Race Recap: Pacific Northwest Half Marathon 5/2/2015 (Eugene, Oregon)

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k occurred on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Eugene, Oregon.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k occurred on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Eugene, Oregon.

Saturday, May 2 was a gorgeous day for the inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half Marathon and 5k events, which took place in Eugene, Oregon.

I have a soft spot for inaugural events. I love racing, and I love choices of which races I want to participate in. Remember, even just a couple of years ago, when races were few and far between? I would race ‘just to race’ because there were not a lot of options, and I just had to get a race in! So, whatever race was coming up, whether I wanted to do it or not, I would sign up for that event just so I could get a race logged. Now, with more events popping up, I have choices. CHOICES!

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k finish line, held at Crescent Village in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k finish line, held at Crescent Village in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

Now that I can be picky and choose from multiple events that occur on the weekends, I was excited to see the Pacific Northwest Marathon join the race scene. The race started and finished at Crescent Village in Eugene, which is a breath of fresh air having a race take participants through different areas of town, besides the usual two: Alton Baker Park or the University of Oregon campus.

About a month prior to the race, Race Director, David Cragun, sent e-mails to race participants giving us vital race day information. You could tell David was passionate about this event. Shortly before the date of the race, David even had to do some course adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances. I appreciate when a race director is open, and communicates, with their participants. At the end of this recap, I’ll share a snippet of a post that was placed on the Pacific Northwest Marathon Facebook page after the event, it was very touching.

So … how did the inaugural Pacific Northwest Half Marathon event go? I’ll tell ya. It went super-well. Packet pick-up was offered Friday at Sports Authority. I arrived to pick-up my packet about 5:30 p.m., and there were about 4 other racers there to collect their packets. The line moved efficiently, and the volunteers (one was my neighbor!) were very friendly and helpful.

Race morning, I was nervous about parking at Crescent Village, but thankfully, this was not an issue. There was an open field that was available for over-flow parking, so it was super quick and easy. Oh, and there were TONS of porta-potties available right by the parking area. The start/finish line was at the center of Crescent Village, and the runners stayed pretty quiet before the race began, as Crescent Village is a mixed-use area which includes businesses on the bottom levels and luxury apartments on the top levels. I was wondering if race organizers would have music blaring early in the morning or not, and am pleased to say they did not, and were respecting the neighbors quietness as best as possible.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k, held at Crescent Village in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k, held at Crescent Village in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

Marathoners and half-marathoners started at the same time. We started just a couple minutes past the 7 a.m. advertised start. There was not a formal corral system to line-up according to race pace, but participants did a good job lining up appropriately.

The revised course, which was definitely for the better in my opinion (the original course had the half-marathoners being shuttled from the finish line to their start line; I am not a fan of this), took runners through quiet, beautiful neighborhoods in Eugene. We followed along some quiet, fairly rural main streets, and I always felt safe running on the side of the road. Running through Armitage Park was really nice; the McKenzie River Half Marathon finished at Armitage Park, and I really wanted to explore more of the area at some point — well, I got the (almost) full tour of the Park, and it is beautiful.

After a short excursion on some busy streets (again, I felt safe running on the side of the road), we buzzed into some neighborhoods that I have never explored in Eugene. That is one huge plus of the Pacific Northwest Half Marathon course, is that nearly 100% of the course was new to me, and hasn’t been used on a previous race (that I am aware of) in Eugene. Hooray for a new, unique course!

At mile 6.55, half-marathons turned around to proceed the same route back to the finish line. Marathon runners continued on and had a different turn around point. The out-and-back course set-up was excellent; I knew where the aid stations would be, and I knew all the spots that the vast amount of incredible volunteers were at! I looked forward to getting to see them again on my loop back to the finish line. Also, randomly, but good for me, we ran past Bloomer’s Nursery near Armitage Park on the course. I’ve always wondered where the nursery was located. So, the next day, I went back to Bloomer’s and bought my perfect blue spruce tree that I just adore.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k. Crescent Village, in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

The Inaugural Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5k. Crescent Village, in Eugene, Oregon on May 2, 2015.

Crossing the finish line was awesome – residents of Crescent Village were applauding and encouraging everyone across the finish line. Once crossing the finish line, I was handed my beautiful finisher medal, and had a bottle of water in my hand. The post-race food was the traditional post-race spread (bagels, peanut-butter, bananas …). There was a cozy expo set-up with a massage therapist and physical therapist. None of the marathoners had come across the finish line before/after I finished. I ended up heading out about 2 hours and 30 minutes (approximately) into the race, and still no marathoner finishers. From reading the Facebook posts on the Pacific Northwest Marathon site, it seems like the finish line party really started when the marathoners were crossing the line. And, the energy at the finish line remained strong from the time the first finisher cross, until the last finisher cross. Gotta love that! 

will be back next year to participate in the Pacific Northwest Half Marathon (or maybe even the marathon!). 

There were five exceptional aspects of the inaugural Pacific Northwest half-marathon:
1. Fantastic, new course that showed me areas of Eugene I have never seen;
2. Excellent event tech shirt (you could choose from grey or BRIGHT pink!!);
3. The best volunteers, both as course marshals and aid station attendants;
4. Well stocked aid stations; and
5. Super nice finisher medal.

As promised, here is the post after the race from director David Cragun – it is very moving and touching:

“My reflections on this race (the longest Facebook post you will ever read…please do)

It’s hard to believe 11 months of work have just culminated in one event. It was hard, and it was stressful. There were times I did not know if I would make it, meaning I began to fear I might fail and let all of you down. You might have experienced this feeling before. It is much like what you feel in mile 19 or 20 of your first marathon, mile 11 of your first half, or mile .01 of your first 5K. “Can I really do this? Was I crazy to try?”

In those moments, I would do two things. First, I would pray. There is a power greater than our own, and it can bring us victorious through greater challenges than we can face on our own. Second, I would call my friends. What amazing friends I have who have stood by me and worked by me. Among them, there is another race director, Hyrum Oaks. Please go on the Utah Valley Marathon Facebook page and write a little note of thanks to Hyrum because without him, the Pacific Northwest Marathon would not have happened. Whether I needed advice or a pep talk, he was always ready to take my call.

The most important friend who has supported me is my wonderful wife, Jenni. You might have met her on race day, running the half marathon, spreading cheer to everybody. That was her first half marathon, by the way, and she did it with no sleep and no breakfast, because she was up working on the packets and came over early to get things started in the morning.

There are other friends who should be recognized. Marianne and Brian Walker have been with me from the very beginning, helping create our beautiful logo, our medal, our shirts, our videos, our printed materials, our photos, etc. Tom Hall joined the cause right away, agreeing to help with our website. In fact, he did much more than that, pulling an all-nighter with me on Friday to set up and mark the course, and then sticking around to help manage it afterward. There were two others who did the same: Ryan Meacham and John Gambee.

Another friend deserves as much credit as anybody for the success of this event. Carleen McKillop not only encouraged me to do this, but she got her friends involved by inviting them to run the race. She put together a whole team of runners, and then she signed up herself for her first marathon. The last few days before the event, she was working hard to round up volunteers and get them organized.

Jeff Robinson is one of those friends who will step in and make wonderful things happen wherever he goes. That is what he did at our finish line. He wanted to run the half marathon (also his first), but when I called and told him I could not complete this event without more help, he said “I’ll go where you want me to go,” and he did. If you enjoyed the atmosphere at our finish line, then you should thank Jeff, our announcer. Dave Roderick and Andrea Moncur were also there, making sure you got the treatment you deserved when you finished.

Yes, there were some obvious difficulties on race day. These were things that happened because I was trying to do 2 months of work in 2 weeks, and some of the details only came together at the very last minute! I knew all of the issues before most of you did because I was out driving and running around trying to solve them. I am truly sorry some of you had to experience those issues that I did not get to in time. Next year, I will know what to expect, and things will go much better.

I have learned that the Pacific Northwest Marathon does not belong to me. It is not all about me or all about any one of us. It is about each of us helping another to reach his/her goals. When the early start happened at 6:00, I was there watching as you embarked on a journey. At the same time, I was reaching the climax of my journey.

I missed the 7:00 start, because I was out working on the course, and I did not make it back to the finish line until almost 9am. If you finished before that, then I missed the climax of your journey. I wish I could have seen you finish and known what you were experiencing. When I did finally approach the finish line, it was electrifying! I saw a crowd gathered, felt the pulse of excitement and the fire of a common goal. Thank you for caring about each other enough to stick around and cheer. I know it made a difference for people, especially those who finished later in the day.

Over the past several months, I have been able to talk with many of you about your fitness goals. This week, I saw you accomplish those goals. Natalie, Josh and Caleb Rassmussen, Stephanie Wogoman, Shawn Wells, and many others: congratulations on achieving your goals. You had some difficulties, but you pressed forward! I know it’s true that some had goals they did not achieve this time…this time. Don’t give up, you will achieve everything you desire and work for if you never give up. Also, I hope you see that by coming here, you helped others achieve their goals, and that is just as grand, if not even more.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Your Race Director, David Cragun.”


%d bloggers like this: