Virtual races. I get it. We’re over it. It’s been a YEAR or maybe more like THREE years from the feels. We want to return to real start lines, real race day jitters and logistical “what time do I need to eat?” and “where do I park?” questions. And we are almost there!! In this crazy Covid Marathon, we can see the finish line, though we’re not really 100% sure how far away it is. Will we be tricked into another out-and-back before we get there? Will we lose our steam before then?
Until we are sure, there are still virtual races for us. Race organizers don’t want to do this either. Everyone wants our races back. But it’s what we have. And IF we have to, let’s make it good. Race companies have tried to entice runners to sign up for virtual events by giving us more swag to make it worth our while. The 2021 (Virtual) Eugene Marathon/Half Marathon came along and provided the best of the best.
Eugene, as a whole, is already a fantastic race. The course is great, the event is well organized, and the gear is always top notch. I shouldn’t be surprised that when they went virtual, they would do their best to make up for having to cancel the live event. I’m not typically all that motivated by race medals after over a decade of earning them, but this one was epic. The “Hayward Magic Medal” may not look shiny and golden, but it was manufactured to be a piece of running history, a one of a kind. It’s made from stair boards salvaged from the east grandstand of Historic Hayward Field. And how cool is that?
I registered for the race late. I pretty much waited until the last minute. But only a few days later, a super cool box arrived in the mail that looked a lot like a shoe box, but it was a little smaller. It had the Eugene Marathon branding on it and inside, I was delighted to find the following:
- Race Bib
- Nike Dri-Fit Tech Shirt
- Pom Beanie
- Water Bottle
- Hayward Magic Medal
- Finisher Dry Bag
- Drink Koozie (for your celebritory beer!)
- Roll of doggie bags (AKA something to use as your finish line tape!)
- Cowbell (because you gotta have more cowbell!)
- Krusteaz Spatula (mmm, pancakes!)
- “13.1”Sticker (or “26.2” for marathoners)
- ONE Protein Bar
- Nuun sport tablet
- Associated Vintners coupon for some wine (more celebrating!)
Eugene has done it again. They will be back next year, hopefully in full-swing and live. The future is looking brighter for in-person events, and some races area already opening now. But I certainly won’t forget the races that I got to experience in 2020 and 2021 that I maybe never would have gotten to otherwise. This will definitely be a memorable time, and I’ve got the swag to prove it.