This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Oregon was my 36th state.
I thought I had chosen my Oregon half marathon well in advance and everything was taken care of. About a month before the race, my daughter informed me she would like to run a 5K in Oregon when I ran my half marathon, so I went to the website to register her and myself (I just hadn’t gotten around to registering myself but since it was a small race I wasn’t worried about it) and I had some questions about the 5K. I emailed the race director, who got back to me within a half an hour saying the race was cancelled and wanted to know what website I was getting my information from (since it needed to be updated).
I was in a panic. What do you mean the race has been cancelled? I have my flights, hotel, car all reserved. We’re going there next month! She asked me if I might be interested in another half marathon in Eugene that just happened to be that same weekend, only instead of Saturday like the one I thought I was going to run, this one was Sunday. I looked up the McKenzie River Half Marathon online. It was perfect. I signed up immediately and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
But then I began to realize just how crazy runners are in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is the birthplace of Nike. It’s where the famous runner Steve Prefontaine “Pre” was from. I would be dead last against all of these die-hard runners. I had to let all of that go and just focus on running my best race, which wasn’t easy. At packet pickup at the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield, I asked someone there about the course and was told, “It’s not bad at all. It’s pretty flat with some rolling hills.” In my experience, rolling hills = HUGE NON-STOP HILLS. That’s pretty much how I describe the course- uphill except for the first 2 miles and the last mile. No downhill at all. Yes, these Eugene runners are crazy.
The race starts at Emerald Dance Center in Springfield (with shuttles dropping people off here due to limited parking) and ends inside Armitage Park in Eugene. The course goes through the Hayden Bridge neighborhood then to Old Mohawk Rd and McKenzie View Dr. before ending at Armitage Park.
Click here for a GPS COURSE MAP. When I checked out the course elevation profile from the race website, it didn’t look too terribly bad, but when I was actually running the course it seemed pretty difficult. It’s funny how they are often deceptive like that. Despite all of the hills, I managed to finish third in my age group, winning a nice beer glass.
Shirts were available for purchase (not included in the registration fee) and I chose not to get one this time. The medals were unique and nice, however. There was a lot of food and drinks at the finish from the usual bananas and fruit to pizza, soup, Gatorade, and beer.
Note, my husband, who takes all of my race photos had issues with the camera so I only have two photos from the race and neither are that great.
A couple of days before the race, my family and I flew into Portland and from there it was a little over a 2 hour drive to Eugene. After the race we drove to Bend (about 2 1/2 hours) and did a ton of hiking there. Bend is a really fun place if you love outdoor activities. For things to do in Eugene and Bend see my post: Central Oregon-Eugene and Bend. I also recommend going to Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area before or after the race to see multiple waterfalls.
From my post-race notes: “McKenzie River Half Marathon started in Springfield and finished in Eugene. Was flat for the first 2 miles and last mile, but was uphill for the rest. Was extremely difficult because of the hills but was pretty scenic, going past farms with glimpses of the river here and there. The weather was good- overcast and in the low 40’s at the start and upper 50’s at finish. No spectators and only a few aid stations along the course. Didn’t receive a shirt since it wasn’t part of the entry fee (could have bought one but I didn’t) but did receive a nice medal. Finished third in my age group so I won a beer glass. Very nice array of food and drinks at the finish- pizza, beer, Gatorade, fruit, energy bars, soup. Was one of the toughest races I’ve ran. Finished in 2:02:32.”