How the Nike peeps managed to squeeze all these activities into the entire trip in which, mind you, we were jet-lagged and racing for two out of the six days, I don’t know. But, let me tell you that I’m sure glad we maximized our trip and experienced Nike and its birthplace, Oregon, to the fullest. Here’s what we did on Wednesday, the day we arrived in Portland…
MEETING NIKE PEOPLE
There were 24 of us registered by Nike for the Hood to Coast Relay. We made up 2 teams of 12 runners each. My team was the Singapore Chili Crabs, while the other team was Singapore Noodles. Needless to say, majority of the runners were Singaporeans while there were 4 Filipinos, 1 Malaysian, and 1 Australian. All were Nike employees except for myself, Rashid (winner of Nike+ Challenge, Malaysia), and Jeannette, writer and two-time winner of Singapore Sundown Marathon 84km.
My newfound Nike friends lived and breathed the Nike culture: young, dynamic, driven, fun-loving, and adventurous. It was easy to see that they loved working for Nike and with each other. It felt like I was among a group of college friends who happened to just work and run together.
NIKE CAMPUS TOUR & RUN
Nike was founded in Oregon by University of Oregon runner Phil Knight and his coach, Bill Bowerman. It was a company that was inspired by running.
It was just perfect then that the first stop on our itinerary was the Nike Campus, the world headquarters of Nike Inc., where all the great ideas for Nike apparel and shoes are born. Entering the campus was surreal. Dressed in full running gear, we dropped our bags at the impressive Lance Armstrong Building, which housed the employee gym, indoor rock climbing area, lap pool and jacuzzi, before we set out for a short group run.
We ran 3k around the unbelievably beautiful trail course lined with wood chips (felt like I was running on clouds!) and pine cones along the perimeter of the entire campus.
We crossed pedestrian bridges overlooking the highway, ran under heavily shaded areas, and trotted along the track oval (yes, they have one too!) while hamming it up for the camera along the way.
Our hospitable Nike Singapore hosts toured us around the campus where we visited other buildings named after world-renowned athletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and John McEnroe, to name a few. As a runner, my heart skipped a beat when I passed by the Joan Benoit Samuleson Center, the Steve Prefontaine Hall, which much to my dismay was locked, and even the Kik spinning room, named after Kristin Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance and contributor for Runner’s World.
I was hoping I’d bump into Nike athlete and my running idol, Kara Goucher, and her coach Alberto Salazar, but the closest I got to them both was to have my photo taken near an illustration of her on their run clinic truck and get up close to a shoe signed by Salazar. Pathetic!
After a quick shower at the gym (which is up to par with big gym facilities here in Manila), we headed for the Nike employee store where I purchased all the necessary equipment for the race that weren’t available in Manila: running gloves, beanie, long sleeves, and rain jacket. After those were ticked off the list, I went for another round of shopping and just went berserk.
Aaah, the life of a Nike employee. For a split second, I thought I’d surreptitiously drop by the HR department and leave my resume there…
NEXT: Hood to Coast: Thursday