On 30 April, I took part in the Eugene Marathon. April 2023 has been an incredible month of running for me. In order to raise lots of money for Cancer Research, I set out to complete 26 Marathons in 2023. For me, running a marathon every 2 weeks for a whole year is not sustainable, balancing family time, work, and everything else in life. So I decided to give myself a boost in April, when I knew I would be running a few marathons anyway. How many marathons can you realistically fit into a month. Most would probably answer 4, one a week. I set out with 10 from the start, kicking April with 10 marathons in 10 days. For number 11, I headed to the States to make the most of my Boston Qualifier and ran Boston Marathon. Later that week, I was back in London for number 12 and the London Marathon. But there was one more weekend and time for 1 more marathon. I got back on a plane for the Eugene Marathon for my 13th Marathon of 2023.
I have a long-term goal of completing a marathon in every US state. It’s a very long-term goal, as coming from the UK, I am lucky to be able to come for 1 or 2 in a year. Time and money will determine how quickly I can work through the states, but I prefer being with my family, so school plays another big part of what’s possible. I therefore expect to slowly tick off a few over the next 10 years, and when the kids are older, I hope we can do more together. Eugene Marathon is my 9th different US state.
Eugene and Springfield
I had a few days in Eugene, wanting to make sure that I had time to adjust to the time difference. To be honest, this never works for me. I never tend to be able to sleep properly when I fly long haul. Eugene has a lot of history with track and running in general, and the marathon is really popular. Eugene, Oregon is known as TrackTown USA. It is the home of the legend Steve Prefontaine, and the marathon finishes on the famous track at the University of Oregons Hayward Field. The Ducks were also playing when I visited, so there was a real buzz around town.
I stayed in Springfield, which had more affordable accommodation, and is the Springfield that The Simpsons is based on. I enjoyed looking around all the murals painted on walls around Springfield, and I later found more as we ran through as part of the marathon.
On Saturday morning I ran the 5k. There was the Double Stack entry for anyone who ran the 5k on the Saturday and either the Marathon or Half Marathon.
Added benefit of the 5k. If you beat Jack or Jill, you win a years supply of pancakes. Let’s be clear, I never stood a chance, even dressed like pancakes they were quick, but a few people beat them.
The 5k was hot. Even at 09:00 it was 30 degrees. There also wasn’t a bag drop, so I ran with my rucksack. It was hot. I had a change of clothes with me as I was planning on being in Eugene all day. I wasn’t racing, so it wasn’t a big deal.
It was great finishing in the stadium on the track. I also enjoyed watching the Duck Dash for all the kids before the 5k race.
I spent a lot of time around the expo after the 5k. It wasn’t a huge expo, but there were some nice clothes and good stalls. My favourite was the beer fairy. You ran the bell, and a hand popped through a wall with a beer sample.
I was pacing the 4:05 group. As times were based on Boston Qualifier times, there were no 4 hour pacers. I was tempted by 3:55, but I wanted to be sensible, having run so many marathons in April, so I opted for the slower time. Eugene Marathon was my 133rd Marathon, and the 39th time I have paced a marathon.
I tried to get an early night, but I really struggled to sleep. I was also really concerned about not being able to get to the start, so I planned to run there in the morning as backup. Fortunately, I didn’t need to worry and was able to order an Uber without any issues.
It was still dark when I got to the start line. I knew the forecast was to be cooler, but after 30 degrees for the 5k, I was not sure how much I could trust it. But it was perfect running conditions. It was on the cold side, and we also had a mist like rain for the first 20 miles. It could not have been better conditions to run.
All the pacers met early, and then we went into the start area so that runners could come and find us easily. It didn’t take long to fill up and I had a big group of runners with me. The marathon and half marathon all started together, and the half marathon split off at around 10.5 miles, so I was able to pace a lot of half marathoners for most of their race.
It was a busy start, and it was a bit slow for the first half a mile. I reassured everyone about the pacing strategy, made some jokes and helped everyone to be as relaxed as possible running a Marathon. The course is described as a fast flat course, but I would say it is rolling and in the first half there are a number of hills. Nothing too big, and the long gradual climbs were followed by long gradual decline, so the potential for a fast run.
As expected it was a slow first mile, but I built this up gradually in the second mile, and maintained a very steady pace throughout. There were lots of first time marathon and half marathon runners, and it was great to be able to provide support to them. Lots of smiles, good chat and motivation, made it a lovely morning in Oregon.
The course started in the town, running around all the university campuses,and there was some good crowd support. We ran in a lot of remote areas, so there were fewer people, but it was a beautiful race. Eugene is in a valley surrounded by beautiful trees and forests. For the second half of the marathon, it felt like a scenic trail race, but on the road. The surroundings of a lovely trail, but a road marathon.
My group thinned out when the half marathon runners broke off, and I watched some runners pull ahead and others drop behind. However I had a good half dozen runners stay with me for the whole race, and over the last few miles I was able to pick up other runners and help them to pick up the pace and get ahead of me for the sub 4:05 finish.
My official time was 4:04:53, with really consistent and even splits. The timing mats were every 5 miles, and the markers every mile. I ran 26.4 miles according to my watch, and was averaging around 09:15 min / mile in order to keep up with the desired 09:21 min / mile pace.
It was a lot of fun running and pacing Eugene. After the race it was great to see lots of runners over the line and congratulate those who had run ahead.
The rest of my time at Eugene was filled with good food, good beer, and great company. Running is so much better with good and kind people, and that is what keeps me going back for more.
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