necessary foreword : I’m no expert – I’ve spent barely a cumulative week in Eugene, OR, but I’ll be damned if every one of those seconds weren’t spent preening the grounds and scouting for future visits as it catapulted to the top of my “favorite places on Earth” list.
I don’t fall often, but when I do it’s fast and HARD.
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The Eugene Marathon, now in its seventh year, is a race I’m permanently penning into my calendars from now until something physically forces me from clicking “register”. Or until I have a really shitty race there. Which, having only run it once I guess is possible, but lets not think about that.
Getting To/Staying In Eugene
First, don’t poop yourself when you look up flights into Eugene airport. It’s tiny, with few airlines and flight options. Big brother PDX is just a 2 hour drive away, and you can get a rental car for the weekend for like $60 (keep in mind the cost of gas both ways and whether you’re splitting the costs with someone when weighing your options.) If you fly into EUG cabs and shuttles are ~$30/pp but if there’s more than one of you might as well split the rental costs and have some wheels. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to have a car in town (we didn’t for the Trials) but it is convenient.
the welcome committee at EUG is pretty rad and worth the propeler plane ride
There are few hotels in Eugene – check out VRBO or homeaway.com for a rental instead. Most times it’s actually cheaper AND you get a whole house instead of a stale hotel room with people on all sides of you. It’s nice to have a more homey set up for pre-race routines (and post-race celebrations) – stocked kitchen, bedrooms with doors, multiple bathrooms? Cha-ching. Oh and don’t be weirded out – most listings are solely rental or vacation units so it’s unlikely you’ll fall asleep with someone’s wedding photo staring at you from the bedside or be confronted with a used loofah in the shower.
In Town/What to Do, Drink, Eat
Want a few shakeout miles? Maybe scope out some of the course? Good idea. The path along the Willamette River (Ruth Bascom) is easy to find, not get lost on, and includes some of later miles from the race course. Visitor & navigationally-challenged-friendly.
a few months after our pre-marathon shakeout we unintentionally found ourselves on the same photo-op bridge at the Trials. Kismet.
And maybe you’ve heard of a guy named Steve Prefontaine? He’s sort of a big deal and has his own trail named after him. 4-ish? miles of woodchip awesomeness tucked just outside of campus. It was a little hard to find – there weren’t any “exit here for Pre’s trail” signs, but once you’re there you’ll know.
Garmin data from a Pre’s Trail run (google maps does list the trail if you zoom in far enough)
Eat/Drink, also duh
There are plenty of options in town – from hippie vegan cafes to Subway – you won’t go hungry or have to pack a spare suitcase with your own rations. Below are the places I’ve eaten and would recommend. And remember, if you’re renting a house the grocery store for home cooking is a great pre-race choice.
I vividly remember like 80% of the course. I guess my brain realized it was going to be a special race and afforded me a photographic recount of nearly every step. Paired with Garmin Player I was able to piece together a (hopefully helpful) play-by-play of the marathon. Elevation charts can be deceiving, and sometimes it’s good to have a general idea of what’s coming up beforehand? But if you like going in blind or being surprised go ahead and X out of this window now.
somewhat scary elev chart from eugenemarathon.com
(ignore 26.2 on – I threw my watch at a friend before finishing and didn’t stop it until we met back up afterwards.)
0-1mi : very gradual climb out of chute, quick decline after turn into neighborhoods
1-1.5mi : steep but short climb, right back down
1.5-2.5 : straighten out down Hillyard St
2.5-4.25 : gradual (barely noticeable) climb along quiet, tree-lined residential road. time to lock in!
4.25-6 : quick steep climb (~50 ft) up the turnaround, gradual descend back towards town on other side of road
6-8 : parks, schools, residential cheerleaders. easy miles and changing scenery
8-8.75 : “The Hill(s)” – .3mi +70ft, dip, turn, .3mi +50ft. HUGE cheer area including gorillas handing out bananas, Hayward in view at peak.
8.75-10 : pass by Hayward, the start, the crowds, dip under the highway and out towards the Willamette through industrial land
10-10.5 : duck into shaded tree-covered path, cross bridge over water
– HALF SPLIT – veer left along Patterson Slough (holla, Pre’s Trail), cross Autzen footbridge, back up Agate to Hayward
(FULL) 10.5-12.5 : veer right from split, through the park, hear rushing water, some peeks of river
Margot’s photo (bunny ears!)
12.5-13.1 : suddenly pop out of park into residential, left on 10th, half timing mat in front of big (school?) building
13.1-16 : boring straight shot down commercial road (w centennial/mlk jr) – groceries, shopping plazas, traffic lights, but lots of people. Ran through a water-sprayer arch thing around 15
16-17 : Autzen Stadium sighting! Off-road soft path back towards the water, surprising amount of spectators
17-20.5 : back to covered river trail – past the canal, a movie theater, al fresco hotel restaurant, retirement home… random pockets of people but mostly just quiet and serene by the water
20.5-21 : up and over Owosso bridge (ouch), lined with cheerleaders, ignore the wall fears
21-25 : few “bumps” (~20ft climbs) on windy park path. pockets of spectators. nice group of bushes for a squat break, if required… (this IS a first hand recount)
25-25.5 : path opens up to dead grass and nothing and it’s ‘WHAT IS THIS?!’ and ‘HOW THE FUCK FAR AWAY AM I??’
just keep going…
25.5-26 : the roundabout to the footbridge comes in sight, very faint stadium noises and cheers in the distance. a right turn back up into town, across the highway
26 – finish : the barriers line Agate St and people pack the entire stretch to Hayward. turn in and the final 150m are in front of packed stands on one of the most storied tracks in America. way cool if you’ve got enough energy left to realize it (I didn’t)
BEER TIME. The turf warm up area behind Hayward was perfect for recovering/laying down unable to move and reuniting with friends. PLUS they added a beer garden this year! If I go missing look for me there first.
Thus concludes this excessive and kind of creepy rehash on a race many of us will be dreaming crazy taper dreams of all week. Rest up, get excited, see ya in Eug!