Saturday, May 9 was perfect running weather in Track Town USA (Eugene, Oregon). The Eugene Marathon series of events, which included the 5k and Kids Duck Dash on Saturday, in addition to the marathon and half-marathon on Sunday, is a wonderful celebration of running in the Eugene community. I was onsite at Hayward Field to participate in the 5k, and capture some footage of the Kids Duck Dash.
The kids race started at 8 a.m. The pint-sized participants followed a condensed route along the beautiful University of Oregon campus, and finished their race on Hayward Field! The streets were flooded with children and parents having a great time. It’s fantastic to see the younger generation getting their running shoes broken in!
At 8:30 a.m., the 5k took place. I lined up at the start line, just outside of the gates of Hayward Field, wondering if the Runnings Gods were going to let me get a new 5k personal record (PR) today. There was amble room to line up, but there were no pace markers present for participants to line up according to race pace. Granted, even with pace markers, participants don’t always oblige.
The race started roughly 2 minutes early according to my Garmin GPS. I’ll take that! For the first half a mile, there was the usual jostling for position as we journeyed out of the University of Oregon campus area and into quiet residential neighborhoods. After about 8 minutes, I was able to get into the right pace group, and get into the ‘groove’. There was a slight hill nearing the one mile mark that I was not expecting, but everyone was pushing through it well.
Shortly, we turned onto East 19th Avenue, which was leading us back to the University. Through this area, the crowds of fantastic event onlookers cheered participants on. Such amazing energy they all had! Track Town has a great cheering section!
After proceeding down Agate Street and turning onto 18th Avenue, we were passing Hayward Field and the turf field areas. You could hear the excitement from onlookers waiting for the first finishers to come through Hayward Field to the finish line. Excellent energy, yet again.
Another hill presented itself on 18th Avenue, but this one I was prepared for! Passing Pioneer Park Cemetary, I knew the remainder of course was either downhill or mostly flat. Participants headed onto Alder Street from 18th,, then a quick couple of turns to get onto Kincaid Street. After passing the ‘famous’ (it’s huge) Oregon Duck Store on Campus, we turned onto 13th Avenue for a long straight stretch through the heart of campus. The scenery was spectacular.
We had one more turn to make to get near the gates of Hayward Field and make our spectacular 5k finish. It was the last turn, onto Agate Street, that had some super enthusiastic course marshal volunteers. They let you know that it was time to give it all you had – the finish line was just moments away. Kicking it into gear so I could run as fast as I could to the finish line, I had Hayward Field in my sights.
The chute leading participants from the road into Hayward was thickly lined with an immense electricity from the energetic spectators. They provided such an incredible welcome onto the field!
Now, changing from running on the road to the unique feel of the Hayward Field Track, I was nearly sprinting into the finish line for a PR. It had to happen in Track Town USA on Hayward Field, right? Well, unfortunately not this time, but I was only about 30 seconds shy of reaching my new 5k PR record.
After crossing the finish line, participants were able to go behind Hayward Field and receive a goodie bag loaded with post-race foods, including chocolate milk, bagels, and other nice post-race refreshments. Also, the wonderful Krusteaz Pancake Feed was occuring. The pancakes were wonderful, by the way. (Shhh … I ate an extra one for all of you blog readers, too).
Once I was sufficiently filled with Krusteaz pancakes, I headed back around the stadium so I could sit in the stands of Hayward Field and cheer on fellow participants. It was fantastic seeing everyone out accomplishing their goals, and being 5k winners! I love seeing everyone cross their own finish line, and achieve their victory. Also, I was keeping my eyes peeled to see if Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton would be in my path, as they were both slated to be on site cheering on 5k participants! Unfortunately I didn’t see them, but it was great knowing they were supporting the event.
Check out the full list of results for the 5k event here (5k is listed on the bottom row).