You don’t tell Steph Curry that for one-fourth of his season, the three point line will be at 20 feet as opposed to 23. Just as you don’t tell Ezekiel Elliott that for the first few games of the season, the field will only be 85 yards long and 50 yards wide as opposed to 100 yards long and 53 feet wide. It’d see, ridiculous to ask these athletes to train differently for part of their season than they would for the rest. The change in measurements would add another dynamic of difficulty to their sports. In track, however, that is exactly the case, as the team has two different parts of the season characterized by different regulations.
All Cal track and field athletes, save for three members who have qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, have ended their indoor seasons and will now turn their attention to the outdoor season. Cal will open this portion of the season Saturday at Edwards Stadium.
The indoor season contains many restrictions and nuances that differ from the outdoor, which alter not only the training in preparation for the meets but also the actual meet events themselves. Contrary to the name of the seasons, location of venue is not the only difference. One of the biggest distinctions is that during indoor season, the track is smaller. Instead of 400 meters for one oval, you have tracks that are 200 to 300 meters.
“The turns are tighter, the lanes are smaller,” said Cal director of track and field Tony Sandoval. “It does affect a lot of the strategy and you do run a little slower indoors because of that.”
In addition, the field event’s runways are not as long, and temporary runways are used in lieu of permanent ones.
“Wooden runways are placed on top of turf, so there is a little bit of bounce that interferes with jumping events,” Sandoval said.
Overall, indoor season is more restrictive, reduces the length of events and forces events into smaller stadiums. For example, junior Ashtyn Davis found huge success in the 60-meter hurdles, yet he will now face a new challenge when his event increases in length to 110 meters.
The transition to outdoor season also adds a wider variety of events to the list. In indoor, only the weight throw and shotput are permitted, cutting the number of throwing events from four to two. Junior throwers Peter Simon and Destiny Parker will now be able to participate in some of their best events of discus and hammer throw.
Track and field has a unique dichotomy — two seasons in one — that no other sport has. These athletes prove that they are dynamic and adaptable by not only competing in a variety of different skilled events, but by competing under two different sets of regulations in a given season.
Even the best athletes in the world aren’t asked to deal with the dynamics of their sport changing mid-stream. The Bears have to do it every year. We will see how the track and field athletes hold up to the difficult task this weekend.