Eugene Marathon

Eugene woman warms up for Boston Marathon by running Eugene Half Marathon

By Linden Moore 

Bill Manning stood at the finishers festival of the Eugene Marathon with his son while waiting for his wife. The father of two searched for Laura Lee McIntyre, who just finished the half marathon. A veteran runner, McIntyre took in her surroundings of the her fellow runners and the running community that she was surrounded with.

“It was great,” McIntyre said of her race. “It’s a beautiful course and perfect weather.”

McIntyre had just completed one of her many half marathons, finishing with a personal record of 1 hour, 43 minutes, 19 seconds – and beat her previous time of 1:44. But when McIntyre came over to her children, she didn’t show any signs of sweat or tiredness, rather a calm voice and poised presence.

“Today was definitely my fastest,” she said.

McIntyre is no stranger to running, and has dedicated most of her life to the sport. After competing in various races, she set a goal to compete in the Boston Marathon. Eight years worth of injuries and two pregnancies later, she finally qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon with a finish time of 3 hours and 37 minutes.

“I burst into tears I was so happy. When you run a hard race, you give it everything you possible can,” McIntyre said. “You feel very raw emotionally and physically you’re completely depleted but you’re just happy.” (more…)

Hand cyclist Esterberg wins wheelchair division at Eugene Marathon

By Ariel Sax

Sunday marked a special day for 26-year-old Alex Esterberg in the Eugene Marathon – it was his very first competition.

Esterberg, one of Eugene’s locals, was the marathon’s only hand cyclist this year.

Going into his freshman year of high school at he age of 15, Esterberg had a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from about the belly button down. Before the accident, he participated in as many sports as he possibly could, including wakeboarding, snow skiing, snowboarding and motorcycling.

Now his main focus is hand cycling. Esterberg received his first hand-cycle from an organization based in San Diego called “Athletes in Action.” Over the years, they have continued to supply him with hand-cycles whenever one gets too worn out.

“He rides about 15 miles every day,” said his father, Mark Esterberg. “He knows every bike trail in Eugene.” (more…)

Tavernier’s sign inspires runners in Eugene Marathon

By Maggie Vanoni

Eugene local Karalis Tavernier cheered on his brother Lyle and 2,470 other runners in the Eugene Marathon on Sunday by holding a sign that reads “I’m Proud of You, Complete Stranger.”

“I ran the marathon once and it was really hard, but I got a lot of support from the fans holding signs,” said Tavernier. “So, I thought that I would do it since I don’t run anymore.”

Tavernier ran the full 26.2-mile race 10 years ago at the very first annual Eugene Marathon. He has been to every Eugene Marathon as a community member cheering on the multitude of runners with his sign.

Lyle finished the half marathon in an hour 59 minutes and 17 seconds, placing 73rd out of the 123 runners in his age group. This year’s half marathon marked his 12th time racing the 13.1-mile distance.

“When Lyle ran by me he said, ‘I’m not a stranger, I’m your brother!’” said Tavernier.

As runners pass by Tavernier’s sign, their reactions range from high-fives and smiles to shouts of ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you.’ In a previous year, he even recalls getting proposed to mid-race by a runner because of his sign. This year Tavernier’s favorite moment was when a woman came up to him after the race and asked to take a picture with him. The woman said his sign helped encouraged her throughout the race.

“The good energy was really helpful,” said half-marathon runner Melissa Olsen. “When you start to feel tired, you can absorb that energy and put it into your running. Seeing his sign made me smile because of that.” (more…)

Four states down, 46 to go for native Eugene marathoner

On Sunday morning, before most of the city of Eugene was even awake, runners of all ages gathered in front of Hayward Field for the 10th annual Eugene Marathon. The sun was barely up when they arrived, wearing shirts of every neon color imaginable. Puffy clouds from the cold morning air emitted from their mouths as they breathed, stretching out their legs that would soon be pounding the streets of Eugene for 26.2 miles. Among them is 28-year-old Tiffany Lambert, wearing a lime colored tank top, black shorts and white socks that cover her calves.

Lambert has spent the last 10 years in the Air Force. She is currently stationed in Virginia, but she originally hails from Eugene. Lambert finished the marathon in 3 hours 36.46 minutes, but she wasn’t completely satisfied.

“I was shooting to get under 3:30, which I did not get, but I’ll keep going at it,” said Lambert.

Near the checkpoint in front of Autzen Stadium, about halfway through the race, Lambert’s mom, Missi Barrett, wearing a shirt that said “Keep Calm and Bake On” and a red vest that she refused to take off because she told Lambert she would be wearing it, waited with the rest of Lambert’s family. Everyone anxiously checked their phones for any updates. Lambert had told them that she would be passing them at 8:30 a.m.

“She’s normally very accurate,” said Barrett.

Barrett recalls the one time Lambert wasn’t accurate. In December, Lambert ran a marathon in Washington, D.C. It was so cold that the water in the cups that get handed out to the runners was freezing before anyone could drink it. Barrett started getting worried about Lambert when she stopped getting text updates. Sure enough, Lambert had injured herself and didn’t finish the race.

Sunday in Eugene was far from freezing, and Lambert achieved a much better result. She didn’t end up passing her family for another 30 minutes, but she did finish the race. Coming back to her hometown wasn’t her only motivation to run in the marathon; she has also just begun a difficult but not impossible feat: to run 50 marathons in all 50 states.

“I think she’s kind of crazy,” said Barrett. “Who runs 26 freakin’ miles?”

To train for these marathons, Lambert said, she does “lots and lots and lots of running.” This makes Lambert go through about seven pairs of shoes per year.

“In 2015, she ran 2,015 miles,” said Barrett.

Lambert started running long distance in high school while she participated on the school’s track and field team. She was originally a sprinter, but according to Barrett, she was “horrible.” So, Lambert began running longer distances and was more successful.

This was Lambert’s fourth marathon toward her statewide goal, not counting ultra-marathons, which would bring her total up to six. So she still has quite a while to go if she wants to make it to fifty. She has also run in marathons in Philadelphia and New Jersey. In November, Lambert will be running in the New York City Marathon.

“I haven’t planned anything other than that, so we’ll see,” said Lambert.

Ten years after running revival, Trujillo gets Olympic qualifier

As his feet hit the same track where he had resuscitated his running career a decade earlier, Carlos Trujillo had already run 41,842 meters Sunday morning. To keep his Olympic dreams alive, he needed to run 200 more in 42 seconds.

While fighting off cramps that attacked during the 22nd mile, Trujillo blazed down the Hayward Field backstretch and barely outkicked the clock to deliver a dazzling finish and qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics at the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning.

A former University of Oregon runner and Pac-12 champion in the 10,000 meter event, Trujillo won the race by over 10 minutes in a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 54 seconds. He cleared the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:19 by just six seconds.

“At the 26-mile mark, I knew I needed about a minute from there to the finish to get the standard,” Trujillo said. “Crossing into Hayward, I had done it so many times, coming around the Bowerman Curve. It just motivated me to really kick hard.”

After failing to qualify for the U.S. team at the at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, Trujillo decided to take a shot at representing Guatemala — he is a dual citizen and both his parents were born there.

In Los Angeles, Trujillo and hundreds of others wilted under the California sun as the temperature reached 78 degrees, and many runners chose to merely survive the course instead of attacking it. This time around, it wasn’t the hills or the heat that threatened Trujillo’s’ Olympic dreams. It was the isolation of running 13 miles on his own.

“In the first half I had my pacer, Daniel Wallis,” Trujillo said. “Once he dropped, I was like OK, now it’s the real test… It was different. I’ve never run a marathon where the second half I’m all alone and trying to keep pace.”

It wasn’t the fastest time of Trujillo’s brief career — that would be the 2014 Chicago Marathon, where he ran 2:14 — but it was the most significant. He delivered the performance on some of the same trails and roads where his career began to blossom 10 years earlier.

Before he won the Pac-10 10,000 meter championship in 2008, Trujillo had nearly given up the sport for good. He and his twin brother, Esteban, attempted to walk on to the University of Oregon team during their freshman year, but were turned away by then-head coach Martin Smith.

After taking a brief hiatus from running, the duo joined the University of Oregon Running Club the following spring and trained under former Oregon women’s distance coach Tom Heinonen. When Vin Lananna took over the Oregon head coach position in 2005, Heinonen recommended the brothers.

“It’s really amazing when you think about it,” Heinonen said. “Carlos has a great story. That’s the way things are supposed to work out and almost never do.”

Heinonen and his group of student runners meet each day at the intramural fields adjacent to Hayward Field to begin their workouts. Heinonen often jokes that the only thing that separates the athletes he coaches and the elite Duck athletes is the fence that sits between the turf recreation fields and the Hayward grandstand. In the case of the Trujillo brothers, it wasn’t a joke.

Once they made the jump from club to collegiate, Carlos and Esteban each ran three seasons with the Ducks. With a revived passion for the sport, they become contributing members to one of the top track and field programs in the nation.

 “I give Tom so much thanks,” Carlos Trujillo said. “He kind of helped me find the passion to get into running. … Ten years ago I got onto the Oregon team because of his help, and now I’m here making an Olympic team.”



Inspired by soldier son, a father becomes a marathoner


It was eight years ago when Steve Swanlund made a major lifestyle change. Inspired by his son Zac’s deployment to Iraq, Swanlund and each of his family members started a new positive activity. Steve took on running, his wife Carrie ran a half marathon, their daughter started a charity and the family’s second son learned to play the drums.

But it was Steve’s goal that changed his life the most. He dropped 60 pounds.

“The year was going to go by no matter what,” Steve said. “Why not, when Zac got home, be better people for it. Why not accomplish something you think is hard. That’s the way our family is.”

Steve finished the Eugene Marathon on Sunday in 3 hours, 15 minutes, 23 seconds, a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon next spring in the 45-49 age group. During the 26.2-mile race, he kept his mile pace between 7:25 and 7:36.

“This was my best prepared race I’ve done in a long time,” Steve said.

Steve’s passion for running didn’t come instantly. At first, he worked hard to lose the extra weight. In doing so, he lowered his cholesterol levels and eliminated high blood pressure concerns.

“It probably saved my life,” Steve said.

He’s since run 28 marathons and completed five Ironman Triathlons. Steve wakes up at 4:30 a.m. daily to swim and run in his home of Puyallup, Washington, before heading off to work at 8 a.m.

“We became morning people,” Carrie said with a laugh. “We’re not night people anymore. We’re in bed by 8:30.”

While Steve was busy training his body for triathlons and extended runs, the family received upsetting news about their son in Iraq. While on a routine operation, Zac and two others had their truck hit by an IED. It opened “like a tulip” and the 21-year-old Zac got the worst of it. He still deals with the injuries today and received a Purple Heart when he returned home.

Zac’s doing great now, and Steve admits his son is probably in better shape than he is.

It’ll be Steve’s second time running in the famed Boston Marathon, but when he first started eight years ago, Steve scraped his way to 11-minute miles. Carrie describes Steve as a “spreadsheet guy,” so she wasn’t surprised when he gathered a collection of training books to get started. He once trained on his own, starting with a 5K. He now trains regularly with a team.

“I made a pact with myself that I would improve myself while he was gone,” Steve said.

He said while Zac’s deployment was first the primary motivating factor, marathon running and triathlons have taken on a life of their own. He’s competed in the Ironman in places like Hawaii and Canada.

“It’s a logistics nightmare,” Steve said. “With the swim, bike, run … it’s very expensive. It’s more of an accomplishment when you’re done.

“Marathons are super easy. You pack your shoes, your watch and you go.”

Steve’s promise to his son turned into a daily routine. He’s constantly training now, something even his wife admits seemed far-fetched 15 years ago.

“That’s how he does everything in his life,” Carrie said. “He’s so positive.”



Friends assure one final marathon — the 100th finish — for Eugene runner

The signs lined the Bowerman curve as the 77-year old marathoner dying from prostate cancer made his final strides towards the finish line. “Way to go!” one sign said. “We love you, Richard,” said another.

Behind Richard Leutzinger, 24 runners in matching neon yellow “Team Richard” shirts followed, but matching strides with the man was the doctor that made his final wish a possibility.

Bryan Melhaff, Leutzinger’s urologist at the Oregon Urology Institute, first met the aging runner four years ago at the time of his diagnosis. Having run 90 marathons, Leutzinger told Melhaff his dream was to run in a 100th. Melhaff made the goal his goal, too, and took it upon himself to do whatever he could to help Leutzinger accomplish it.

And on the first day of May, four years after his cancer diagnosis in 2012, Leutzinger ran the last three miles of the Eugene Marathon, crossing the finish line of a marathon for the 100th time – a feat many runners only dream of accomplishing.

“It’s so special,” Leutzinger said, his final marathon medal hanging from his neck. “I think it’s like, if I was a child, it would be like a Make-a-Wish kind of thing.”

Before he picked up running, Leutzinger was an avid smoker. He did it for 20 years before deciding he needed a healthier lifestyle.

“One addiction kind of replaced another,” he said.

Leutzinger ran his fastest marathon, a time of 2:38.16, at the age of 40 – a time that would’ve placed him third overall at Sunday’s marathon.

Four months ago, stuck at 99 completed marathons, Leutzinger discovered his prostate had worsened. He’s got a genetic defect that rejects most treatment. It was only a matter of time before it worsened, Melhaff said.

“Taking care of him and seeing how his diagnosis was affecting him, it kind of became obvious to both of us that running a 100th, anywhere, was going to be a challenge,” Melhaff said.

A month ago, Melhaff decided to spring into action and do something. He emailed people in Leutzinger’s running group, the UO Noon Runners, and contacted Richard Maher, the Eugene Marathon race director. Everyone was on board.

The plan was this: the members of the running club would run a relay, passing off roles from the start of the marathon through the course. Then, with three miles left in the 26.2-mile course, Leutzinger would start his leg, ultimately passing through the gates of Hayward Field and onto the track for one last trip across the finish line – the other runners right behind him.

When the course turned from concrete to track, Melhaff, running right behind Leutzinger, felt his emotions kicking in. He got chills seeing all the signs, looking at the runners in the matching shirts with him. Leutzinger’s storybook ending, a goal Melhaff shared, had become a reality.

“It’s just an amazing story, and the more you get to know Richard, you know why,” Melhaff said. “He’s such a great guy.”

Originally, the plan for Leutzinger was to run No. 100 at Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece. He didn’t quite get there, but that doesn’t take away from the moment he had on Sunday – and he owes it all to his urologist.

“To do it with all your friends, and to find out how many people care about you, it’s amazing,” Leuztinger said.








Marathon just a warm-up for this ultra runner

Mary Popish approached the Eugene Marathon mostly just as a training run. She figured it would help get her in shape for the 50- and 100-mile races she plans to run later this year.

This didn’t stop her from running a new personal best of 4 hours ,7 minutes, destroying her old best time of 4 hours and 29 minutes, a time she ran just a week before at a marathon in Bend.

Popish, a manager for the studio spaces at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, had always wanted to run a marathon. It was natural, perhaps, for a former high school cross-country runner.

She checked off that bucket-list item in 2010, when she ran the Eugene Marathon as a freshman at the University of Oregon.

Her 22-minute PR on Sunday marked her 11th marathon, leaving her hungrier for longer and much harder distances.

“Gotta have goals—that’s where the 50 and the 100 come in,” she said. “I’m my happiest and my best self when I have something I’m training for.”

Popish does most of her training between 6 and 7 every morning before work. These days consist mostly of strength conditioning and speed work. She saves her long runs for the weekends.

In preparation for the 50- and 100-mile races she has planned, Popish hopes to extend her weekend long run to about 40 miles, a feat that would last just about all day.

Popish relies on what she calls “silly tricks” to help her get through such long distances.

“I tell myself silly things like, ‘You absolutely can do this, yeah you can do this,’ and spend a majority of my time in races doing math,” she said. “’OK, at this next mile marker that means we have x amount of miles left, if we have x amount of miles left that’s basically three sets of x miles.’”

Popish understands that attempting to run 100 miles is an unusual thing to do but has no plans to back out.

“Are we crazy? Yeah that’s a crazy thing to do,” she said. “We’re telling everyone we know, so not doing it is not an option at this point.”

After completing the 100-mile race later this year, Popish has another goal in mind, the Boston Marathon.

In order to qualify for Boston, Popish would have to run 3:35 or better, meaning she’d have to run 73 seconds faster per mile over the 26.2-mile course than she did when she ran 4:07 at the Eugene Marathon.

She said she plans to take as much time as she needs to fully recover from the 100-mile race and then wants to dive right into a more speedwork-oriented training regimen.

“It’s a different kind of athlete, it’s a different kind of training program, to try and run a fast marathon than to try and run 100 miles at a time,” she said.








High school senior Meaghan Wheeler combined a regular college visit with her first ever marathon

The first weekend of May was an especially busy one for 17-year-old Meaghan Wheeler.

The high school senior flew in from Westwood, Massachusetts, with her mother and grandmother on Thursday, went on a University of Oregon campus tour on Friday, and completed her first marathon at the 10th edition of the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning.

Although Wheeler walked for some sections of the race, the ecstatic crowd at Hayward Field spurred her on. She mustered a final burst of energy to sprint the final 200 meters, crossing the finish line in 4 hours, 10 minutes, 21 seconds.

Although it may not have been a perfect race for Wheeler, the marathon weekend was definitely held at a perfect time for her.

“I wanted to finish a marathon before I graduated from high school, and I needed to visit Oregon, so it worked out,” she said.

Her mother, Katie, 44, chimed in, “Yesterday was the decision day. You had to have your deposit in if you wanted to come to the university. The timing was getting a little tight, and we had to get it done.”

Meaghan has narrowed down her college choices to Oregon, Villanova and American University. From her brief time in Oregon so far, culture, location and the school’s strong environmental science program have stood out to her.

The friendly, laidback culture is a welcome change from her hometown, where she says people tend to be more high-strung. The mountains and the close proximity to the ocean make Oregon even more appealing.

Having participated in six track seasons before, Wheeler skipped it this year in order to accomplish her goal of completing a marathon before graduation. She had been focusing more on speed work than long runs leading up to the marathon, and she admitted that she should have spent more time on the latter. The longest run she had clocked before the marathon was 21 miles.

“It was a big jump,” Wheeler said. “I’d only run 16 miles the week before. I felt great (running the 21). It was my favorite kind of weather, which is rainy, so it cooled me down and kept me going, and I ran through the woods a lot. That helped me a lot.”

With a marathon under her belt and recognizing which aspects she needs to work on, Wheeler is ready for more 26.2 fun in the hopes of someday qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

“Today was a learning experience, and I really just wanted to finish one before I graduated from high school,” she said. “I definitely want to run 3:30-3:35. If I adjust my training properly, I think I’ll be able to do that.”

Her mother was initially mind-blown when Wheeler first told her about her marathon plans. Meaghan had gone on about wanting to visit Oregon for a couple of months, but it wasn’t until two weeks before the Eugene Marathon that Katie realized her daughter was serious about combining the Oregon visit and her first marathon.

“She’s only 17, but she’s really determined and focused,” said Katie. “It was just sort of funny, especially with the timing, she’s like ‘Oh, I really want to look at UO, and while I’m there, I’m going to run the marathon.’ And I’m like ‘Oh, of course that’s what you want to do.’ I’m sure that’s what every kid wants to do when they go on a college visit, do a campus tour and then run a marathon.”

When Katie saw the forecast, which called for the temperature to be 80 degrees toward the later morning, she adjusted her expectations. “Any expectations I may or may not have had just went out the window. I was just like, ‘Please just finish and be alive at the end of it.’

“It’s her first marathon – I think it’s good to get one out of the way and understand what its like to do the whole thing as a runner. It’s all fantastic, it’s great, I’m so proud of her.”

Meaghan’s parents have been especially supportive of her running career. Meaghan has been a vegetarian since she was 12, and her parents have put in effort to prepare healthy meals for her. “Her father gets up really early in the morning to prepare these elaborate low carb, high protein, with lots of vegetable diets for her,” said Katie. “She’s not a kid that’s grabbing a Pop Tart and heading out the door to school. She’s pretty focused on what she does to prepare mentally and physically for the race.”

Being away from home made things slightly complicated for Meaghan to maintain her healthy diet because she did not have easy access to the foods she usually ate. To circumvent this, Meaghan packed some familiar ingredients on this trip while Katie searched Yelp for restaurants with healthy options. They also made a trip to the local health food market to stock up on foods such as sweet potatoes, tuna fish and almond butter.

“Whatever she wanted to do in the past five days, we were up for anything,” she said. “We just tried to give her space and let her be in her own zone.”

Can Meaghan count on her mother’s support in future marathons?

“Definitely. A hundred percent,” Katie replied without hesitation. “Maybe it’ll be a little bit closer to home next time, but whatever she wants. I’m just so proud of her.”

Random encounter with a coaching legend turns baseball player into runner

As Justin Smith crossed the finish line in the 2016 Eugene Half Marathon, he knew that this would be his last race in Eugene, a place where he came to play baseball, but will leave with a burning desire to continue running.

The half-marathon alone is not a sufficient weekly dose of competitive running for Smith. Prior to the Eugene Half-Marathon on Sunday, May 1, he competed Thursday in the 1,500-meter run and 3,000-kilometer race at the Titan Twilight—and the Flapjack 5K on Saturday. He then proceeded to get a personal record of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 50 seconds in the half-marathon.

Three years ago, after graduating from Orland High School in northern California, Smith had committed to playing baseball at Lane Community College. Although he had a passion for running and had run varsity on his high school team, Smith thought that he was better at baseball.

That plan, however, took a turn when he met a couple during an early night conditioning run on Pre’s Trail in August 2013, just weeks before his baseball workouts were set to begin.

That couple just so happened to be Harry Marra, coach of decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, and Marra’s wife. Not knowing who Marra was, Smith was simply concerned for an older gentleman’s safety at the late hour.

After stopping his run to walk Marra and his wife to their car, Smith learned of Marra’s 30 years of experience coaching some of the best multi-event athletes in the world. Their conversations left him questioning his future in athletics.

“I felt like it was a sign,” Smith said. “Of all the people I could have met on Pre’s trail at 9 o’clock at night, and I meet a super famous track coach. I felt like it was some sort of sign to say that maybe I should just keep running.”

And that’s exactly what Smith decided to do. He still went to Lane, but stopped baseball completely to focus on running and finishing his Associate of Art Oregon Transfer degree. This past year, he went to the University of Oregon and ran for the Oregon Running Club.

“Justin is one of the greatest teammates,” fellow Oregon Running Club athlete Jake Willard said. “When I first met him in fall, we immediately connected. We run about the same times, so we trained together and became close.”

During this track season, Smith has cut his 800-meter time down by 16 seconds and his 1,500-meter by 27 seconds.

 “Justin’s added another sort-of excited, buoyant, interested personality to our group,” Oregon Running Club coach Tom Heinenen said. “He’s shown people that by training and being diligent, you can improve. He’s done that and really taken advantage of the level of competition that we have.”

Smith’s dedication and drive to succeed that Willard and Heinenen have witnessed first-hand, has shown in his running endeavors this past week.

 “I had a really busy running week,” Smith said. “So I was happy that I still had some legs left in me.”

Because of all of Smith’s success, he has committed to running for Central Methodist University in Missouri next year. If it weren’t for the chance encounter with Marra that summer night in 2013, Smith would never have been given this opportunity.

Although Eugene Marathon was Smith’s final race in Eugene before he leaves for Missouri, that doesn’t mean it will be his last race ever in Eugene. Smith hopes to one day be a track coach and potentially move back to the city dedicated to the sport he loves: TrackTown USA.

“The marathon was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “It’s my last couple weeks in Eugene, so it is a good little going away party.”




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