If you’ve been hearing about TrackTown USA lately, it’s for good reason. Eugene has long been an international destination for runners and fans of the sport, but there's a new energy in the air that extends from the reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon throughout Eugene and Springfield.
Eugene, Oregon, known as "TrackTown USA", is the frequent host to star-studded track events from the Olympic Trials to the NCAA Championships. Last year, Eugene even hosted the…
Experience the Magic of Hayward Field
The heart and home of track & field
The reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon has transformed its historic location into a beacon of the future. Athletes who have competed at Hayward Field all describe a similar experience — feeling the energy of the cheering crowds, connecting to the spirit of champions that have won before and feeling awe to be competing in the place where history is made. A ticket to any meet held here is sure to come with its share of unforgettable moments. According to the University of Oregon, 20 world records have been set at Hayward Field as of 2023.
Hayward Hall at the base of the tower is an exquisite shrine to the history and the many legends of this special place. Not only are there pieces of Nike shoe history, trophies, scoreboards, records and champion rings on display, but you'll also find pieces of the former green wood stadium stands have been transformed into art, bench seats and display components. There is also historic film footage and photos woven into exhibits and movie reels. Stories are told through detailed interpretative panels throughout the hall. Pause to search for your favorite track and field athlete in their digital database and visit the selfie station to put yourself in the action. Sometimes you can even see athletes training on the field through the large museum windows.
It’s All About the Shoes
Eugene, Oregon - birthplace of Nike
The Nike shoe was invented when University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman was experimenting with lightweight soles made in his wife's waffle iron. His workshop has been re-created inside Hayward Hall with an interactive exhibit set with all the tools he used to create his innovative shoes and early examples of what he crafted.
The Graduate Eugene Hotel also has a large collection of Nike shoes on display in their grand lobby. Their 1972 Nike Moon Shoes displayed in a lit case are extra special: these are one of 12 prototype pairs made by Bill Bowerman himself and worn by athlete Dave Russell, who loved them.
It's not just the first Nike running shoe that is celebrated here – the Museum of Natural and Cultural History displays the world's oldest and best-preserved shoes - ancient footwear unearthed by UO archaeologists during a 1930s dig in Oregon's high desert caves. The shoes, dubbed the "Great Basin Sandals", discovered in the Fort Rock Cave are made from sagebrush bark and are 10,000 years old (twice as old as the pyramids in Egypt).
Go For a Run
Join the legacy of TrackTown
This is TrackTown USA after all — miles of running trails, a temperate climate and a community that loves to run year-round. So lace up your shoes and enjoy a run. Here are the top trails to check out.
Any runner visiting Eugene should plan at least one easy run on Pre's Trail. Dedicated to the legendary runner shortly after his death, this four-mile bark chip trail winds along the river, through the forest and over meadows in the heart of the city. Start at the trailhead at Alton Baker Park and catch a glimpse of the University of Oregon “O” at Autzen Stadium.
Amazon Running Trails
Running trails are woven throughout the community and the bark chip Amazon North Trail of Southeast Eugene is the perfect example. Join the local elites, high school teams and residents along this flat, easy path encircling an urban green belt. The path is a popular training spot thanks to its multiple loop options. For a longer run, the trail connects to the nearby Amazon South Trail for a total of 5.5 miles through the wildlife corridor of Amazon Creek.
A trail runner’s delight, the Ridgeline Trail is twelve miles of switchbacks and leafy paths through Douglas fir forest and Oregon white oak savannas. It crests at Mount Baldy and Blanton Ridge but culminates atop Spencer Butte, the city’s highest point at 2,058 feet. Multiple parklands are connected through this trail system and are easy to access through seven trailheads.
McKenzie River Trail
If you’re looking for a quintessential Oregon trail running experience, this 26-mile trail is just a short one-hour trek from Eugene - Springfield and worth the trip. You’ll wind along a wild river with thundering waterfalls and through old-growth forests. McKenzie River Trail also passes through lava fields on smooth paths near Clear Lake.
Check Out Classic Eugene
Without a doubt, track and field are at the heart of Eugene’s unique culture, but while you're here, explore signature experiences that Eugenians treasure. Blend in with a rainbow tie-dye shirt at Saturday Market. Eugene is a place of passion, innovation and craftsmanship. The people here are comfortable exploring new ideas, expressing themselves creatively and caring for each other.
The tech community also thrives here and has made some pretty big splashes from electric cars to digital identification. Co-working spaces and innovative start-ups are all over town. Join free-thinkers at local craft breweries and amazing farm-to-table restaurants in the eclectic Whiteaker neighborhood or at one of the cafes on Main Street in downtown Springfield. And while you are in Springfield (Eugene’s sister city), note the murals — my favorites include one of author and former Springfield resident Ken Kesey and one of "The Simpsons" television show, since this is the real Springfield.
And speaking of murals: the City of Eugene, in honor of all our international guests who came for the World Athletics Championships in 2022, commissioned street artists from around the world to create masterful murals known as the 20X21EUG mural project. Take a tour of the murals alongside the community’s public art scene. And just like the paintings popping up all over town, we’ve had thousands of sequoias trees planted too — as a carbon offset for the event because Eugene is also fiercely committed to sustainability.
And as most locals have done at one time or another, end the evening or the week with a big slice of pizza from TrackTown Pizza.
Get In With the Running Crowd
For the latest news on everything from treads to training, drop by a local running store. For runners, this is the equivalent of pulling up a seat at the local pub (and in fact, some running groups meet at stores and end at pubs). Named one of the “Top Running Stores in America” in 2019, Run Hub Northwest has gained big fans locally with its commitment to the community. Weekly easy group runs, a monthly destination trail run and other fun events get runners of all levels together to enjoy the sport. Both Run Hub and Eugene Running Company are popular with the local running community and have knowledgeable staff that will fit you with the proper shoes, tell you about the latest technology, advise you on common running ailments or share their favorite places to run. What better way to make new friends than sharing strides and stories?
Pay Tribute at Pre's Rock
Track fans come from all over to remember Steve Prefontaine as well as to feel a sense of community with others who were inspired by his grit. Prefontaine (known as “Pre”) won seven NCAA titles for the University of Oregon in the 1970s, breaking multiple records and fueling the rise in popularity of track and field. The Coos Bay native and Eugene resident held every American record from the two-mile to the 10,000 meters when he died tragically at the age of 24. The memorial rock placed at the spot where his car crashed is often covered with shoes, bib numbers and notes left by fans.