Keeping Up With The Eugene Marathon

Nolan Hastings

The sun came and went behind the rolling white clouds as the exhausted runners lay on a turf field positioned between Hayward Field and the University of Oregon’s student recreation center.

Men screamed like girls, women grunted like boys, and over 8000 participants crossed the finish line of the Eugene Marathon

These runners were greeted with the sounds of trumpets and shouts from onlookers. Wrapped in silver capes to keep warm, the runners then enjoyed the after party festivities with their happy family and friends.

“My friend just finished the race,” said onlooker Kellie Hamlin. “I’m so proud.”

One spectator felt obligated to treat her hardworking friend to a nice lunch. “I just want to buy her a sun-dried tomato zucchini Pasta,” said Rita Powell.

Runners had the choice to race in a 5k, half marathon, or full marathon. A full marathon consists of 26.2 miles.

A kid’s marathon was also offered. To participate, the kids must have logged 25.2 miles of running prior to today’s marathon. The kids then ran the last mile today.

The full marathon took the runners on a route through south Eugene and the Amazon Park area. They then crossed over the Knickerbocker footbridge, before turning east and traveling down a canal path too Springfield.

The Springfield loop takes runners past Island Park and Springfield High School. Participants got a look at Autzen Stadium and PK Park, as they entered the last nine miles of their run along the Willamette River and six different parks.

The final stretch brings the runners down Agate St. to Hayward Field where they crossed the finish line.

Sitting outside of the finish line location sat Beam Blackwell, a sophomore at the University of Oregon. Blackwell had just finished his first full marathon. “I’m happy with how I did,” said Blackwell. “I really enjoyed it. I was shooting for four hours and I got just under that.”

To train for the event, Blackwell would meet every Sunday with a group of runners and his running teacher Joe Henderson. On alternating Sundays the group would change the distance in which they ran to slowly get their bodies use to the rigor of an event like a marathon.

“One day we would run fifteen miles, the next week we would run eight miles,” said Blackwell. “As we got farther along in our training we would increase the distance in which we ran.”

Blackwell said he was inspired by Henderson, who has completed at least one marathon in each decade of his life. Although he had a great time in his first marathon, Blackwell isn’t so sure he will compete next year.

“I may consider competing again next year. My real goal is to follow in Joe’s footsteps and finish a marathon when I’m in my twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies.”

Among the things runners like Blackwell got to enjoy after the race included a live band, free Pepsi, Cliff Bars, and other sample products that came out to support the runners.

Organizer Drew Gilges, who is a junior studying business at the university, said weeks went into planning and coordinating the event. Gilges first applied to help volunteer his freshman year as a staff marshal.

The next year he was given an internship to help out and after having another great experience came back for his third year.

Gilges said that the first thing organizers worked on was getting things set up for the runners so that they can check in the day before. “It starts with getting everything set up at the expo at the Hilton, and that’s where the runners pick up all their registration, their t-shirts, and get to [go to] all the booths from our sponsors.”

The second part of setting up consists of putting together everything at Hayward Field, which includes all the flagging, signs, and the village for the race finishers. “It’s [takes] a lot of early mornings to get everything ready to go,” said Gilges.

Even though the number of runners continues to increase with each year, Gilges believed that today the event went better than ones previous. The experience each member has contributed to the success.

Because the marathon attracts a lot of people it is important to the organizers that the elite runners get to experience a clean, well run event. It is their goal that everyone gets to enjoy their time spent running.

“Our main goal is to have an event that everyone in Eugene gets excited about and also make sure all our elite runners have fun,” Gilges said. “Those are our two main goals and I think we did both those things.”

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