Tracktown USA leaves inspirational impression
It's late on Sunday night on the West Coast of the USA and I am still digesting the time I have spent here at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon.
Even though I was a Nike-sponsored athlete for 12 years of my career, and the company is a major part of this event, I never made the start line here, normally because of injury.
Since touching down here on Thursday I have felt like I have been living in a little world that sits on its own, detached from the rest of the USA.
Everyone has said with amazement, "You have never been to Pre before? I can't explain why, but you will love it".
If I am honest, I wondered what the fuss was all about as athletics isn't very big in much of the USA.
In Eugene, Oregon, though, it is huge. It is called Tracktown USA because the town knows it track and field and the athletes love competing here.
The US Olympic trials were here last year and they had, over the 10 days, 200,000 spectators. Already Eugene is booked to host every major US Championships trials until at least 2013, including the London Olympic 2012 trials.
Bring athletics to Eugene and it goes down a storm, partly because of the town's history and passion for track and field, and partly because of the man the meeting is named after, Steve Prefontaine.
Prefontaine, who was tragically killed in a car accident in his running prime aged just 24 years old in 1975, helped inspire the "running boom" in the 1970s.
Primarily a long-distance runner who once held the American record in the seven distance track events from the 2,000 to 10,000m, Prefontaine enrolled at the University of Oregon to train under coach Bill Bowerman.
Bowerman co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike, and Prefontaine became the first athlete to sign with the company in 1974.
For the 35 years since his death, they have an annual athletics meeting in Prefontaine's honour.
He is an icon in these parts, and the story that followed Wednesday's bad electrical storm, when the meet director's computer malfunctioned, showed that perfectly.
The director took the computer to the store to fix and they said it would be a week, he mentioned he needed it working ASAP as it was for the Prefontaine meeting and the older guy working there said: "For Pre, give me an hour".
The man was, as all are here, a Prefontaine fan and said he would sit most days with his friends when he was younger outside as Steve Prefontaine would do his daily run past.
They would say "Hi Pre", Prefontaine would say "Hi" back and the friends would talk about it for an hour.
Once I had delivered my live, 20-minute video presentation and done some interviews for the passionate 11,000 crowd, introducing over 30 Beijing Olympic medallists, I had the pleasure of standing on the finish line and watching a 20-event, two-hour meeting that was awesome.
The athletic performances, including Dwight Phillips jumping 8.74m for the fifth best long jump in history, were outstanding but it was as much about the vibe.
I then understood what everyone had been talking about all week.
The energy and emotion was electric. I have never in my 24 years in athletics felt anything like it, and I was part of one of the most iconic Olympic finals in history, with 112,000 people in the stadium in Sydney.
The Prefontaine family were in the stadium, as they are every year, and it was great to feel that for one day every year, a country that doesn't really do athletics, does it wonderfully.