The annual Run for the Dream indoor meet that has brought a handful of elite track and field athletes, numerous college programs and hundreds of youths and teens to town will not be held this year – if ever again.
Event organizers were unable to obtain desired dates in a timely fashion to hold the Run for the Dream at Save Mart Center this year.
Then as organizers continued to search for feasible dates, Fresno State loaned out its indoor track for use as a warm-up track at the upcoming IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Ore..
Fresno State track and field coach Scott Winsor said loaning out the track provides the university with exposure and showcases the Bulldogs’ track on an international stage.
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This is great publicity for us. There wasn’t a downfall, knowing that as of October that they hadn’t even secured a date for the Run for the Dream.
Bulldogs track and field coach Scott Winsor on lending Fresno State’s indoor track for the IAAF World Indoor Championships
“This is great publicity for us,” Winsor said. “There wasn’t a downfall, knowing that, as of October, they hadn’t even secured a date for the Run for the Dream.”
But others, including Run for the Dream executive director Bob Fraley, argue that the indoor track’s intended purpose was to help grow track and field in the central San Joaquin Valley through participation on it.
And its use as a warm-up track at an international meet 750 miles north ofFresno shouldn’t take priority, they said.
“The person who built and donated the track wanted to do something for the San Joaquin Valley and the state of California,” Fraley said. “It was supposed to service our communities.”
What also remains unclear is what will happen to the track once the IAAF World Indoor Championships conclude. The championships are scheduled for March 17-20.
Winsor said the track, which was borrowed by TrackTown USA (a non-profit, private entity with links to Nike), would return to Fresno after its use and be put back in storage.
The indoor track is used in Fresno only once a year, for the Run for the Dream. It used to be stored at Save Mart Center but has been moved to a storage area in south Fresno.
$1 million Original cost of Fresno State’s indoor track, bought and donated to Fresno State in 2008 by the late Fred Arnold, a track and field enthusiast who lived in Hollywood.
Asked if Fresno State would be better off selling the track and using the money to support the track and field program in different ways, Winsor was noncommittal.
He said the indoor track could be better utilized if it was set up for at least two to three straight months without being disassembled.
But that would require Fresno State to find a facility to house the indoor track on a more permanent basis.
Save Mart Center is a multipurpose venue, most regularly used for Bulldogs basketball games, concerts and graduations.
“If we could find a facility that we could set it up and leave it there, I think we could make a lot of money off that track,” Winsor said. “There are plenty of Division I schools on the West Coast … that have to travel far because there isn’t an indoor facility closer by.
“But we’d have to have a facility to keep to leave it up. Honestly, that’s on the back burner.”
Winsor referenced the ongoing renovations of Warmerdam Field (the on-campus track and field facility) as the program’s current priority.
The indoor track was donated to Fresno State by the late Fred Arnold, a track and field enthusiast who was friends with Fraley and spent $1 million to customize a track to go inside Save Mart Center.
The Run for the Dream has been held for nine of the past 10 years (skipped in 2007), the past eight using the custom track.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to the track. But if they sell it, I’m afraid that’s it for the Run for the Dream.
Ricardo Gonzalez, Run for the Dream assistant director
Emphasis on the event has evolved over the years, initially spotlighting 60 professional athletes but now focusing more on the 1,000-plus high school athletes who compete in summer qualifiers for a chance to participate in the Run for the Dream.
Crowd attendance has been sparse over the years, with the event held on Sundays and Mondays because of the Save Mart Center’s scheduling obligations to basketball games and concerts. The Run for the Dream did draw an announced crowd of 5,806 during the meet’s first year in 2006.
More so, the event has become that rare opportunity for roughly 1,500 athletes to compete on an indoor track. Last year, about 1,200 athletes from the high school ranks participated.
“I know a lot of people who are very upset that we’re not having it this year,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, a Run for the Dream assistant director who heads the youth division. “Not just in the Valley but around the state.
“At this point, I don’t know what’s going to happen to the track. But if they sell it, I’m afraid that’s it for the Run for the Dream.”