Running – Chico runs Eugene

It’s hard to imagine that nearly a year has passed since I ran my first marathon in nearly 19 years. Since I had so much fun (to the extent that running 26.2 miles is fun), I’m heading north to Eugene, Ore. to do it all over again this coming Sunday, 2 May.

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I won’t be alone.

There must be at least 20 Chicoans bound for Eugene to run the full marathon and a smaller number doing the half marathon. Not to mention Chico spouses and friends to keep company the other thousands of participants and spectators.

I can assure you that the many breweries of Eugene will enjoy a blow-out business on Sunday afternoon.

And boy, are the hoteliers happy, because all of the hotels are sold out in the area.

The course begins and ends on the University of Oregon campus, home to some of modern American distance running’s fondest memories. This year for the first time, the race finishes on Hayward Field (steps from where the race begins) which is notable for the many great runners who ran here including Steve Prefontaine.

For those runners familiar with the history, it will be difficult to finish the race without a lump in one’s throat.

Appropriately enough, the Eugene Marathon’s slogan is “Running in the Footsteps of Legends”.

For those of you who ran the full marathon last year, there have been significant and mostly positive changes to the course for this year, besides the finish inside of Hayward Field.

The first two miles are quite different. No one will be unhappy to find last year’s uphill start eastbound on 15th Avenue has been eliminated in favor of a straight and level (to start with) shot south on Agate. To then earn back the lost mile, the course does an odd northbound, westbound, southbound 3/4 rectangle that crosses and recrosses part of the course runners will experience later in the ninth mile.

From about Mile 2 to almost Mile 11 the course is unchanged. Shortly before Mile 11 the half marathoners make a left turn from Franklin Boulevard and cross the Willamette River. In ’09 the marathoners did, too, but not so this year.

This year the marathon course continues along Franklin Boulevard further east into Springfield and then runs a huge 3/4 rectangle that brings runners back to the Willamette River at about Mile 17. From that point to the finish the course is the same as last year.

The negative part of the major course change during the middle of the race is that there will be slightly less river or park mileage in favor of more street mileage.

But the significant positive is that a clunky remixing in ’09 of marathoners and half marathoners around Mile 15 (for the full marathoners) and Mile 11 (for the halfers) followed by a confusing separation a half mile later has been eliminated. Once the full and half marathoners part ways around 10.75 miles they will not meet again until the last half-mile common to both courses. By that time, it’s no longer an issue.

So good luck to all of the runners, especially to those running either their first marathon or first half marathon. Among the first time marathoners is my partner, Keith. Over the years he’s run lots of half marathons and shorter distances but up until a very short while ago he declared himself not interested in running a marathon. One fine day he surprised me and, perhaps himself, by signing up for Fleet Feet Chico’s spring marathon training program. Now four months later, I think he’s well prepared for the 26.2 mile challenge.

Go, Keith, go!

Here are links to the posts I wrote last year before and after the ’09 Eugene Marathon.

Eugene Marathon Minus 1
Eugene Marathon – done!

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