MILTON-FREEWATER - Runners from all over Oregon and Washington are lacing up their track shoes and shining their shot in anticipation of the running of the 76th Carnival of Speed at Mac-Hi's Shockman Field on Friday.
The event, which includes 21 schools from both states, is one of the largest of its kind. Mac-Hi track coach and Carnival organizer John Milleson anticipated anywhere from 400 to 500 athletes arriving for the daylong event, which starts at 11 a.m.
Despite it being his seventh year running the Carnival, and his 16th helping with the event, Milleson said organizing the day at the track was anything but old hat.
"Logistically it's a challenge, just in the numbers," Milleson said. "Getting that many kids and coaches together for a day track meet is a struggle. My assistant coaches Pam Milleson and Stacie Pickler have been great getting the them together."
Pickler and Pam Milleson (John's wife and previous Mac-Hi track coach) become even more important on the actual day, as Milleson said he will largely be unable to help run his own team.
"This is one meet where I don't even keep track of my kids because I'm basically the meet director," Milleson said. "My assistant coaches basically watch the kids and I run the track meet. There's a few events that I take particular interest in and I want to watch them."
Milleson said the event takes between 40 and 55 volunteers from the community to pull off.
"I try to stay away from using parents so they can watch their kids," Milleson said. "The rest are just volunteers from the community, we've got good community support."
So why do it all, why not just have a normal sized meet?
"You get some great competition," Milleson said. "You get to see some of the fastest kids from all the small schools in Oregon and Washington, you get to see a lot of variety. Everyone likes the challenge. It's good for the coaches and it's good for the athletes."
Local schools attending the Carnival of Speed include Mac-Hi, Waitsburg-Prescott, Weston-McEwen, Walla Walla Valley Academy, Dayton and DeSales.