The Eugene Marathon is rated as “One of the Best Marathons in the World” according to Runner’s World magazine, and according to the thousands of participants that come from around the world to participate each year. For the second year the COVID pandemic required runners to run virtually, but this didn’t dampen the excitement.

Organizers created a swag box that was akin to receiving an awesome birthday present. Complete with a water bottle, stickers, beanie, bib number, shirt and more. But, it was the custom designed “Hayward Magic Medals” that caught my eye and I’m guessing was enough of an incentive to entice many more to participate this year. Partnering with local design and fabrication company MAC Group, these “Magic Medals” were fashioned from wood reclaimed from the Historic Hayward Field and participants were asked to “Step Into History.”

Three staff from Travel Lane County participated in the 2021 Eugene Marathon and each shares a few thoughts from their experience.

Natalie Inouye is Vice President of Destination Marketing at Travel Lane County and is new to the Eugene Marathon. 

Natalie Inouye Marathon

The Eugene Marathon email announcing the Hayward Magic medals caught the eye of my husband and he was hooked and then I was too! We have been on a walk/run program since mid-December, and while our longest walk was six miles, we were feeling pretty confident that we could make it 26.2 miles, especially since there was no pressure of the course closing on us. We live in Eugene, so I wanted to follow the official course, but Dean had a better idea. We have a 5.5-mile loop from our house that gave us a pit-stop on each round. It was fantastic! We walked more than ran; were exhausted by the end; and you will find us 7th and 8th from the bottom of the list of finishers, but we don’t care. After we finished the fifth loop (a shorter 4.2 miles if you are doing the math), Dean let me in on his secret - the marathon has been on his bucket list for years, but he felt he was past the opportunity. Thanks to the Eugene Marathon and that Hayward Magic for fulfilling his dream and giving us a perfect day together!

Kari Westlund, President/CEO of Travel Lane County, is past president of the Oregon Track Club.

Kari Westlund Marathon

Having run the Eugene half-marathon a few times and qualifying for the Boston Marathon in my first full Eugene Marathon attempt in 2013, I let several years of inactivity slip by. Eugene Marathon to the rescue in 2021. Signing up for the half marathon gave me the goal I needed to regain some consistency in my running and rebuild my strength and lungs. It was my slowest half marathon ever, but I earned my finisher medal and all the other goodies so nicely packaged up and mailed out in this virtual event year. The box is a keeper, along with the memory of overcoming a long year of uncertainty. A hearty thank you to Eugene Marathon and all the other events that went virtual during this pandemic year so participants could hang on to meaningful connections and activity. Looking forward to lining up with thousands of other runners next year at the start line of the Eugene Marathon.

Andy Vobora is the Vice President of Stakeholder Relations at Travel Lane County. 

Andy Vobora Marathon

I last participated in the Eugene Marathon in 2012. This COVID year has provided me an opportunity to work from home, which has meant less time commuting to and from work and more time for running and cycling. Having completed a number of virtual runs and cycling events over the past year, I decided to run the in-person Cottage Grove Half Marathon in March. That decision came four weeks before the event!  Trail running at Mt. Pisgah gave me a foundation for completing the run, but my running mostly involved 2-3 miles at lunch with Baxter the Adventure Dog.  Then I saw the Eugene Marathon swag box, including the Hayward Magic Medals, and I was hooked.  My 31st season officiating high school football came between the Cottage Grove Half and the Eugene Half, and significantly interrupted my training, however I was able to persevere and now I proudly wear my shirt and display my medal. Kudos to the entire Eugene Marathon crew! 

Hope to see you at the 2022 Eugene Marathon!