Promptly at 8:30 a.m., the 5K started. It took about a mile for the participants to “thin out”, so I wasn’t able to get into my groove for a bit, but that is to be expected at races. The course was filled with very enthusiastic volunteers, course marshals, and cheering spectators! It was awesome seeing so many out supporting the 5K! With this amount of excitement and energy, I was expecting pure ‘craziness’ for the marathon and half on Sunday. The streets would be FILLED with cheering fans!
The 5K course was also gorgeous. Participants were challenged with two hills (awesome!) and a tour through some of Eugene’s oldest neighborhoods and through the University of Oregon campus. And the best part? You got it! The 5K also finished on historic Hayward Field! And the finisher medal for the 5K was simply incredible!
Sunday, the marathon and half marathon began at 7 a.m. Thankfully it was an early start, as the heat came in pretty quick. The forecast, also sunny and gorgeous like Saturday, proved to reach the low to mid 80’s early in the afternoon. Once it hits 55+ degrees, I back down the pace and pay closer attention to hydrating and fueling.
I began in corral “C”. It looked as though corrals were from A to E (maybe more, but I didn’t get a glimpse). We took to the streets at approximately 7:04 a.m. It was excellent that the corral’s were set-up, as the first 3 miles were pretty cramped with participants just in this corral. Again, it is generally to be expected in any race. The streets were overflowing with energy – the volunteers, ‘fans’, and every the heroes in blue – the Eugene Police Department.
Aid stations were spaced quite well, and again – super amazing volunteers. Gatorade and water was available, and porta-potties were spread nicely along the course, sometimes not even at aid stations, which was excellent and very much appreciated!
The half marathon course, as was the 5K, is beautiful and shows off some of Eugene’s lovely neighborhoods, multi-use paths, the University of Oregon area, and along the Willamette River through Alton Baker Park. So many street musicians were out playing lovely music for us, and it was super appreciated! Music can make those miles click away. The marathon and half marathon split around mile 10, after crossing over a foot bridge that presented stunning views of the Eugene area, and the Willamette River.
After reaching this point, we were officially in Alton Baker Park, which is an outstanding, *huge* park in Eugene filled with paved and mulched paths. Pre’s Trail is here, too, and we were able to run on the pavement by Pre’s Trail – a great ‘historic’ moment for those Pre Fans that we love! Through these last 3.1 miles, you can feel the heat picking up, and I noticed quite a few participants who were ‘passed out’ or ‘taking a break’ on the side of the course. The sound of sirens from emergency personnel coming to their aid was loud, and I immediately began saying my prayers to all my running friends (that is all of you!) that folks would be smart, slow it down a little, and take full advantage of the last aid station around the 11.5 mile mark.
After crossing over another foot bridge over the Willamette River, it was the home stretch! The energy for the final mile was out of this world! It was awesome! Shortly after crossing Agate Street, the 13 mile mark was swaying prestigiously in the breeze. Hayward Field, the finish line, was in sight! People were on the street 3 and 4 deep cheering and cheering and cheering participants home along the final stretch.
Of course, running on Hayward Field is epic. Having been blessed to run on it a number of times in past Eugene Marathon events, it wasn’t new to me. However, watching everyone who, for the first or second time, were experiencing the Hayward Field finish, I was so happy for them! Hayward Field grandstands were open for anyone to come in and cheer on participants, so the roar of the crowd was load and electrifying!
The wonderful folks at Eclectic Edge Racing were providing the announcing at the finish line. It was so awesome hearing everyone’s name being announced as they crossed the finish line! Gorgeous finisher medals were draped around our neck, and off to the post-race refreshment and after-party just behind the grandstands.
As was identical with the 5K post-race, participants received chocolate milk (yay! thank you!), a reusable water bottle filled with cold water, and a reusable Eugene Marathon bag filled with healthy post-race food. You could then get in line for the famous pancakes for participants (or available to the public for a small donation). A stage was set-up with live music playing, a beer garden and coffee stand available, post-race massages and medical aid, and a covered stretching area was available.
I throughly enjoyed experiencing the entire Eugene Marathon weekend of events. Both the 5K and half marathon are events I will continue to add to my race calendar year after year. If you are just getting into running, or love the 5K distance as much as I do, I encourage you to attend the 5K next year – not only for the incredible Hayward Field finish, but to feel the energy of the Eugene Marathon weekend.