This spring I set a goal to PR at the Eugene Marathon, but when an injury derailed my plans to run, I didn’t want to miss this event entirely. Fortunately, this race is as fun to watch as it (presumably) is to run, and I absolutely loved being a spectator in TrackTown USA.
The Eugene Marathon gets a lot of well-deserved credit for positive crowd support, and I saw first-hand this comes from planning a route that makes cheering so accessible. Before I even arrived in Eugene, I had all the information I needed thanks to the online Spectator Guide. The organizers provided maps, parking advice, and multiple options to track runners.
I was in good company following this advice because everywhere I went, there were plenty of other spectators with cowbells or clever signs. Due to the convenient layout, I was able to cheer at several places along the course. I started by parking near mile 4 and then walked a few blocks to catch the runners again near mile 10. From here I drove to the Valley River Center to cheer near mile 19 (while having the advantage of easy parking, public restrooms, and a mall full of food options). After this, it was just a short drive to the University of Oregon campus
As much as I enjoyed the entire race, the true highlight was watching the finish at Autzen Stadium. Spectators have a picture perfect view from the seats above the fifty-yard line. At most races, the finish line of is fenced off from the general public. While this is understandable from a safety and security perspective, seeing my friends cross the finish line was such a joy. Not only that, the finish was more streamlined and less stressful than any race I can recall. After finishing the race, runners are corralled across the field and around the stadium to meet their loved ones in the reunion area. I had clear sightlines to watch my friends cross the finish line, we easily connected after the fact, and I had an easy place to sit and enjoy the event while I waited.
The Eugene Marathon was impeccably organized, and everyone from runners to volunteers to spectators had a positive experience. If the stars ever align, I’d love to run this race in the future, but if the fates or my body don’t cooperate, I know I’ll have a blast cheering for this race for years to come.