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Race Recap: Pacific Northwest Marathon 5/28/16 (Eugene, Ore.)

The weather, and the day in general, was pure perfection for the 2nd annual Pacific Northwest Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K events, which took place Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. I participated in this event last year, during its inaugural year, and was jazzed to experience it again this year.

I attended the pre-race packet pick-up on Friday, and changed from the marathon distance to the half marathon. I’ve been battling some running injuries, which is new to me (I was blessed with being injury free for … like forever), and felt it was the wise thing to do. Let’s just say I am glad I did.

Arriving about 40 minutes prior to the 7 a.m. start time, parking and pre-race logistics were easy and effortless. The marathon and half marathon started and finished at Crescent Village, which is a high-end, planned community with apartments/condos, shops, and dining. For those choosing the 5K distance, their race started at 9:30 a.m., and were shuttled from Crescent Village to the start line at Armitage Park.

The marathon and half marathon started promptly at 7 a.m. (thank you race director for the on-time start! It’s rare these days). As it was pretty chilly at this time in the morning, a lot of us were even more happy for the on-time start – it meant we got to start running and get warm again!

Both courses were an out-and-back. I am a fan of out-and-back races, as they allow participants the unique opportunity to cheer on other runners (both faster and slower) along the way. Also, there is an advantage to knowing where you are on the ‘back’ portion of the course; knowing when you can really pick up the pace because you know what is coming up.

I quickly found myself running with the 4:25 marathon pace group. I have to say, this pace group was the bestEVER. Two of the participants were completing their very first marathon, and had some incredible hurdles in their lives that they were very successfully jumping over. As I want to, hopefully soon, become a pacer, it was excellent to be in this superb group and learn from the pacer.

This course is stunning and unique, something that is hard to come by in the Eugene racing scene. Winding through beautiful, established neighborhoods in northeast Eugene, the streets were quiet, and the residents were amazing. There was one area where a ‘pop-up’ aid station was running purely by the residents in the neighborhood welcoming participants. We also ran along quiet, ‘back-country’ streets for short stretches at a time. A tour through Armitage Park along the gorgeous McKenzie River was another beautiful highlight. At the turn around point for the half marathoners, the marathon runners continued along to get to the multi-use paths through Alton Baker Park along the Willamette River. In the park is where the marathoners turn around to proceed back to the start/finish at Crescent Village.

Every single turn that needed to be made during the course had a volunteer stationed at it. Also, police and certified flaggers were along intersection points directing traffic. Aid stations were abundant, and porta-potties were easy to come by.

Coming into the finish line chute at Crescent Village, the energy at the finish line was outstanding! This is an exceptional venue for this event. After crossing the finish line, marathon and half marathoner participants received a gorgeous finisher medal. Post-race food included burritos, vegetable trays, bananas and strawberries, water and Gatorade, and a sheltered area to sit and refuel. A coffee cart and a food cart were on site as well, which turned out to be awesome for me as I was able to purchase a post-race chocolate milk – the best recovery drink ever.

Massage therapists were onsite as well, and live music was being performed by an exceptional musician. I stuck around after the race for about 1 hour to absorb the amazing energy, and cheer on fellow participants. There was ample room to line the finisher chute and cheer participants in. It was especially fun when all three races were on the course – cheering in marathon finisher, half marathoners and 5K participants was so great!

Needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Pacific Northwest Marathon series of events. I can’t wait for registration to open for the 2017 calendar year, as I will be hopefully first in line to secure my spot! This race is filled with enthusiastic, professional volunteers, is run with skilled precision, and is friendly, fun, an an excellent event for everyone – novice, elite, and everything in between. I am so thankful I was able to participate in this event!

 

 

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