Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eugene Marathon Course Preview (lots of pics)

Marketed as one of the "prettiest and flattest certified courses in the country" it is no doubt that the Eugene Marathon will be a great race to run.  This will be my first time running it (or any other marathon for that matter) but the majority of my training runs have been on one section or another of the course so I feel like I'm pretty familiar with it.  In addition, I know that Eugene loves its runners and will come out in full force to support and cheer.  This is after all "Track Town USA".

In an attempt to not have too much of a "home court advantage" I thought I'd share with you what I know about the course:

The start will be at 7am and the participants will be divided into three starting corals based on the estimated finish time they gave when registering.  Once lined up, if you look to your left you will see the University of Oregon School of Law:
and if you look to your right, you will see the famously magic and historically amazing (no, I'm not biased at all) Hayward Field:

In no time, the anticipation will be over and you'll be off and up the slight incline as you embark on the neighborhoods of South Eugene.  Chances are you'll be in the midst of many, many runners at this point and more focused on getting to a good pace than enjoying your surroundings but it is within the first mile that you will pass one of many, many parks along the way.  Slightly up Agate street from the start, on the left, is beautiful Washburn Park, home to many summer evening concerts (and lots of spring "smoke outs" during the day):
Shortly after the park, the slight incline, that you probably didn't notice, will even out before turning into a decline.  There will be a 90° right hand turn as you reach 24th street and the downhill slope will continue right past my house, where my kids will be searching the crowd for me and hopefully cheering you on at the same time.
this is last year's pic... Calvin's sign will hopefully be more "running" related this year
In just a few strides past my house and another park, you will be at the first mile marker.  There you will make another 90° right turn up Harris street were you will continue going up for 3 blocks before heading back down to Hilyard street.  From there the next 2 miles will be a virtually flat and straight (with a few little curves and one road change).  During this time the crowd support will pick up, you'll pass the first water station (just before mile 2) which is outside of Amazon Pool and Park and you'll probably be getting into your groove.  You will also pass an Albertsons grocery store on the left and if you were to look to the right at that point you would see the slight incline that is one of the few spots where the course almost overlaps:
As the route continues past Albertsons, you will make a slight left turn that will put you on to East Amazon Drive and bring you past the home of the 1st (annual?) OBC pre race pasta party dinner, Mazzi's:
Mmmm, tasty!!  But you'll want to keep running, they don't open that early anyway.
From this point, you will continue on East Amazon with houses, a school and park on your left and the beautifully maintained Amazon Running Trail on your right.  
Isn't it pretty & green?!
The elevation will stay fairly consistent until you begin to make a turn towards Center street.  Right before that happens though, keep a lookout for this cool cottage looking house on your left:
Once past the house, the road will curve to the left and begin a slight ascent as you turn to the right and head up Center street.  During this time you will reach the 4 mile marker, an aid station and another water stop.  On the elevation map, this part looks like it is pretty intense but it is really fairly gradual and not super steep.  Have a look for yourself:
 Once you summit the hill, you'll make an immediate right turn onto Martin street where you'll be running downhill:
 past another park:
and around a corner to take you to West Amazon Drive that will be a relatively downhill slope for the next mile and a half 

 and will include another water stop, great spectators and the Amazon Trail now on your right:
Shortly after passing some apartments and a laundromat/wine store/DairyMart you'll make a series of slight right turns that will bring you through a couple intersections and back to the Albertsons you passed earlier where this time you will turn left to go up the slight hill:
This will bring you to Amazon Parkway where you will run along another bark trail (yes, I am quite spoiled to live here in this running mecca) after passing by the Amazon Bus Station:
A few quick bends in the road and you will find yourself on the bike path that runs behind South Eugene High School.  Here, at about 7.5 miles you will find crowds in full force.  The first few hundred spectators to arrive at SEHS will be presented with a cowbell and they will cheer you along with a lot of noise!!  Take their energy and let it power you up the hill that you'll begin to encounter shortly after passing the high school.  At the end of the bike path, you'll come out on 19th where you will turn again to your right and head up, up, up.  Actually it really isn't THAT bad but it is a decent incline that you will notice:

 But, as all things that go up must come down, you will get the opportunity to run down the other side too:
At the bottom of 19th, you'll make a left hand turn back onto Agate street where you will retrace your steps past the start, get a glimpse of the finish, pass many cheering fans, a water stop, potassium loading (aka bananas, watch out for the peels) and the 9 mile marker.  A quick jaunt through the edge of campus will bring you to Franklin Blvd:
where you will cross the street, head into more tree cover and take another right turn as you go through some business and housing areas until you have weaved your way back around and up to Franklin Blvd where at the Dutch Bros:
you will take a left and follow Franklin Blvd for a short distance before heading down towards the river.

There will be a slight decline as you get on the bike path that will take you through a double lane tunnel and then parallel to the river until you get to the Knickerbocker bridge:
which will take you across the river for the first time and down the path towards Springfield where you will split with your half marathon buddies as you follow the river for a bit longer into Springfield.

Unfortunately I don't have a whole lot to say about the Springfield section of the marathon.  I've only run it once.  It's a little less scenic, and I've heard the crowd support isn't quite as great but between miles 11 and 15, there will be 3 water stops, an energy stop fueled with Clif Power Shots, several bands and an aid station.  After you've been running through the neighborhoods of Springfield for a bit, you'll turn onto Centennial Blvd which is wide and basically straight.  Around mile 14.5 you will pass a shopping area on the left which has a Value Village
this will let you know that in less than a mile you will go up and over I-5

 and then back into the clean and bright air of Eugene (sorry Sprinfieldians, I'm not a big fan) on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  After a short distance, you will make a turn off the big road onto Leo Harris Parkway which will bring you by PK Park

and the awe inspiring Autzen Stadium!!!

At Autzen, mile 16, you will take an immediate left and head over a little wooden bridge and towards the Ruth Bascom bike path where you will spend the next almost 10 miles of the race!  (If you click on that link it will take you to a little video of the path... pretty accurate description).  During this time, you will pass through the beautiful Alton Baker Park at mile 17 where there will be an aid station:
It is at Alton Baker park that you will also run by a large white ball that is a representation of the sun.  For the next 10 miles if you need some distraction, be on the lookout for several, to scale, planets in the solar system.  

Between miles 17 and 18, you'll be running sandwiched between the Willamette River and I-105.  Despite the interstate traffic it is a very calming place to run and since you are running with the flow of the river, let it carry you down the path until you come to Valley River Center just past the 18 mile marker.  At Valley River Center, you will come across another huge fan section where their energy and music will propel you on into the quiet & serene wetlands of Delta Ponds where if you're on the lookout you'll see plenty of wildlife.  Directly after the ponds you'll be at mile 19.5 where you will find another fueling station stocked with more Clif Shots.

Before you know it, you'll be passing mile 20 (with no apparent wall) and going past Marist High School where the high school marching band will propel you under then over the Owosso Bridge:
where, once you cross you will take a left turn stay on the path for a bit before being dumped on Copping Street:
You'll be on Copping street only for a short while, but long enough for its residents to cheer you on, before heading back to the riverbank trail and hooking back up with the Willamette River. (Not quite mile 21.5)  Between miles 22 and 25, you'll pass through several parks, water stops, another potassium station and some fantastic cheer zones including EWEB plaza:

As you follow the river upstream, you'll continue on to pass several large open fields until you get to the Autzen Footbridge on your left (around mile 25.5).  Here there will be a huge crowd cheering you as you run under a train crossing
this picture is the wrong direction, you'll be coming under the bridge towards the guardrails
and up a slight incline to retrace your steps across Franklin Blvd and back onto campus where you will pass the 26 mile marker before turning into the fabulous Hayward Field to finish on the track where countless legends have stepped before you.
this isn't the right corner, but you'll finish right at the end of those grandstands
Make sure to look up and see yourself running on the jumbotron and bask in the glorious cheers of all the fans.  Your journey is completed and you just ran 26.2 miles in one of the greatest places to run in the world!

In addition to all that was mentioned above, there will be some type of entertainment approximately every mile of the course.  Also, each mile is dedicated to a different Eugene running legend.  Happy running!


(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Aw, the park at mile 4!
Yuck, the hill at mile 9!

Thanks for all the pictures and a great course review.

I'm ready to go now!

Elizabeth said...

Great preview Laurie. I feel like I just ran the race. We'll be thinking about you and cheering you on from Colorado. Knowing my kids - you will probably even be able to hear them at times (they are that loud)!

Tear'em up Higgins!

Emz said...

Great post!
Tons of great info!!

Must run this one day!!!!!!

Rock. It. Girl.

me/mom/NANA said...

I agree 100% with Elizabeth. Oh how I wish I could be there to cheer you on. We are so proud of you and your running. WE KNOW YOU WILL DO GREAT. Enjoy the race. It looks from the pictures like it will be beautiful. We love you.

XLMIC said...

Can I just say 26.2 is quite a stretch of pavement? That looks like a beautiful course to be running and you are going to have a fabulous run :)

That header pic you have is spectacular!

Tricia said...

it looks lovely

FruitFly said...

I'm only at the very start, but I had to comment that I, as an OSU grad, will say that you are right .... even I think Hayward Field is pretty freaking historical and I can't wait to run on it!

FruitFly said...

Okay, now I finished it all. Thanks for posting this! I am excited -- slightly nervous, but mostly really excited!!

Julie said...

Did you say wine store?
That's all I needed to hear. I know I can at least make it to that point :D

Richelle said...

Pretty course! Hope I can run it someday. Good luck to you and everyone who is running Eugene!

amy said...

Thanks for the awesome preview and sharing your home court advantage. I'm so excited!

Jody, RD said...

Thanks for the preview. If I were thinking I'd be the front runner (or even running it at all...) I'd pay close attention to your directions so I don't make any wrong turns ;)

Courtney @ I CAN DO THIS said...

Wow, that IS beautiful! I'm adding it to my wish list of races :)

Beth said...

Thank you for posting this! I will be replaying your commentary and pics over and over until I have it memorized (including the part about there being no wall). So so so so so excited!!

Also, I LOVE your son's poster from last year. So cute!

Julie D. said...

This is such a great, thorough preview of the course. I got chills at the end!! Thanks for all the work that went into it. I lived in Eugene for a couple years and it was fun to see the familiar sights on the course. I WILL be there next year!! Good luck to all of you running!! have a great time.

P said...

WOW! This course preview is simply amazing! Thank you for taking the time to post all of the info and write such a beautiful love letter to your hometown. It was never even on my list, but now I'm totally thinking of running Eugene next year!

Michelle said...

I have goosebumps now! I leave in two hours! I can hardly wait to be there. You did a great job of relaxing my anticipation. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I'm running the full and hoping for a BQ. See you there!!!

Molly said...

wow! What a fantastic course : )

RoseRunner said...

Thank you so much for this -- I'll be out there tomorrow too and am a Eugene newbie, so I have no idea what the course will look like.

I'm going to read it a few more times and memorize it!

Kris said...

Good Luck!! Have a great race!

Run with Jess said...

Thank you for the preview. Very detailed and well written - thank you!!