Finnley OG

Christin Engelberth's First Depiction of Finnley Von Fleetfoot

Fleetfoot’s Rise was written as a celebration of Eugene, its rich ties to the world of track and field, and its passionate social service sector. We wanted to help visitors at the World Championships understand some of the people and places that make Lane County a special place to call home.

This document aims to share some of the stories of those special people and places and how they intersect with the book.

If you would like to take a tour of the locations referenced in Fleetfoot’s Rise, check out the Scavenger Hunt

To jump ahead to a specific story, please click below:

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On the tail end of a few years interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to share a story of hope, of gathering and of bringing people back together. In the damper, darker upper, and latitudes of the world, we get a moment like that each year – when the sun suddenly announces its seasonal return – releasing a jubilant, sun-starved population back outdoors.

Finnley represents the Hope we share about all children - that they will have the support needed to overcome the challenges they face – support that is particularly important when children are facing systemic and historical barriers that can inhibit their ability to succeed.

Throughout the book we also incorporated ideas from our organization’s 9 Core Assets - Growth Mindset, Positive Relationship Building, Find your Spark, Problem-Solving, Self-Determination, Self-Management, Perseverance/Grit, Hope, and Belonging.

To support kids like Finnley while they Find Their Spark and overcome their real-world challenges, please consider supporting Friends of the Children – Lane County.

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Photographer Unknown - obtained from

Matthew “Mack” McKenzie Robinson

Her coach and mentor….Always around in moments like these, when quitting was close”

There is a special connection between mentorship and sports where coaches often exemplify Positive Relationships, building influential role in the lives of their athletes, inspiring them to heights they might not attain on their own. Our organization has been privileged to grow up with support of many key athletes including: Ashton and Briane Eaton, Joey Harrington, Jon Anderson, Mike Manley, Verone McKinley III, Cam McCormick, and through our national organization by Michael Jordan, Simone Biles and Russel Wilson. We felt very honored that a coach of Robert Johnson’s stature would volunteer to be a co-author on our project, and we knew emphasizing the key role of coaches as mentors would play a key role in our story.

While we’ll address why the character’s name is Bill in other parts of this document, we begin with the incredible story of Matthew “Mack” Robinson, a man who’s story remains relatively unknown because it’s over-shadowed by two of the most famous figures in the history of sport.

In 1920, the Robinson’s became the first Black family to live on Pepper Street in Pasadena after moving from Georgia in the hopes of a new beginning. In segregated Pasadena, many neighborhoods were still white-only and recreational opportunities remained very limited for black children. Those early experiences of discrimination would shape the lives of both Mack and his younger brother Jackie. When his athletic career came to a close, Mack made it his mission to improve his hometown. His success in doing so is a big part of why the federal Matthew 'Mack' Robinson Post Office Building in Pasadena bears his name to this day.

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Image courtesy Pasadena Museum of History Archives

Doctors told Mack Robinson that running could be fatal for him due to a heart ailment. In an incredible display of self-determination in spite of the added challenge, Mack won every 100-dash he was in and became the California State Champion in 1934.

In 1936, Mack raised $150 from Pasadena businesspeople and took the train to Randall Island New York to compete in the US Olympic Trials. Even though Mack was still wearing the same beat-up spikes he’d worn at Pasadena Junior College, the only person to run faster than Robinson in the finals of the 200-meter was Jesse Owens earning Mack a spot on the US Olympic team.

Adolph Hitler hoped the 1936 games would showcase Arian superiority. Black and Jewish athletes were almost not allowed to attend the event. What the German Führer wanted; however, concluded with Mack, Jesse and other athletes demonstrating their unmatched talents and providing a body-blow to racist ideology in front of an unprecedented 100,000 fans and a first-of-its-kind televised audience.

In the finals of the 200, Mack tied the existing Olympic Record with a time of 21.1 seconds, but was bested by the talented Owens who crossed the finish line in 20.7 seconds, wearing a pair of new Adidas. Mack was still wearing his well-worn old spikes which he attested might have been the difference.

In 2016, the 1936 Olympic journey of the eighteen Black American athletes, including Robinson, was documented in the film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.

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One of Christin Engelberth's early sketches of "Bill" from Fleetfoot's Rise.

After participating in the Olympics Mack went on to attend the University of Oregon and won numerous titles in NCAA, AAU and Pacific Coast Conference track meets. Mack was honored as a member of both the University of Oregon Hall and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

Mack’s brother, Jackie Robinson, started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, ending the practice of segregating professional baseball which, since the 1880s had relegated talented black players to the Negro leagues. During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. As the brunt of considerable racism and violence, Robinson’s talent and leadership contributed significantly to the civil rights movement. In 1997, Jackie’s uniform number, 42, was retired across all major league teams – making him the first athlete in any sport to be honored in this way.

In approaching our story we originally intended to have the character of Bill (who honors three of the University of Oregon’s long-term coaches that preceded Robert Johnson) look a little more like Bill Dellinger or Bill Bowerman. Local artist, Ila Rose, whose mural is featured later in the book asked a wonderful question that inspired a shift toward using the platform to represent “Bill” as Mack instead. Only 30% of children’s books include racially diverse characters and/or subjects. The glaring gap of BIPOC protagonists, amplifies racial and ethnic prejudices and can make it even more challenging for children of color to develop positive feelings associated with their own identities. Honoring Mack visually felt like a way that we could help, albeit in a small way, to eradicate this inequity.

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Christin Engelberth's Depiction of the Hall of Champions in Fleetfoot's Rise

“Then had come the festivity. The Communion. The Glory. The return to joy. The champion’s image forever heralded in the Great Hall of Champions.”

As she visits the Hall of Champions, Finnley imagines a host of previous Light Launchers, represented by a quartet of UO track Legends: Ashton and Brianne Eaton, Steve Prefontaine and Raevyn Rogers. While just a sampling of UO greats, we share a bit about each of them here.

Ashton Eaton and Brianne Thiessen-Eaton

Ashton and Brianne Eaton helped inspire Fleetfoot’s Rise during a discussion at the inaugural Eaton Family-Athlon in 2021. A fundraiser for Friends of the Children, the 2021 event was the first youth event held at the new Hayward Field in conjunction with the professional Prefontaine Classic track meet, and accomplished in partnership with USATF, KIDSPORTS and TrackTown USA. It is hoped the event will become an annual event on the community calendar.


Ashton "throwing the 'O'" at Hayward Field. Christian Peterson/Getty Images

A celebrated Oregon native, Ashton James Eaton is a two-time Olympic champion and still holds the world record in the indoor heptathlon event. He was a five-time NCAA champion at the University of Oregon, and won The Bowerman award in 2010.

After setting the world record at the Olympic Trials, Eaton won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He successfully defended his Olympic title in Rio 2016 by winning while tying the Olympic record.

Eaton was the second decathlete to break the 9,000-point barrier in the decathlon, with 9,039 points, a score he bettered on August 29, 2015, when he beat his own world record with a score of 9,045 points, and remains the only person to exceed 9000 points twice.

Ashton first met Canadian multi-event athlete Brianne Theisen, in 2006 during Eaton's freshman year at Oregon before falling in love at the 2007 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. After winning the gold medal for Canada at that event, Thiessen joined Ashton at the University of Oregon.

The super couple was married on July 15, 2013, one year after both competed in the London Olympics. The two of them starred in a Visa Inc. advertisement that aired during the 2016 Summer Olympics, which poked fun at their romance, their growth mindset and competitive spirit.

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Brianne Thiessen Eaton readying her own harpoon of hope. Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

At the University of Oregon, Brianne broke a number of school records, winning back-to-back NCAA heptathlon titles in 2009 and 2010. She also won the NCAA Indoor Championship twice, breaking the collegiate pentathlon record in 2011.

Brianne Theisen-Eaton won the bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Theisen-Eaton holds multiple medals from the 2013, 2014, and 2015 World Championships. And is the first and only Canadian woman to podium in the multi-events at the World Championships. Theisen-Eaton won Commonwealth Games gold in the heptathlon at Glasgow 2014 and was the 2016 World Indoor Champion in the pentathlon. She also won a bronze medal as part of the women's 4 x 400 m relay at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

Brianne holds the Canadian record for the heptathlon with 6,808 points, as well as the indoor pentathlon with a score of 4768 points.

Both Brianne and Ashton were honored as member’s of WCH Oregon22 Heritage Trail.

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Pre in front of the Hayward home crowd. John Iacono/Getty IMages

Steve "Pre" Prefontaine

An Oregon native, from Coos Bay, Steve Roland "Pre" Prefontaine’s High School coach, Walt McClure had run under coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon where his father, Walt McClure, Sr. had run under Bill Hayward. In his junior cross country season, Pre went undefeated and won the state title. In his senior year, he obtained a national record and won two more state titles.

Steve Prefontaine enrolled at the University of Oregon to train under coach Bill Bowerman. A local celebrity, local fans liked to wear T-shirts that read "LEGEND" or "GO PRE", at Hayward. Prefontaine rapidly gained national attention and in June 1970, at the age of 19, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The media that Pre generated is thought to have contributed significantly to the 70’s “running boom”.

Part of his notoriety stemmed from Pre’s characteristic aggressive front running - insisting on blasting out from the start. He once said, "I am going to work so that it's a pure guts race. In the end, if it is, I'm the only one that can win it". There is perhaps no better example of an individual athletically embracing the core values of Grit and Perseverance.

In his four years at Oregon, Prefontaine never lost a collegiate (NCAA) race at 3 miles, 5,000 meters, 6 miles, or 10,000 meters. He won three Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships and four straight three-mile/5000-meter titles in track. He ended his collegiate career with only three defeats in Eugene, all in the mile.

While running for the Oregon Track Club, Prefontaine set American records at every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 meters, as he prepared for the 1976 Olympics.

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Pre's Rock just east of the UO Campus. Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Tragically, Pre flipped his convertible and was killed in 1975, just east of the track that had held so many of his the key moments of his meteoric rise. At the site of the crash, “Pre's Rock” was dedicated in December 1997 and is maintained by Eugene Parks and Recreation as Prefontaine Memorial Park. The rock (44.0433°N 123.0549°W) is a mile due east of Hayward Field. Runners inspired by Prefontaine leave behind memorabilia to honor his memory and his continued influence, a tradition that reaches a height during important or noteworthy running events in Eugene.

In 1983Pre was honored in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. One of the premier track meets in the world, the Prefontaine Classic, is held annually in Eugene in his honor.

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Raevyn Rogers in her University of Oregon kit. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Raevyn Rogers

Rogers, a Texas native, enrolled at the University of Oregon in 2014. She became a six-time NCAA Division I champion and ten-time All-American. She won three consecutive outdoor 800 meters NCAA and Pac-12 Conference titles (2015, 2016, 2017) as well as the 2017 Women's Bowerman Award. Rogers collegiate record in the 800 meters set in her final year with the Ducks (1:59.10) smashed a 27-year-old record.

Her win at the 2015 NCAA championships, contributed 10 points to a total of 59 team points, which won the meet for Oregon for the first time since 1985 in front of hometown crowd at Hayward - forever endeared her to local track enthusiasts.

Raevyn Rogers turned professional in 2017. At the 2019 World Championships, Rogers came from seventh with 100m remaining in the race to place silver. She earned a world indoor title as a member of national 4x400 m relay squad that took gold at the 2018 World Indoor Championships. She won a bronze medal in the 800 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the fourth fastest woman in U.S. history in the event.

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Spencer Butte

The summit of Spencer's Butte. Photographer unknown.

Spencer's Butte

“For hours, she’d maintained momentum, successfully bounding up All-By-Yourself Butte…”

At several points in Fleetfoot’s Rise, we see illustrations of champions summiting a hill that looks out over Highvert to heave their harpoons towards the tower. The hill in the image is intended to be a reference to Eugene’s iconic Spencer’s Butte that looms over the City.

“All-By-Yourself Butte” gains it’s name in Fleetfoot’s Rise is a reference to Friends of the Children’s Core Asset of Belonging. Research has shown that a sense of belonging is crucial to our life satisfaction, happiness, mental and physical health, and even longevity. As we continue our emergence from COVID-19 isolation, we can all use help getting reconnected to one-another, particularly with groups and children that have been historically marginalized.

At 2,058 feet, Spencer Butte is the highest point along Eugene’s 2,100-acre Ridgeline Park system. It has been a popular destination for generations of hikers. In recent years, as many as 300 visitors per day make the trek to the summit to enjoy unobstructed views of the city and valleys below.

The Main Summit Trail is the most popular route to the summit. Gradually climbing to the top, highlights include an artful dry-stone masonry causeway, mature Douglas-fir forest, and numerous wildflower meadows. As hikers climb above the tree line, the the summit provides panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains, Coast Range, and the Willamette Valley.

The award-winning 2015 project to install the stone stairways (the visual inspiration for the Stairs of Despairs in the main scene of Fleetfoot’s Rise), along with other trail improvements, helped to increase accessibility and protect the ecosystem.

The West Trail, perhaps the most challenging hike on the Ridgeline Trail, offers an alternative route to the summit. This less-traveled route begins may require some scrambling and can be slippery in wet weather.

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Christin Engelberth's Stairs of Despairs in Fleetfoot's Rise.

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Stone steps on the Spencer's Butte trail. Photographer unknown.

Skinner's Butte Trails

“as she descended the Stairs of Despairs, with their awful murmurings of self- doubt, she’d second-guessed herself and stumbled. Head over heels she’d tumbled until, at last, she’d landed in a heap of gloom.”

In the main scene of Fleetfoot’s Rise, Finnley finds herself at the bottom of the Stairs of Despairs. The stairs and the disparaging line of the questions of the murk worms, are intended to represent the cycle of self-doubt that plague so many of us in the pursuit of our dreams. Finnley’s gumption and self-management in rising from common and uncommon despair is the true center of the book.

The stairs are a physical representation of the newer stairs built into the Ridgeline trail system on Spencer’s Butte. Using creative privilege, however, we imagined these amazing stones being a part of the Skinner’s Butte trail system. Skinner’s has several trail-heads trail-heads (on the north side, off Cheshire Avenue; the columns on the west side; and from the summit which can be driven to). Many of the trails and retaining walls were done during the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps works projects. The trails starting on the North side of the butte can be hiked in 30 minutes to 45 mins, round trip.

The two Buttes in Fleetfoot’s Rise also serve as the inspiration behind Eugene longest-standing road race, the Butte to Butte. Established in 1973, the Butte to Butte is Eugene’s longest running community road race that inspires 4,000 participants a year. As with most running races in Eugene, amateurs are often joined by legendary elite athletes. Previous winners of the Butte to Butte include: Jon Anderson and Alberto Salazar (both winners of the Boston Marathon), Carlos Trujillo (NCAA 10,000 meter champion), Lili Leadbetter (previous winner of the Eugene marathon), and Alexi Pappas (3 time NCAA All American).

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The Columns at Skinner's Butte. Photographer unknown.

Skinner’s Butte Columns

overcoming the fields filled with The Obelisks of Overwhelm that had a tendency to subdue the unsuspecting.”

One of the most captivating visual features in downtown Eugene is the basalt columns at Skinner’s Butte, referenced in Fleetfoot’s Rise as “The Obelisks of Overwhelm”. So many of us have been faced with the sense of overwhelm in these past few years, and it is through tremendous perseverance and problem solving that we have collectively emerged back into the sunshine.

The columns at Skinners Butte were a part of a basalt quarry that was used throughout the region, until it was abandoned in the early 1930s. In the 1970s abandoned quarry became a popular rock-climbing area due to the numerous 45-foot-high basalt columns.

The columns are formally a part of Skinner Butte Park, one of Eugene's oldest parks, dedicated in 1914. The park includes 100 acres of property including sections of the Willamette River just north of downtown Eugene. The park includes land claimed by Eugene Skinner for his home and ferry service. As the birthplace of the current community, Skinner Butte Park plays a unique role in the history of the City.

The first Euro-American settler of the southern Willamette Valley, Skinner’s occupation of this section of the Willamette Valley displaced members of the Indigenous Kalapuya, Chifin, Winefelly, Pee-u (Mohawk), and Chelamela tribes.

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“She’d run the Ridgeline of Resolve....”

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Ridgeline Trail by age fotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

Ridgeline Trail

Finnley Von Fleetfoot perseveres through the Ridgeline of Resolve, a shout out to Eugene’s Ridgeline Trail. Grit and Perseverance are key components of Friends of the Children’s 9 Core Asset framework. While the ability to endure adversity is a critical skill to develop for everyone (and perhaps for athletes in particular), we also recognize that many people are dealing with extraordinary hardships, beyond their control, brought about by systems that disproportionately impact people of color, people experiencing poverty and other marginalized populations. This reality confronts the idea that if disadvantaged groups would just “bootstrap” they have the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else. At Friends we believe that, on our journey to eradicate inequitable systems all together, providing relentless support to children and families facing unjust systemic challenges is a practical avenue to create a more equitable community.

A different sort of path forward, the Ridgeline system is a group of semi-connected parklands that sits at the southern edge of Eugene. Twelve miles of trail, popular with local runners, hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts are accessible from seven main trailheads. The Ridgeline trail is also a great place for bird watching and is home to a number of rare botanical species. The trail system includes sections on Spencer Butte, Suzanne Arlie Park, Amazon Headwaters, Mt. Baldy, Blanton Ridge, Moon Mountain, South Eugene Meadows, and Wild Iris Ridge.

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Sunset over west Eugene's wetlands. Travel Lane County.

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An early sketch of Christin Engelberth's marshland in Fleetfoot's Rise.

Eugene’s Wetlands

“persevered through the Murk Worm’s Marshland…”

Finnley remembers steeplechasing through the Murk Worm’s Marshland in Fleetfoot’s Rise. The Marshland is a reference to Eugene’s critically important wetlands habitats. In the western portion of town, the West Eugene Wetlands include over 3,000 acres of wetland prairie habitat.

The wet prairie provides high native plant diversity and habitat for wildlife species that depend on grasslands, such as the western meadowlark, Oregon’s state bird (the bird that appears in the final illustration in Fleetfoot’s Rise). The West Eugene Wetlands’ wet prairies host the highest known diversity of dragonflies, damselflies, beaver, river otter, and Pacific chorus frogs join the over 200 wildlife species that call the West Eugene Wetlands home. Rare plants and the Fender’s blue butterfly, a federally-endangered species, are also present in the West Eugene Wetlands.

Visit this link to learn more about this beautiful, unique and visitable resource:

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DeFazio Pedestrian Bridge. Robert Cortright.

DeFazio Pedestrian Bridge

and successfully stunned the Sentinel that secured the river crossing into HighVert.”

The DeFazio Pedestrian Bridge is easily accessible from Eugene’s Riverfront Park Festival. In Fleetfoot’s Rise, Finnley remembers navigating the structure, and its murk worm sentinel, on her way to HighVert. Crossing the Willamette River, the bridge was completed in 2000 and features a unique interpretation of the classic suspension bridge. The bridge is named after Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio who has served Oregon’s 4th Congressional District (that includes Eugene) since 1987. The bridge serves as a primary connection between downtown Eugene and Alton Baker park, a perfect spot for picnics.

We also really wanted to acknowledge the importance of the Willamette River as a centerpiece of the community. One of our great outdoor resources is the Willamette River Trail, formally called the The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System. The 12 mile trail is collection of interconnected multi-use paved paths running that connect the two cities of Eugene and Springfield and is heavily used by locals. It is not uncommon to see elite-level runners out on the paths enjoying the picturesque path system.

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Bill Dellinger celebrating in front of the west stands at Hayward Field. Rich Clarkson/Getty Images.

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Christin Engelberth's original depiction of "Bill" - a creative interpretation of the University of Oregon's long-term coaches that inspired the name.

Bill Dellinger

Bill smiled feebly at her and continued. “Finnegan, you’ve got more pounds of possibility packed into one of your little freckles than most will ever muster, though I know it might not always feel like it.”

Still a beloved community icon, Bill Dellinger was an accomplished track athlete before becoming a coach, competing in multiple Olympics and winning a bronze medal in 1964, while setting his personal record in the 5,000.

When he retired from competition, Dellinger took a position as the assistant coach to Bill Bowerman for the Oregon Ducks. In 1972, Dellinger succeeded Bowerman as head coach. During his 25 years of coaching, Dellinger's men won five NCAA titles, had a 134-29 record and oversaw 108 students awarded All-American honors.

Dellinger was instrumental in the rise of stars like Steve Prefontaine, Mary Decker, Bill McChesney, Alberto Salazar, Matt Centrowitz, Don Clary, and David Mack (who now serves on the Board of Friends of the Children – Lane County).

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Bill Hayward in front of old stands. University of Oregon

Bill Hayward

Considered the father of Oregon track and field, the word-class track facility at the University of Oregon still bears his name. During his 44-year career as a Duck coach, Bill Hayward was known as the “Grand Old Man”. Hayward helped develop nine Olympians, six American record holders and four world record holders. Hayward was also supported the US Olympic teams from 1908-1932. In Fleetfoot’s Rise, Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, is referenced as Highvert, to make a shout-out to the sport’s jumpers.

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Bill Bowerman with Steve Prefontaine. James Drake/Getty Images.

Bill Bowerman

Bill Bowerman became the head track coach at his alma mater, the University of Oregon, on July 1, 1948, a position he would hold for 24 years. During that span, the University of Oregon, track and field team had a winning season every season but one, attained 4 NCAA titles, and finished in the top 10 in the nation 16 times. Bill helped develop 33 Olympic athletes, 64 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4-minute milers.

Among athletes that Bowerman coached are: Otis Davis, Steve Prefontaine, Kenny Moore, Bill Dellinger, Mac Wilkins, Jack Hutchins, Dyrol Burleson, Harry Jerome, Sig Ohlemann, Les Tipton, Gerry Moro, Wade Bell, Dave Edstrom, Roscoe Divine, Matt Centrowitz, Arne Kvalheim, Jim Grelle, Bruce Mortenson and Phil Knight.

In 1964, Bowerman entered into a handshake agreement with that last athlete to start an athletic footwear distribution company called Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike, Inc.


Nike Waffle Racing Flat. Ryan Unruh/UnruhJones

Bowerman and Knight initially began importing Onitsuka Tiger running shoes from Japan, before Bowerman’s designs led to the creation of a running shoe in 1966 that was ultimately named "Nike Cortez" in 1968, quickly becoming an international sensation.

Bowerman is well known for ruining his wife's Belgian waffle iron in 1970 or 1971, on his way to creating a new sole for the company’s “Moon Shoe”. After seeing the grooves in the waffle his wife offered him for breakfast, Bill wondered what the pattern would look inverted. In an attempt to find out, he poured melted urethane into his wife’s waffle iron. The urethane stuck, and glued that waffle iron shut. After refinement of the grippy sole, the 1974 “Waffle Trainer” helped launch the growth of Blue Ribbon Sports/Nike, which by the early 21st century, had retail outlets and distributors in more than 170 countries.

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Bowerman also contributed to the US Olympic teams in 1968 and 1972. In 1972, in a less well known story, Bill Bowerman was awoken by Israeli racewalker, Shaul Ladany, during the 1972 Munich Massacre in which members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization sought to exchange captured Israeli athletes for hundreds of Arab prisoners. After being awoken by Ladany, Bowerman helped alert the world that members of Israeli Olympic team had been taken hostage.

A statue of Bill Bowerman still graces the northwest corner of Hayward field. The position of “Bill” in Fleetfoot’s Rise mimics that statue. Nike has also supported Friends of the Children – Lane County through contributions of amazing recycled furniture that furnish the organization’s Eugene headquarters.

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Ila Rose's 20x21 mural in front of Elevation Bouldering Gym. 20x21EUG Mural Project

20 x 21 Mural Project

In preparation for the 2022 IAAF World Championships, the City of Eugene undertook The 20x21 Mural Project, creating 22 world-class outdoor murals in Eugene. The City and the amazing artists included in the project made a vital and vibrant contribution to the City’s landscape.

We wanted to recognize this amazing initiative in Fleetfoot’s Rise which we did by referencing the work of local Eugene artist, Ila Rose, whose mural adorns the side of Elevation Climbing Gym (an amazing partner of Friends of the Children – Lane County). In Fleetfoot’s Rise, illustrator, Christin Engelberth brought the girl in Ila’s work to life, showing her as the artist in the book painting a self portrait.

Ila artistic sensibilities and explorations of femininity and social equity aligned so well with the intentions of our book. In speaking about her mural Ila said, “…there’s the child offering her the flower and the child is not afraid. It’s this idea of a child facing an obstacle with compassion, with openness.”

To learn more about the City of Eugene’s 20x21 project please visit: City of Eugene 20x21 Project

To learn more about the amazing work of Ila Rose, please visit:

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Hayward cow pasture

Historic Hayward Field. Obtained from

Hayward Field

Hayward Field was constructed as a football stadium, that was previously a cow pasture that helped supply UO’s dormitory students with milk. For most of its existence as a football venue, it was notorious for its poor playing conditions in rainy weather. Decayed and in disrepair, the original west grandstand was built in 1925 and its roof added in 1938. Despite several improvement efforts, the field didn't drain very well even after the switch to grass, and often turned to mud.

In 1966, the football team was moved to the Autzen Stadium (across the River) and Hayward became a track-dedicated facility. In 1969, the track was widened to eight lanes and a synthetic track was laid down. The urethane and sand composite track was hard and fast; producing many world records and gaining a reputation as the world's fastest track.

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Ashton Eaton leads the pack in front of the west stands. Christian Peterson/Getty Images.

The Prefontaine Classic originated as the "Hayward Field Restoration Meet" in 1973 to help raise funds for a new west grandstand. These renovations moved the primary finish line to the track's northeast corner for the 1974 season. A new west grandstand, also made of wood with a capacity of 4,300 spectators, was ready for use in March 1975. One of Hayward’s preeminent annual events,

In 2018, it was announced that Hayward field would undergo a major renovation. The renovation would demolish both current grandstands and establish a new stadium around the track with a capacity of 12,900, expandable to nearly 30,000 for major events.

The new renovation is a progressive vision for what a track facility can provide. Underground facilities enable athletes to continue their training in Oregon’s notoriously wet weather. Athletes have access to indoor practice areas that included a six-lane, 140-meter straightaway, as well as areas for long jump, triple jump, throws, pole vault and a barber shop and indoor weight room.

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The new Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. (c) University of Oregon.

An interpretation of the tower features heavily in Fleetfoot’s Rise, as the source of the sun that alights Oregonia (a brief nod to how inspiration is infectious across a community). While we embraced a creative interpretation of the tower, we retained its torch-inspired shape and some of the figures highlighted on its perforated metal skin.

Hayward Field has hosted USATF championships in 1986, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2011, and 2015 and the Olympic trials in 1972, 1976, 1980, 2008, 2012, and 2016. It has been the site of numerous NCAA championships, USATF Elite Running Circuit events, and the annual Nike Prefontaine Classic. The Olympic trials and the first Eaton Family-Athlon for Good were hosted in 2021 in the new stadium.

In part due to the scale of volunteers needed to assist with these events, many civilians in Lane County are knowledgeable about the nuances of track and field and some of the best track and field fans in the world. It’s a piece of who we are here in Track Town USA.

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of the local stories that inspired the creation of Fleetfoot’s Rise. If you are moved…

To find a map to the locations included in the book, please visit Scavenger Hunt

To explore more educational material about the book, please visit Educational Resources. For other hands on activities there are coloring pages too!

To order a copy of Fleetfoot’s Rise, please visit the online bookstore.

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Core assets

Friends of the Children has developed nine research-based Core Assets, which are specific qualities we focus on to ensure the social and emotional development of our youth. With our nine Core Assets in place, we believe our youth will enter adulthood with a solid foundation for future success. In this document we have highlighted where these assets have been highlighted in Fleetfoot’s Rise and within the stories of those that inspired it. To learn more about the Core Assets and the Friends of the Children model, please visit

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One of Christin Engelberth's early sketches of a victorious Finnley Von Fleetfoot