During the 2021 Olympic Track and Field Trials, held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, we watched as the nation’s best athletes competed for spots to race at the Tokyo Games—the pinnacle for these runners. But we also some wacky, weird, and wonderful moments, reminding us that no matter how fast these athletes can run, they’re still human.

The Runner’s World editors detail a few of these moments.

Lewis Johnson goes for a dip in the steeplechase water pit

Before the first round of the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase on Sunday, June 20, NBC broadcaster Lewis Johnson was tasked with explaining exactly what the steeplechase race is. (Runners jump over 35 barriers, seven of which are over a water pit. It also started as a horse race. Read more here!) Not only did he show viewers on TV all around the barriers, he actually took his shoes and socks off and waded into the water pit to show how deep it was. Talk about dedication to his craft.

A short time later, Allyson Felix qualified for her fifth Olympic team, finishing second in the 400 meters—and when Johnson was interviewing her trackside, his shorts appeared to be dry. Did he bring an extra pair of shorts and change? Was it so hot that his shorts dried? I haven’t stopped thinking about this for over a week. — Bette Canter

Christina Clemons makes the Olympic team wearing Doritos earrings

Forget the Wheaties cereal box. Christina Clemons, who made her first Olympic team in the 100-meter hurdles during the opening weekend of the Trials, has her face on a bag of Doritos!

How did this happen? According to The Washington Post, Clemons was looking for new earrings before the meet and purchased a pair of Cool Ranch Doritos bling at a Hot Topic. We’re so thankful that eagle-eyed viewers and on-site photographers spotted the awesome earrings, helping the selection go viral and providing Clemons this unique opportunity. May I suggest for her Olympic run, she get mini earrings of her favorite high-end car? — Brian Dalek

us olympic track and field team trials
Christina Clemons and her Doritos earrings
Cortney White

New England Pride in the Women’s 1500

I’m not a “real” New Englander—I’ve lived in Maine for only 18 years, or about 200 years shy of many natives’ standards for sufficient family roots. But from the fan boy angle, close enough. So it was a treat to see Vermonter Elle Purrier St. Pierre and Heather MacLean of Massachusetts finish first and third, respectively, in the women’s 1500 final amid the usual west-of-the-Mississippi-based candidates.

The moment was made sweeter by MacLean nabbing the Olympic standard, her and Purrier St. Pierre’s modest college running achievements, and the fact that they’re New Balance Boston teammates and close friends. Or, as their coach, Mark Coogan, told Runner’s World in his best southern Massachusetts intonation, “A girl from UMass and a girl from UNH are going to the Olympics, in the mile. Top that!” — Scott Douglas

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Michelle Obama congratulates Sha’Carri Richardson

After Sha’Carri Richardson dominated the women’s 100-meter final with a winning time of 10.86, her performance and reaction afterwards (she ran into the stands to hug her grandmother right after the victory) went viral. Even former First Lady Michelle Obama took notice and tweeted a message congratulating the national champion. Obama tweeted a video clip of Richardson’s post-race interview in which the sprinter shared that her biological mother passed away before the championship. Richardson also thanked her family, especially her grandmother who witnessed Richardson become an Olympian.

“Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson,” Richardson told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “My family is my everything, my everything until the day I’m done.”

Richardson responded to the Becoming author’s tweet with a message of her own.

“I am up right now losing my mind!” Richardson wrote at 2:41 a.m. PDT on June 23. — Taylor Dutch

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Even the pros sometimes borrow gear from their significant other

She’d sketched out her race plan lap by lap and even traded out her pre-race coffee for caffeinated gum to stay cooler. But there was one minor detail Emily Sisson realized she forgot as she was stepping onto the track to dominate the women’s 10,000 meters Saturday morning: shades. Fortunately, her husband, Shane Quinn, had a pair he was willing to part with.

us olympic track and field team trials
Emily Sisson and her husband’s sunglasses.
Cortney White

“I stole them off him as we were walking into the warm-up area,” she said post-race. Those red-and-black frames—which appeared to be from goodr—made her look even more like a boss as she lapped nearly everyone en route to a new meet record and her first Olympic spot. — Cindy Kuzma

Runners warming up ... around a cemetery

Eugene Pioneer Cemetery, on the National Register of Historic Places, is also a destination for U.S. elite distance runners, warming up and cooling down for the races in Hayward Field.

The cemetery, which has a dirt trail around its perimeter that’s roughly 0.6 miles long, saw plenty of use during the Olympic Trials. Before the semifinal round of the women’s 1500, Runner’s World spotted Jenny Simpson, Dani Jones, Amanda Eccleston, Sarah Lancaster and others jogging the loop before heading one block east to the athlete entrance to the track. After the semis of the men’s 800, Bryce Hoppel went over for a cooldown.

The cemetery isn’t affiliated with the University of Oregon, but it’s adjacent to the campus, and many Duck track athletes over the years have used it for their runs. It’s an easy target for, well, gallows humor—as athletes hope warming up there doesn’t signal the death knell of their careers.

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