Having established itself as one of the premier running events in the Northwest, the Eugene Marathon will transition to the Emerald Valley Triathlon starting in 2017. Participants scheduled for the half and full marathons on Sunday, May 7, 2017 will automatically be registered for the new format: a 0.5-mile swim, a 25-mile bicycle ride and a 6-mile run.
“We’re kind of over the whole marathon thing,” says Richard Maher, previously the race director for the Eugene Marathon and now event director for the Emerald Valley Triathlon. “We’ve had a lot of folks insist the old 13.1 and 26.2-mile formats are not very challenging, so this switch should increase the difficulty and the excitement level.”
The current marathon course will be expanded slightly to accommodate the bicycle portion of the triathlon. The venue for the swim portion is still being decided. Options include the ponds at Alton Baker Park, the pool at the Student Recreation Center on the University of Oregon campus or the Willamette River.
“The river could be flowing alarmingly high in May,” says Maher. “While we don’t want to put folks in unnecessary danger, swimming across a cold, raging Willamette River in spring would be quite the thrill and would give those who survive a great story to tell. We’ll just have to see how things play out.”
Participants are encouraged to completely overhaul their training methods and programs ahead of the May race date to prepare for the previously unannounced swimming and bicycle portions. Suggested training includes immersive swims in near-freezing water and grueling 100-mile practice rides on bicycle through the Coast Range. The added challenges means necessary equipment will also need to be adjusted. In addition to running shoes, triathletes will need a competition-level road bicycle and very possibly a full wet or dry suit.
“Sure, we live in TrackTown USA but we’ve been wanting to get away from a pure running event for quite a while,” says Maher. “People have been continually asking for something more difficult than running nearly 30 miles in a matter of hours and we decided this is the year to deliver.”
For those who were truly committed to running the half or full Eugene Marathon this year, take heart…