Track and field meets are busy ordeals for Bailey Woodbury, who competes in the heptathlon, an event composed of seven different competitions that feature every spectrum the sport has to offer.
A heptathlon starts with the 100-meter hurdles then moves to high jump, followed by shot put, the 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin throw and finshes with an 800-meter run.
“I love it,” Woodbury said. “It’s a lot of fun being able to do different things, and I feel like I get to know a lot of other people on the team.”
When Woodbury started at ISU, she figured she’d compete in the heptathlon at some point. She ran sprints and long-jumped in high school, which led her to believe that she would be a jumper at ISU.
At a team meeting near the start of the season, though, another heptathlete invited her to practice the event, and soon Woodbury was a heptathlete herself.
While she’d never tried most of the events in the heptathlon, she said they came naturally to her.
She said throws are still the toughest event, but the rest became easier with the help of her coaches.
“My coaches and my teammates are really awesome,” she said. “I love being able to compete with them.”
Four of the events – hurdles, high jump, shot put and the 200 meter – take place the first day of a meet; long jump, javelin throw and the 800 meter run take place the second day, making for long practices and meets.
Woodbury said she struggles more with the second day, since it includes a javelin throw and an 800 meter that takes place at the very end.
Since she’s competing almost nonstop, with 30-minute breaks between events, she can’t let any bad performances affect her mindset for upcoming events. And since the events run continuously, she has to get ready for the day.
“You really have to be prepared for the day,” she said. “You really don’t have time to eat … so I always like to have a good breakfast and make sure I get enough sleep.”
At meets, Woodbury usually competes in a pool of around 16 heptathletes. Sometimes that number grows, like a few weeks ago at Mt. San Antonio College, where Woodbury said there were 60 heptathletes.
“It’s less stressful, because in an open track meet where you’re trying to do 12 different things, you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off,” she said. “But in the hep, you’re going from one event to the next, so it’s a little more chill.”
The heptathlon has proved to be a good fit for Woodbury over her four years on the team.
She likes the variety of events, having participated in track, volleyball and basketball in high school.
“Running every day would make me miserable,” she said.
Woodbury has also liked the more relaxed environment of the heptathlon and the camaraderie it produces.
“There’s this thing about being a heptathlete,” she said. “You just kind of have a connection with the other people you’re competing with, because you’re like, ‘Oh, I know how it is. I’m exhausted too, but we’re going to finish this 800 together.’”