Races — Eugene Marathon sees soggy weather, quick times

EUGENE, ORE — For the 6,000 runners that turned up in Eugene this morning for the third annual Eugene Marathon, the weather might have looked like a bummer. Early in the morning it was raining steadily with the temperatures in the mid-40s. But by race time, the rain had mostly passed and only light showers fell on the crowds. The weather turned out to be cold and soggy, but not a bad day for running good marathon times.

Out in front Matt Hooley won the men’s marathan in an Olympic Qualifying 2:18:38 and Emily Enstice won the women’s marathon in 2:58:36. The half-marathon divisions were won by Ian Fraser in 1:10:01 and Danielle Quatrochi 1:17:41.

The top three places in the men’s marathon were rounded out by Chad Worthen (2:26:36) and John Ngigi (2:31:02). Ngigi won last year’s Portland Marathon in 2:31:22.

1,713 men and women finished the full marathon in an average time of 4:13:51, which is slightly faster than the national average according to on-line race results. 3,073 runners finished the half-marathon in an average time of 2:32:52, with more than 2/3rds of the half-marathon finishers being women this year.

The Course
I was lucky enough to have been able to compete in the race this morning, driving down to Eugene in the early morning hours from Portland. The trip down saw lots of rain, that gradually broke as I made my way into Euguene. After meeting up with friends and jogging to the start on the University of Oregon campus, the race got underway right on-time at 7:00AM. The rain had stopped falling or was falling only very lightly at race time.

The initial pace was very quick at the front, with the leaders charging off up the slightly uphill first mile. I found myself needing to back off the pace (my target was 6:00/mile), because the large group at the front was carrying me along so quickly.

The course in the first few miles is mostly paved city streets and then eventually shifts onto narrower bike trails later on. Today there were plenty of puddles around for dodging, but the roads were generally in good shape and the course was well marked and easy to follow.

My initial impression of the half-marathon course was how hilly it felt. I had gone into the race under the impression that the course was flat, but I kept thinking to myself that I was running uphill again and again — in mile 1, 3, 5 and 8. The uphill in the eigth mile was long enough to slow most people down. Although none of these hills are steep enough to make the course what I would call “challenging”, I would say that they are enough to slow the course down slightly. I wouldn’t call this a superb course for chasing a new personal best — although there will be plenty of people that will likely the rolling and slightly up and down nature of the course to give them some variety in their strides.

A number of runners, including my friend Andy Glassner of Sherwood, Oregon, have told me that this is their favorite marathon course and I can see why. The scenery is constantly changing — at least in the first half — as it winds in and out of city streets and onto bike trails. My favorite spot along the course came right at mile 8, which appears on the map to be called the “East-side Scream Zone”. The course narrows as it comes to a hard right-hand corner and it lined with spectators that were screaming their brains out. The was perhaps that most fun part of the course.

The late miles of the half-marathon course switch onto paved bikes trails and cross a number of bridges as the course makes its way back to the University of Oregon campus. Runners get a peek at the back of Hayward Field from about a mile or so out, reminding them that they are almost there. The final stretch on the campus was lined with cheering runners and finishing next the the most famous Track and Field stdium in the United States is a fun way to end the race.

I enjoyed the Eugene Half-Marathon course, despite the soggy weather conditions. I might have gone into the race with slightly more conservative expectations had I known more about the hills in miles 5 and 8, but that only made me push harder to try to keep my goal pace today. This was a top-notch event for one that is so young and I looked foward to running it again.

Coach Joe English finished 18th overall in the half-marathon in 1:19:02, just barely missing his goal time of 1:19:00!

2009 Eugene Marathon Overall Results
Men’s Top-5 Finishers, Full Marathon
1. Matt Hooley 2:18:38
2. Chad Worthen 2:26:36
3. John Ngigi 2:31:02
4. Ian Nurse 2:31:25
5. Tim Rieger 2:31:49

Women’s Top-5 Finishers, Full Marathon
1. Emily Enstice 2:58:36
2. Elizabeth Broadbent 2:59:37
3. Emily Mah-Nakanishi 3:01:25
4. Heather Daniel 3:07:54
5. Kristy Aalberg 3:08:27

Men’s Top-5 Finishers, Half Marathon
1. Ian Fraser 1:10:01
2. Jason Pyles 1:11:48
3. Derek Vinge 1:13:26
4. Brett Spond 1:13:38
5. Stefan Jakobsen 1:13:46

Women’s Top-5 Finishers, Half Marathon
1. Danielle Quatrochi 1:17:41
2. Christy Lacey Macoll 1:18:09
3. Marian Pyles 1:21:57
4. Sally Bergesen 1:23:26
5. Nikki Rafie 1:24:33

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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