Walk with Me Marathon
June 28, 2003
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
In the 14th mile of the Walk with Me Marathon, I was following a guide bicycle trying to adjust to the improbable reality that I was leading the marathon. This happened on June 28, 2003, by the Willamette River as it runs through Eugene, Oregon. This "walk or run" event took place on paved trai
ls on both river shores using three footbridges to go from one side to the other.
Actually, I had been in the lead since the beginning of the marathon at 6:45 a.m., but I didn't know it. There were eight to ten half marathon runners ahead of me, and I assumed that some of them were fast marathoners. At any rate, when I returned to the start/finish half-way turnaround for the
marathoners, Lenore and the bike guide told me that I was the lead marathoner. Who....ME??
I made the most of it between that point and Mile 20, but the overhead sun and the 70+ air temperature were taking a toll. I fell off my 8.5 minute pace and was passed by a young lady who was running strong.
Later I learned that she was Roxana Trejo, 34, who was running her second marathon. She is from central Mexico and now lives in Eugene. Congratulations to Roxana for winning the race in 3:45:00.
When she passed me at 20 miles, I checked my watch and figured that a sub-four hour marathon was possible.....but not likely. Being passed by other runners seemed probable, too. I kept my shuffle going, drank liquids and kept my head wet. At Mile 26 I picked up the pace across a foot bridge to
the finish area. My watch had indicated that I had better do a "finishing kick" if I wanted a sub-four hour time, so I did it.
I crossed the finish line in 3:59:01, my best time of the year and my first sub-four in two years! I was second overall, first male, and the oldest runner in the the field.
We had heard about the Walk with Me Marathon from Lenore's sister, Dorothy Kahle, who lives in Eugene....adjacent to the Willamette River and the race course. She had an entry form sent to us, and we learned that runners were welcome to participate. We hadn't seen Dorothy for awhile, so this se
emed to be an opportunity to combine a family visit with a marathon. I would run on a marvelous river trail system, and Lenore would volunteer for several functions at the finish area.
This was our third inaugural marathon during the month of June. The Walk with Me Marathon was the most atypical. The race director, Tyler Burgess, is a college instructor who teaches classes on walking for fitness and well-being and leads travel tours of long distance walks. Her walking marath
on and half marathon emphasized social well-being in a non-competetive setting.
Runners were welcome, and the combined fields for the half and full ran together as they left the start area just before the walkers. Different colored bib numbers distinguished the two events. Unlike a typical race, there were no clocks, age-class competition, or race results. To those of us
who were interested in these things, we used personal watches for mile splits, finishing times of others and ourselves, plus querying other runners in the finish area for statistics.
Leaving Alton Baker Park by the river in Eugene, we ran in a 13 mile, narrow loop on the riverside, paved trails. Upon returning to the start/finish area, the half marathoners finished their event while the marathoners reversed course and did their second loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
The course was flat with a few minor hills.
The river is the highlight of the marathon and provides a scenic setting as it has both calm and turbulent sections....with cascades and flumes through exposed rocks. Most of the shoreline has large willows and cottonwoods that blocked the sun and provided shade for the runners and walkers. Thi
s was important to the runners because the air temperature rose from the 60's to the low 70's as the sun reached its zenith. The last walkers in the marathon had to contend with 90+ degree temperatures before they finished.
Congratulations to Ruth Momblanco, 34, of the Philippines and Springfield, Oregon, for running her first marathon in 4:19:43. Thanks to Fenny Roberts and Larry Brown of Salem, Oregon, and Jim Scheer of Vancouver, Washington, for responding positively to Lenore's suggestion that they run the mara
thon. Fenny and Jim had a finishing time of 4:23:20, and Larry had a new PR of 4:43:20 which made his day.
Nita LeMay, a 50 Stater from Chicago, is closing in on some personal goals as she ran her 47th state and her 97th marathon in 4:45:25. She'll soon be able to complete her 100 Marathon Club North America application form and graduate from a "wannabe" to a full-fledged member. Because of knee sur
gery, Carol Westerman, a 50 Stater from Louisville, Kentucky, walked her first marathon. She hopes to get back to running marathons in the near future.
It was good to see Diane Anderson of Enumclaw. She is now a "walker" instead of a "runner" and was happy to be able to participate in a marathon again.
Joe Henderson lives in Eugene and had provided Tyler Burgess with encouragement for organizing the marathon. He saw the runners off at the start and was at the finish area as other runners and I concluded the marathon. Later in the afternoon we met Joe for lunch at a restaurant on the race cour
se. By having our meal at an outdoor section, we could view the river and the users of the riverside trail a mile from the finish area.
Many thanks to the walkers who cheered me on as we passed going in opposite directions in the second half.....and to the volunteers at the aid stations who were supportive, friendly and helpful.
Congratulations to Tyler Burgess and her staff for putting on a well-organized inaugural marathon and half marathon in a scenic setting. If the race is offered in 2004, we will be back!!
Written by Bob Dolphin