Jason ran the 2016 Eugene Marathon on Sunday and it was incredible!
After a week of rain in the valley, the weather cleared up for the weekend. As a spectator, it was perfect, and everything looked beautiful and vibrant.
We went to the Expo on Saturday which was a little small, but decent. One cool touch was a list of everyone’s names who were running the race. There weren’t many vendors, but I did pick up a new pair of compression socks.
This was also my first time back to the University of Oregon campus in a couple of years. It was great to be on campus and see all the familiar places. I spent the better part of four years there, which makes any place have meaning. I was also surprised by the amount of changes as well, but construction always continues.
For the runners, the important landmark was historic Hayward Field, home of legendary runners. All the races that weekend would finish on the track there.
After resolving a running shoes fiasco the previous day, Jason and I got up bright and early Sunday morning. UO has very limited parking, but the race organizers were very good at handling it with lots of transportation options. From our friend’s place where we were staying, Jason walked to a designated shuttle stop and was at the start in no time.
But in the morning, shuttles were only available to runners, so I walked to the start line.
This race is small enough, compared to mega races like runDisney and Rock ‘n’ Roll, but still had a fairly significant field and had drawn some very fast runners— including Carlos Trujilo, a pro runner and former UO athlete, who earned his Olympic qualifying time that day by winning the marathon in a thrilling finish. Both Marathon and Half-Marathon runners started together, and for the first time, Jason’s finishing time placed him in C corral, about middle of the pack.
After seeing the start, I walked to a spot around mile 8, which was nearby courtesy of the looping course. I got to cheer the leaders of the race, while waiting for Jason. I had fun chatting with other spectators. Right behind the 3:45 pacers, Jason ran by.
I thought it would be easy to spot him in his bright green Star Wars Half shirt, but green was a popular color and I ended up looking for his green KT-taped knees.
After mile 8, I finally had time to get a cup of coffee and decide where I should next try to see him. I met my friends at a coffee shop and we decided to walk back to their place, grab a car, and drive to mile 18.
When we got there, I could certainly see how the last 10 miles had changed the runners. I saw limping, exhaustion and walking from many runners. But when Jason came running by, he flashed me a grin. He was passing many of these runners!
This was so exciting because he had really struggled during the Foot Traffic Flat after hitting a wall. He had been the one being passed and now he was doing the passing!
This was the last place I saw him before the finish. There was simply no way to catch him on another part of the course without missing the finish at Hayward Field! We drove back, parked the car, and once again, started walking to Hayward field. Runner tracking told me when Jason crossed the 20 mile timing mat and showed that his pace had slowed down a little but was still staying remarkably consistent. I mentally wished him luck for the last 10K.
At Hayward field, spectators filled the stands and lined the fence next to the track. By this point, it was quite warm with the sun beating down. As they came through, runners were displayed on the large video screen and the announcer called their names. It was an amazing finishing straight.
Right around 11 o’clock, Jason came through. At 26 miles in, he wasn’t smiling as much, but looked determined. He crossed the line at 3:56:47— shy of his PR at Foot Traffic Flat, but having run a better race by staying consistently strong. Even for fast runners, intervals help!
He was tired, but happy and in much better shape this time. Although it was a little warm at the end, the Eugene Marathon course was beautiful and very well organized, even for the spectators.
I had a blast watching, and ended up walking over 8 miles in the process of being a spectator. I rarely spend time watching and cheering at a race. It certainly raised my excitement level for my own upcoming race, the Tinker Bell Half, only 6 days away!
What better way to end a race than with some much deserved pancakes?