April 29, 2007
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
The inaugural Eugene Marathon on April 29, 2007, was an event whose time had come. After all, Eugene, Oregon, home of the University of Oregon, is a world renowned mecca for distance running. It had been over 23 years since the last runners' marathon, the Nike Marathon, was held at Eugene. It is appropriate that the new marathon and accompanying events started by the University's Hayward Field where I was reminded of track and field events that had taken place there.
Brought to mind were legends such as Steve Prefontaine of track fame, Nike's Bill Bowerman who coached many track stars, Mary Decker Slaney, Kenny Moore and Alberto Salazar. It's appropriate that the motto of the new Eugene Marathon is "Running in the Footsteps of Legends."
My first visit to Hayward Field was to watch many events during the World Veteran Games in early August of 1989. I have a vivid recollection of watching 82 year old retired jockey Ed Benham run 400 meters at an eight minute pace to enhance his international stature. At that time he held the 80+ marathon record with a 3:43.
The next day, August 6, 1989, I joined Lary Webster of Seattle, Washington, and many others to run in a games marathon. We ran on paved trails by the Willamette River and on back roads by the nearby Autzen Stadium on a warm, clear and calm day. I ran a 3:08:24 and was out of the running for 50+ males. Lary ran a sub three-hour marathon for a second place in this division.
The next time that I visited Hayward Field was with Lenore when we came to watch our grand-nephew Kevin Kahle, son of nephew Lynn Kahle and his wife Debi Eisert of Eugene, as he ran well in a school track event there.
Several years ago Richard Maher and his nephew Andy Heily talked about developing a marathon in Eugene. As the plans were developed and others joined in the effort, Richard became the race director, and Andy would be his associate. The end result was the inaugural Eugene Marathon that was very successful. Lenore and I had a great time and plan to return next year with Lenore volunteering at the finish area while I run.
The day before the marathon, Lenore and I went to the Hilton Eugene race headquarters for packet pickup, volunteer signup, Expo visitation and to attend some of the speakers presentations and panels. It was good to see our long-time friend Joe Henderson who resides at Eugene and assisted in the marathon planning leading up to the event. He had a booth at the Expo for speakers to obtain information on the time and place of presentations. Joe teaches a class in distance running at the University of Oregon and mentioned that he would have 60 students on the course on race day, many of them first-timers.
One of the panelists at the Expo was Tyler Burgess, a walking coach and teacher at the university who was the race director of the Walk with Me Marathon in Eugene from 2003-2006. This event started and finished in a riverside park and utilized paved trails on both sides of the Willamette River. Running was permitted and encouraged in this marathon, so I ran it twice and walked it once.
On Sunday, April 29th, the weather was good for running with temperatures in the 50's and low 60's under partly cloudy skies. Intermittent, light winds had a cooling effect without being an impediment. My race went well as the first half was exploratory running in areas new to me in the suburbs of Eugene and Springfield. The second half was on familiar trails along the Willamette River where I had run and walked in the three Walk with Me Marathons.
I was pleased that I could hold my pace fairly well, at least for 20 miles, so I passed a few runners along the way. In the last 10K I slowed down, and runners began to pass me. A few running friends who usually finish ahead of me didn't overtake me, and I crossed the finish line in 5:10:13, 1,230th of 1,496 finishers and second of three in the 75+ male division.
John Keston, 82, a famous runner and world record holder from Sun River, Oregon, was the winner in my age group. We exchanged greetings as he passed me in the 7th mile and went out of sight. He ran on to win the 75+ division in 4:27:33. He had a busy weekend appearing on panels at the Runners Expo, guest speaker at the pasta meal and singing the national anthem at the start of the race. Lenore and I enjoyed visiting with John and his wife Anne at the race director's post-race party at the race headquarters hotel.
The third runner in our division was 78 year old Al Becken of San Antonio, Texas. Just before we crossed the Autzen Footbridge over the Willamette River in the 6th mile, Al passed me and I soon lost track of him. In the 14th mile I passed him as he ran with Frank Searfus, 56, of Coos Bay, Oregon (5:22:44). Al has finished ahead of me in past races, so I expected to see him again. He probably was reeling me in, but I crossed the finish line first. He followed a few minutes later with a time of 5:13:01 for third place in the 75+M division.
As I was running in the 8th mile by the Willamette River, the front runners ran by in the opposite direction in their 14th mile. The winner was James Nielsen, 27, of Stanford University at Palo Alto, California. He was trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials "B" standard by running faster than 2:22:00. His winning time of 2:21:01 met his goal and gave him an unexpected win, plus $500 in prize money.
In second place was Daniel Hughes, 28, of Greenville, South Carolina. Running in his first marathon, he had problems in the last few miles but held onto second place with a 2:23:21. Just five seconds behind him was Eric Lavigne, 30, of Leesburg, Virginia, with a 2:23:26 for a third place overall.
The women's race was close as Meredith Lambert, 32, of Wilmington, Delaware, came in first with a 2:44:39 (27th overall). In less than a minute Stephanie Dueringer, 31, of Indianapolis, Indiana, crossed the finish line for second place (2:45:29). Then Susan Embey, 38, of Mercer Island, Washington, finished with a 2:46:27.
There were a lot of Marathon Maniacs on hand. Lenore and I visited with Jack and Gunhild Swanson, Lesa Overfield and others at the Expo. At the starting area I saw Patch Dahl, Henry Rueden and Hajime Nishi (from Japan)……greeted Richard Haase, Leslie Miller, Tim Bruce and Mel Preedy on the course……and saw Jon Gissberg and others at the finish area.
Congratulations to Susie Saladin, 40, of Lake Oswego, Oregon (4:55:37) as she ran her first marathon. We talked in the 19th mile and then she ran to a strong finish, 15 minutes ahead of me.
Congratulations to Chuck Cammack, 61, a 100 Marathon Club Member North America from Albany, Oregon, for running his 200th MARATHON at Eugene. In his prime, he ran marathons around 2:45 and completed many 50 mile races at a fast pace. Starting in 2004, a long siege with pancreatic cancer led to surgery to remove the pancreas, radiation treatment and chemotherapy. In his first comeback race, he finished the 2005 Yakima River Canyon Marathon with a time of 3:55:10, but this race took its toll. Chemotherapy had weakened his vertebrae, and nine of them were fractured before he crossed the finish line. His next "comeback" race was to finish his 200th marathon, and he did just that by crossing the finish line in 4:42:24. We're proud of you, Chuck!!!
Thanks go to Race Director Richard Maher and his team for allowing us to "Run in the Footsteps of Legends." The inaugural Eugene Marathon was a huge success, and I would recommend it to any marathoner who wants to participate in a great event.
Written by Bob Dolphin
Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin