s, I don't feel a lot of concern about that. Were we over 100 degrees, we'd start to worry about sunburns and dehydration."

Red Cross stations will be present throughout the event site to help those suffering from overexposure, she said.

The heat-phobic should take heart: The heat wave won't last long, weather service meteorologist Rodger Nelson said. Temperatures will drop to the mid-80s by Tuesday, he said.

"Any time you get in the 90s in the Willamette Valley, you're above average," Nelson said. "We just aren't that warm. We have a few periods of summer where we get into the 90s, but they're generally short-lived situations."

Beat the heat

The following will be allowed into the Eugene 08 Festival area and the ticketed area at Hayward Field:

Empty water bottles (which can be filled for free once you are in)


Wide-brimmed hats

Light-colored clothing

Misting fans with water emptied

Do NOT bring:


Outside drinks


Forecast high on Friday, the opening day of the Trials


Forecast high on Saturday, with 94 on Sunday
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Heat may be a trial at weekend events
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 26, 2008
Previous Article:Despite grief, China ready to embrace athletes.

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