Running is a sport that defines Eugene. The city has a long-standing reputation as the "Running Capital of the World" and is even nicknamed "TrackTown, USA". In what would have been the event’s fourteenth year if not canceled due to the pandemic, the Eugene Marathon builds on the city’s running heritage and has become a treasured signature event.
Footsteps of Legends
Named the "Best Marathon for Running History Nerds" by Runner’s World magazine in 2019, Eugene’s USATF-certified marathon course pays homage to some of running’s most storied locales. The course winds through the University of Oregon campus that was once home to legends like Bill Bowerman, Bill Dellinger, Phil Knight, and Steve Prefontaine. More recent icons including Ashton Eaton, Galen Rupp, Raevyn Rogers, Phyllis Francis and Jordan Hasay also trained on the same roads. The marathon quite literally lives up to its slogan of allowing participants to Run in the Footsteps of Legends.
Beginning in 2010, the marathon finished inside the historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. However, due to construction at Hayward Field that will elevate the famous venue to one of the best track and field stadiums in the world, this year the marathon was scheduled to finish at the fifty-yard line of the football field inside Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.
Running into Success
In its inaugural year in 2007, the Eugene Marathon drew 5,000 participants and featured roughly 30 elite athletes. The event was named as one of the "Top 10 New Races" that year by Runners’ World magazine. Runner's World magazine has since named the event the "Best of the Best" race multiple times.
People continue to come from all over the country and all over the world to participate. Part of the allure is the flat and fast course that runs along the beautiful Willamette River and travels along the miles of world-class running and bicycle paths throughout the Eugene-Springfield metro area. Over the years, top finishers have qualified for the Boston Marathon and the U.S. Olympic Trials. In fact, the event is consistently ranked in the top 15 races most likely to qualify for Boston by Marathon Guide.
More than a Marathon
The event has grown to encompass more than just the 26.2-mile marathon race. It has become a weekend-long affair that also includes the Eugene Half Marathon, Eugene 5K and Kids Duck Dash. The Eugene 5K and the Kids Duck Dash are run on Saturdays and the marathon and half marathon are run on Sundays.
The half marathon is also a USATF-certified course and has become the most popular distance for participants. It’s run alongside the marathon and offers prize money for elite athletes based on gun time like the marathon.
The Eugene 5K also continues to grow in popularity. Runners are challenged to beat giant running pancakes to raise money for a selected charity. Men that beat Flap Jack and women who beat Flap Jill receive a year’s supply of Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix. For every participant that doesn’t beat Flap Jack, and most don’t, a dollar is donated to the charity.
Runners can also accept the Krusteaz Double Stack Challenge and participate in two races in two days by running in the 5K on Saturday and the half or full marathon on Sunday to get awarded an additional medal.
The Duck Dash is a 1K race for children from four to 12 years of age and now draws over a thousand kids on race day. Runners can opt to participate in the challenge of running the distance of a marathon throughout the year and finishing the final stretch on race day or just run the 1K for fun on race day.
Health and Wellness
Throughout the Eugene Marathon weekend, a Health and Wellness Expo takes place where participants, friends and family and the Eugene community come together for music, food, beverages, and exhibitors. From pancake demonstrations by event sponsor Krusteaz, to a "Run, Jump & Throw" interactive exhibit produced by the City of Eugene, there is something for everyone at the Expo.
The Eugene Marathon also partners with PeaceHealth, a nonprofit healthcare system based in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, to better foster a mindset of community health and wellness that will continue beyond the marathon weekend. “The promotion of personal and community health is ingrained in our mission. The Eugene Marathon is a keystone event based in Eugene and a catalyst for community health. That’s why it’s important that we are a part of what the marathon’s events stand for locally, regionally and nationally,” said PeaceHealth Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement Marcy Marshall.
Every year during the Eugene Marathon, participants have the option of running for the charity of their choice through the event's philanthropy program named Run for a Reason. The program provides an opportunity to advance each charitable organization’s mission through community awareness and fundraising. It raised nearly $40,000 for local and national charities in 2019.
The Eugene Marathon’s commitment to sustainability hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2008, the event was named one of the "Top 10 Greenest Events in North America" by Runners’ World magazine. In 2016, the event was awarded Gold Level certification by the Council for Responsible Sport and was awarded a second time in 2018. Also, in 2018, it was named "Sustainable Event of the Year" by the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission.
Some of the green initiatives the marathon utilizes are striving for 100% renewable energy, managing waste on-site, reusing as much old signage as possible, reducing dependence on bottled water, providing alternative transportation with bike-share programs and free shuttles, and donating all leftover race shirts, food and discarded clothes.
Looking to the Future
The Eugene Marathon will be back in 2021 with hopes of being bigger and better than ever. Runners who were registered for the 2020 Marathon, Half Marathon, Eugene 5K, and Kids Duck Dash may defer registration to the 2021 race, planned for April 23-25, 2021 or the 2022 race, planned for April 29-May 1.
The event provides an estimated economic impact of greater than $3 million and raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for charity. Additionally, the event donates money to dozens of community groups who manage water stations, on-course entertainment and cheer zones.The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission, along with runners, fans, and volunteers, will welcome the event’s comeback!