More than 2,000 of the world’s best pole vaulters were in town this weekend.

Reno has hosted the National Pole Vault Summit for 23 years. The athletes headed home Sunday, but taking their equipment with them wasn’t an easy task.

“Most people, we walk into the airport and they have no idea what we’re carrying around with us,” says Madison Heath, a pole vaulter from Louisiana.

Dozens of bags carrying hundreds of pole vault poles were at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.  And, no surprise, it can be a pain to fly with them.

“You have to deal with them, you have to check them in,” says Greg Duplantis, a parent of a pole vaulter. “You have to take care of them.”

Right around 100 bags flying all over the world, each one carrying up to 20 poles. The poles are all between 12 and 18 feet long, making things pretty tricky for the airlines. Some of them don’t even fit on the airplanes.

“Those little jets, those little commuter planes, can’t get the poles on,” says Duplantis. “So, you have to have a pretty big jet.”

The airport has a system in place to make things run as smoothly as possible though.

“Welcoming the pole vault summit through the airport requires a lot of coordination between the airport, the airlines and the TSA,” says airport spokesperson Heidi Jared.

Once in the terminal, each bag is tagged and screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). From there, they head straight to the airplane.

“It really takes a lot of effort, simply just to get them inside the terminal, get them tagged to the proper destination where the passenger is flying,” says Jared. “And, then get the screening and on board the aircraft.”

The pole vaulters say flying such big equipment takes some extra effort, but it’s the only option they have.

“If you get two people to pick them up, it’s not that bad,” says Heath. “It’s just a hassle to carry them back and forth, back and forth all over the airport.”


Reno Vaulter Magazine

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