This time of year brings the Sac-Joaquin Section track championships, and with it warmer weather to the Central Valley. In years past I have sweated along with the athletes as I photographed them competing in the meet under temperatures in the 80s or 90s. Last week the track meet came to Hughes Stadium in Sacramento as it usually does, but the weather was anything but normal.
Thursday’s preliminaries were under near normal temperatures, which felt to be in the 70s or so. The sun was out on a nearly cloudless day and proved to be very comfortable. Cloudier, windier and colder, Friday’s finals proved to be a different story.
It wasn’t too bad when the sun was out, but it jumped in and out of the passing clouds, which grew darker and more ominous as the day wore on. The field athletes had it better with their events running earlier in the afternoon. Just the girls long jump, boys pole vault and boys shot put ran long.
In the past with sweat trickling down my back and off my brow, I would eagerly await the the track events, which occurred in the cooler evening hours for some relief. Friday evening, the wind picked up and dark storm clouds blew in from the west. I could see rain falling from the clouds as they approached. I ran back to my car to get a light jacket hoping that I wouldn’t need it to fight off the rain. Though a few drops were felt, fortunately the clouds parted and skirted around the horseshoe-shaped stadium to both the north and south.
As soon as the sun got low enough to cast the stadium wall’s shadows onto the field, the temperature dropped even further. Spectators and athletes bundled up the best they could, though most were prepared only for a typical Valley spring day. The cooler weather was probably a boon for the long-distance runners, keeping them from overheating, but it looked tough for the others. They wore sweats to keep warm right up until the last second before their events.
The last event I had to shoot was the girls 100 meters. The thin fabric of my jacket was no longer doing its job, transferring the outside cold to my body. The race ended just about the time the sun sank below the horizon, and I high-tailed it out of there.
This week I’m scheduled to shoot the Sac-Joaquin Masters track meet, again at Hughes Stadium. Both Thursday and Friday are forecasted for more rain.