Editor’s Note: Please consider and follow all local and state guidelines in terms of outdoor activity and park use as you read this inspiring and creative approach that some local athletes are taking to staying competitive.
With high school and collegiate seasons canceled and even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed, track athletes of all levels are suddenly left unable to compete in seasons that have been months, in some cases years, in the making. Though necessary and sensible, these cancelations delivered a devastating blow to athletes around the world. In spring of 2019, high school and college seniors unwittingly laced up their spikes for the last time.
In the midst of all that’s been lost, my fellow track athletes at Calumet College of St. Joseph and I have created a way for jumpers, sprinters, throwers, middle distance, and distance runners everywhere to get back in the competition: a movement we’ve dubbed Take Back Track.
What exactly is take back track?
First and foremost, Take Back Track is a way to compete virtually with athletes from all over the globe. All you need is internet access and a way to record your results, whether that’s a stopwatch, a running app, or a video.
Follow the movement take_back_track on Instagram. Click on the link in the page’s bio to view the full website at takebacktrack.com. Here, you’ll find a description of rules and regulations. Simply review these guidelines, choose one of the listed events, and head out to record your results!
“When the season was suspended, it left a hole in me,” said Daveyon Blacknell, member of CCSJ’s sprints crew. “I had just set my goals for outdoor and was looking forward for a fresh start after indoor. Take Back Track gave me new hope that all my hard work wasn’t for nothing, that there is still a way that I can accomplish the goals I have this year.”
Runners can complete their distance on a track or measure their distance on a bike trail, sidewalk, or local park. Final results must be recorded via screenshot or video from a running app or stopwatch.
CCSJ Sophomore Delilah Delgado kickstarted the running entries and hopes her 400m run will inspire other middle-distance runners to spike up.
“I know others, as well as myself, took the cancelation of spring sports pretty hard,” Delgado said. “I’m doing this to show that track is never truly over.”
Jumpers can complete a vertical jump in lieu of high jump, or a standing long jump in place of the traditional long jump. Jumps must be measured with a tape measure and recorded in one continuous video. Before cutting off the camera, they must zoom in to show their final results.
“The goal is to push ourselves to reach our best standards even without having an official season,” said sophomore Brenden Melvin, sprinter and jumper for CCSJ. “Having this website where we can go to see what others are posting in our events recreates the competitive atmosphere that we thought we lost this season.”
Once athletes have recorded their results, they can post them on Instagram with the hashtag #takebacktrack. They can tag the official page and encourage others to join!
“We created this challenge so we could experience that feeling of stepping on the starting line this spring,” said junior Grace Dwyer, distance runner and two-time national qualifier. “Even if the starting line is a crack in the sidewalk, a stray branch from a tree, or the fence in our back yard. Take Back Track is our way to still compete while remaining safe. We hope that athletes of all levels will participate.”
The team’s hope is that this ongoing virtual track meet rekindles that sense of competition athletes crave and inspires them to keep a positive state of mind.
“During a time like this, it is so easy to just give up after being stripped of something we all know and love, along with the support system that comes with it,” said junior sprinter Keara Weisek. “This challenge not only gives us a little piece of track back, but it unites runners from literally everywhere into a great support system for each other. Who doesn’t love friendly competition, even if it happens from home? There’s no limit on the things we can still accomplish as long as we have the drive to keep chasing goals!”
Physical meets might be canceled, but track itself is never canceled. Roads are not canceled, parks are not canceled, bike trails are not canceled. The essence of what track stands for is still out there. Take Back Track aims to prove that you don’t need an oval or even a stadium full of people to bring competition back into our lives.
“This challenge is a great way to gain something that we’ve lost,” said junior Arianna Canales, member of the distance squad and school record holder in both the 3,000m and 5,000m racewalk. “Track is more than just a sport for some people, and being able to compete provides a sense of clarity in our lives. As we accomplish goals on the track, we realize we can conquer anything the world throws at us, including COVID-19.”