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Our View: The truth of who we are

March 30, 2012

There are times we can look in the mirror and feel great about what we see.

One of those times is happening now with the Mammoth Track Project. The timing of it is perfect and the funding of it was prescient and visionary.

The new track is to be situated near the Whitmore Ball Fields and pool. It will be a top-drawer, all-weather Olympic track, with an indestructible artificial turf infield for soccer, football and field events.

Much of the funding for the track already is in hand, thanks to the indefatigable Elaine Smith of the High Sierra Striders running club, the Mammoth Track Club, and the High Sierra Triathlon Club. The difference in funding would be made up by Measure U funds. The Measure U funds will begin to be distributed in mid-May, and the track project is front and center.

Measure U, like Measure R before it, exists because we the people decided to tax ourselves to make our mountain resort town a better place for recreation, arts and culture.

These are untouchable funds, are independent of any monies that might be involved in the town’s $42 million settlement with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition (MLLA). Without our self-taxing vision, the notion of a track would be a pipedream.

But it’s not, because we voted for it. It can only be undone if we put it on the ballot again—a bad idea all around.

The timing of the project is unbelievably perfect.

Our distance runners already have established themselves as some of the best in the world. If things break right, Mammoth will send seven of the 24-member distance running team to London for this summer’s Olympic Games.

We have great ambassadors in this endeavor, and it’s not just the athletes.

John Urdi, a relative newcomer to town, saw the potential for Mammoth as a high-altitude training Mecca as soon as he touched down from Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming, where he worked before.

An inveterate marketer and analyst, Urdi is at all the top distance events, evangelizing Mammoth and glad-handing people who matter.

In April, he will be at the Boston Marathon, for example, just as he and the Mammoth Track Club established a big presence at the U.S. Marathon Trial in Houston last month.

Now, with a shovel in the ground for a true track, Urdi and the town’s runners will put a significant new piece in Mammoth’s quiver—a facility that could appeal to middle-distance and sprint racers.

We no longer exist in a bubble and it does not appear as if we are ever going to go back to what we once were.

Last Sunday, the Los Angeles Times produced a special package of stories about Mammoth. In the piece, the Times alluded to the idea that Olympic marathon team runner Meb Keflezighi and former Olympic marathon medal winner Deena Kastor, among others, “have pushed the country’s Olympic hopes higher and higher.”

“This place is on the map on the elite side,” the article quoted Track Club coach Terrence Mahon. “We’re definitely getting more international.” 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Rowing team has talked about moving its training camp to Mammoth. Runners from Japan, Hungary, Kenya and Ethiopia have been here.

There are whispers afloat that big nutrition companies such as PowerBar may want to establish training centers here.

We did all that—the citizens of Mammoth. We did it, we continue to do it, and, with the track, we will continue to expand.

Good for us, and from time to time, take a look at a mirror. It reflects the truth of who we are.

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