Some finished in a sprint. Others struggled to pick up their legs. Some finished smiling and others grimaced, but as each runner entered the track for their final kick in the Eugene Marathon at Hayward Field they were greeted by loud cheers, cowbells, and a booming voice from the speakers that announced their approach towards the finish line.
The 6th Annual Eugene Marathon drew 6,063 runners for the full and half-marathon on Sunday morning. The race began at 7:00 am and participants continued to cross the finish into the afternoon, with an official cut-off time of 2:00 pm. The fastest runner in the race, Michael Wisniewski of Corvallis, completed the marathon with a time of 2:20:41. The women’s champion, Allison Howard of San Francisco, came in at 2:53:07.
Participants followed the course from Hayward and travelled South, past Amazon Park. They looped back around and full marathoners headed towards Springfield while half marathoners looped through Alton Baker park to return to the finish. Full marathoners took a five-mile detour through Springfield and ran back alongside the Willamette River towards River Road. They made a bridge crossing, and returned to Agate where they finished the last stretch on Hayward Field.
“That was the first time I’ve ever actually been on Hayward,” said Diana Chen, a University of Oregon sophomore competing in the half-marathon. As Chen completed her race she said she was thinking of the legendary athletes, like Steve Prefontaine, who had run on the track before her. “It was cool to be running on the same ground they have run on,” she said.
Chen completed her second half-marathon with a personal record of 2:30, six minutes faster than her previous race. Many participants said it was a day of accomplishments and personal records.
Jason Nolin, a runner from Portland, completed his first full marathon. “I felt really good. I paced myself better than expected,” he said. However, he said he is not ready to run another marathon just yet. “This marathon was just to prove that I could do it and that means I don’t have to run anymore.”
Other runners, like Brittney Evans, plan to do the run again. Evans completed her first half-marathon with very little training. After a difficult race, she is still ready to do it again. “I’m going to train for it for next time and not just go out and wing it,” she said.
Many participants ran in groups. Some sported matching t-shirts. One couple, Lark and Betty Weidenhaft ran and walked the half-marathon together. They set a personal record of 3:01:34. This is Betty’s third half-marathon and Lark’s second. “We’re competitive. We like to finish what we start,” Betty said.
“[If] we see somebody in front of us, we want to get around them,” Lark added.
While running with a friend was a common way for the runners to keep themselves motivated, they also said they relied on the voices of the spectators for inspiration. Chen said, “[The crowd’s cheers are] crucial when I’m running in races… it’s a spirit and mood booster. It’s a really good motivator to keep on going.”
As each runner entered the track of Hayward Field, the crowd erupted into words of encouragement. Family members held signs like “Kwit never Quits!” Yells of “You can do it!” and “smile!” carried across the track. Once they had crossed the finish line, participants gathered on the recreational fields to check their official times, rest, and eat. Bands entertained the crowds and there were several booths handing out healthy snacks, like Clif Bar and Wild Squirrel Nut Butter.
“It’s definitely my favorite race so far… I like the course… It was a beautiful day… in my mind it was the perfect race,” Chen said
Runners enter Hayward field for their final kick at the 6th annual Eugene Marathon.