Let's go to Track Town!
Posted: Apr 25 2014
Watching the Boston Marathon has given all of us at Coeur a touch of Running Fever. Right after the race ended and we were confident that all the Coeur Ambassadors were across safely, we laced up our running shoes and did our best Meb impersonations.
On the outside, we were slow and ungraceful but in our minds, we were gliding down Boylston and raising our arms in victory.
Speaking of Meb, there are a few great videos of him running the last few minutes of the race. If we could figure out how, we’d just have it on a loop in the office. When he lifted his arms, he lifted us, the country and (in our opinion) the sport of running up at the same time.
So with that as context, we thought it might make sense to start highlighting a few of the great running destinations in the country. Clearly, there are thousands to choose from but we thought we’d start with one that is arguably the cradle of running here in the U.S. Eugene, Oregon aka Track Town!
Get To Know Track Town, USA
When people think about marathons and triathlons in the United States, a few big names come to mind. New York, of course, and Boston are usually on the top of the list. For triathlons, the Ironman competitions in Hawaii are the cream of the crop.
Big names as these all are, none of them hold the title of Tracktown, USA. That honor goes to Eugene, Oregon, and its citywide love of all things running.
The Emerald City
Home to the University of Oregon, Eugene is nestled in the Willamette Valley, two hours south of Portland on I-5. The verdant green of the town’s hundreds of trees and parks – being in the rainy Pacific Northwest has its perks – it helps give Eugene the nickname of the Emerald City. While you won’t see munchkins running along a yellow brick road, you will see plenty of running enthusiasts year round.
From Trials to Trails
For the runner, Eugene is a little slice of heaven. University of Oregon’s Hayward Field has been the home to the Olympic Track and Field trials and numerous NCAA track and field tournaments and championships. The Eugene Marathon, first ran in 2007, is held in late April or early May of each year.
There are trails for everyone all around town, from the beautiful rhododendron gardens in Hendricks Park to the grounds around Autzen Stadium. For those who like a little bit of incline with their run, Skinner’s Butte provides views of the city and surrounding county that are second to none.
If you don’t mind driving a bit, you can be in for quite a treat. One of the most popular running routes around is called the McKenzie River trail. We’ve been told that if you’re “going long”, this is the most beautiful trail in the area. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to get there from Eugene but we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It goes about 25 miles out, so if you’re thinking about entering an Ultra, you can get in a 50 miler on this one trail!
You probably don't see this on most of your trail runs!
There’s a ranger station at the start but you’ll need to bring your hydration with you. There’s a slight incline as you go out but you probably won’t notice due to the trees and the view. We need to confirm this fact but someone told us that Runner’s World listed this as one of the top five runs in the entire world!
Make Yourself Comfortable
Given the number of places to run around Eugene, you’ll probably want to stay for a while. From the luxury of the Hyatt to one of the several quaint bed and breakfasts around town, Eugene has plenty of places to hang your hat when you visit. On Franklin Boulevard, across from the university, there are numerous motels, both local and national chains, to fit any budget. No matter where you stay, however, you have to visit one of the city’s favorite restaurants. The Glenwood has two locations, Rennie’s Landing is a popular pre-game choice for the college crowd, and and Max’s Tavern – a bar, not a restaurant – bears a definite similarity to Moe’s Tavern on the Simpsons: not surprising, as creator Matt Groening attended University of Oregon!
You can’t spend every day lacing up your shoes – even the most dedicated athlete needs a break once in a while. Fortunately, Eugene, Lane County, and Western Oregon all provide even the most avid runner dozens of day trips to put your feet up. From getting your toes wet at the beach to hiking the Cascades, it’s easy to find something to do. Every Saturday from spring to fall, the Eugene Saturday Market has dozens of booths selling locally grown produce, organic meats, and handmade art pieces from artisans all over the area. Don’t forget to say hello to Frogg, one of Eugene’s most recognizable residents, and purchase one of his many self-published joke books.
Wine and Dine… Okay, Just Wine
We drink it for the anti-oxidants...really!
Coeur’s love of vino is well known and of course, every runner needs to keep up on her antioxidants. For her health, of course! Fortunately, the Willamette Valley is home to many of Oregon’s finest wineries and vineyards. There are over 175 different wineries in the Willamette Valley alone, many of which have open tours. Talk about a great way to rest run-tired legs!
While not a big city like New York, Chicago, or Portland, Eugene’s charm and dedication to running makes it an ideal destination for any runner, whether you’re tying your shoes for your first race or you’ve just won the Boston Marathon.
So that’s our view on this amazing town. We’d love to highlight other great places to run across the U.S. Feel free to send us your thoughts on locations and we’ll share their story.
Your Friends at Coeur!