LONGMONT — One of the premier track meets in the region, if not the state, just got a serious face-lift.
With the help of the Boulder-based Flatirons Running Store, New Balance and local New Balance rep James Carney, the St. Vrain Invitational, scheduled for May 13 at Everly Montgomery Field, will have an entirely different feel this year.
"We've been looking around for someone to come in and support what we are doing with those elite athletes for several years," Lyons coach Mark Roberts said. "That was huge for them to ante up some money and allow us to bring some of those elite athletes."
In addition to an event that brings in nearly 50 of the state most talented teams in all classifications, for years Roberts has also been able to bring in some of the country's best sprinters.
"They are helping us expand the number of elite athletes we can bring in and supported the prize money for that," Roberts continued. "That was the place, if we didn't get someone to come in and help us, that we were going to have to scale back."
Instead Roberts is confident that if the fickle Colorado weather holds out, that the event will feature world-class athletes running at the event. He plans to have men run the 100, 200 and 400 meters as well as the 110 meter hurdles. The ladies will run the 100 and 200. And as usual, there will be pole vaulters.
It is more than an exhibition event as well. The St. Vrain Invitational is a USA Track and Field certified meet and it allows the competitors to qualify for summer events leading up to the Olympics in Rio de Janiero in August.
In years past, the event was able to land Jeremy Dotson, who ran in May in Longmont and later that summer for Team USA at the national championships.
"There is incentive for them and we feel like for our high school kids — and we have 48 teams coming this year — we want to make it an event," said Roberts, who with the help of the corporate sponsorship was able to boost the prize money for the elite athletes. "We want them to see what the future can hold."
The end goal would be for both some of the elite athletes to come back on Saturday morning and impart some of their wisdom to the high school athletes.
"And this is a spot where New Balance might be able to help us out a little more, and do some clinics," Roberts said. "Have them be accessible to any of the high school kids that want to come back and hang out, ask questions and hear stories and even rub shoulders with these people and think, this could be me."