Wow! So, a lot of people who know me, know that I am a critic when it comes to a lot of races. It takes a lot to make me pleased with an event, especially with the amount of races there are to choose from nowadays. Coming into the Eugene Marathon, I honestly didn’t know what to think. It’s my (now) hometown race, and it’s Track Town USA, so I have exceptionally high expectations for this event. When I found out the Eugene Marathon was switching from their usual end of April, beginning of May date to the end of July, I was fuming. Seriously? Changing this race to the hottest time of the year for us? Sigh. Also, the change was due to the IAFF World Junior Championships – which is awesome – but I was worried about the city being able to handle all the influx of visitors for two big events. It just seemed like a whole lot could go wrong, and I didn’t want to see Eugene go down in flames. With all this swimming in my mind, for months prior to the event, I was relieved when packet pick-up day finally arrived. I work downtown, so I was able to catch the EMX (bus rapid transit here in Eugene/Springfield) and get to the University of Oregon, Matthew Knight Arena really quickly without any traffic hassle. I arrived right when the doors opened, at 1 p.m., and was able to locate my bib number on a huge wall showcasing everyone who was signed up to run. Then, off to get the packet/bib. I had to ask for directions a couple of times during the expo process, as Matthew Knight Arena is huge and the packet pick-up was very spread out. I honestly think people could have gotten 10,000 steps in on their FitBit (or other device) just going through the pick-up process. The expo itself was set up on the arena floor, and had a lot of really excellent vendors. Sage Canaday (my ultra running idol) was even representing the Hoka One One booth, and Lauren Fleshman was at the Picky Bars booth. I was very impressed at the athletes that were present. (I was super bummed, I missed meeting Sage by an hour due to my work schedule). Big thumbs up for the expo in general, even though it was a little confusing getting around to all the stations needed to find your bib number, pick up the packet, get to the expo, then pick up your event tech-shirt.
Now. Race day is upon us. The race took place on Sunday, July 27. Yes, it was warm at the 6 a.m. start. But, it was really heating up when I crossed the finish line shortly after 8 a.m. for the half marathon. The race started outside of the gates to Hayward Field, which has a lot of meaning to most runners. The energy at the start line was thick with positive vibes. This year, I was so pleased to find an excellent corral system for runners to line up. The corrals were large enough that everyone had room to breath, too. Thank you for that, Eugene Marathon! I was in corral “C” (I believe corral “G” was the last group), and we didn’t have to wait long to get our race started!
The Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon course winds through the south east hills neighborhoods. Police and volunteers did an amazing job with traffic control (thank you Eugene Police and all the volunteers!). At about mile 8, we passed the aid station by South Eugene High School, at which point we were running back past the University of Oregon and Hayward Field. The course is super cool with this; starting outside of Hayward Field, passing past Hayward in the middle of the race, then crossing the finish line inside Hayward Field. Who gets to do that?! Well, if you run in this race, you do.
Here’s a general run down, without going into the play-by-play of every second I was pounding the pavement. Pros: On time start with fantastic corrals and spacing of runners. Excellent traffic control and amazing volunteers. Lots of fully stocked aid stations – you never needed anything on this course, it was fully supported. Excellent course showcasing Eugene well. Lots of music on the course (mostly from very nice people watching the race!) as well as lots of enthusiastic spectators. Awesome volunteers. Incredible event tech shirt. Amazing finisher medal. Crossing the finish line in Hayward Field – FANTASTIC. After race food was provided in a re-usuable bag and included everything you could want or need (I loved this concept, by the way). Free pancakes. Super easy to find family at the finish line post race area. Then — another amazing thing — being able to go sit in the stands at Hayward Field and watch fellows racers cross the finish line! Cons: Not a fan of the end of July date due to the temperatures. Generally disorganized packet pick up, but it was still excellent overall.
The Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon is really an excellent event. I know a lot of people are in shock that I am speaking so highly of it, as I have always been hard on this race. Well, trust me, if there were things I could nit-pick, I would have. But, listed above in my cons, those are the only two things I would ding. And they are so minor that it is silly.
Eugene Marathon — excellent job. I really have to applaud you! And, I’ll be back in 2015 to participate! Kudos, Kudos, Kudos! (More photos below!)