New Balance Maine Distance Festival
Whittier Field, Hubbard Grandstand and
This invitational event has a special magic and intimacy. Maine is a place of incredible beauty and Whittier Field at Bowdoin College is no exception. Named after Frank Nathaniel Whittier, Bowdoin class of 1885, who served as the college's director of athletics and physician, Whittier Field was prepared for athletic use in 1896. In 1904 a grandstand which provided seats close to the action and locker rooms and showers for the athletes was designed by the English-born architect, Henry Vaughan. Vaughan, who later assisted in the design of Washington's National Cathedral, had just completed the stately Hubbard Hall on Bowdoin College's main quadrangle. A few things have changed since the 1904 Hubbard Grandstand. The athletes' facilities have been upgraded, the grandstand enlarged, and the J.J. Magee Track, a 400-meter Rekortan track, now surrounds the playing field. But Whittier Field remains the intimate, pine-tree-enclosed setting it was in 1896. Both the intimacy and the historic nature of the field are captured in Mel Gibson's Man Without a Face, filmed here in 1994.
Whittier Field served the legendary 1972 U.S. Olympic Team prior to its Munich departure. The training camp that summer included such distance and middle distance stars as Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine and Dave Wottle. Many track fans in the area still remember fondly the members of that team and their interactions with the community. This memory was strengthened by the return of Frank Shorter in 1998, who represented New Balance in its support of the 5th Annual New Balance Distance Festival and the competing athletes.
Whittier Field and Hubbard Grandstand remind many competitors of a small Hayward Field. Majestic pine trees press against the backstretch and the final turn of the track. In this compact twilight meet, the races finish in the middle of the track in full view of the great fans seated near the field. All races will be finishlynx auto timed. The setting has proved its friendliness to competitors by providing two American records and qaulity meet records. Come join the many fans at this meet who are among the most knowledgeable and vocal in their support of distance runners.