1-Calling on Dean Karnazes to discuss the [u]Oregon[/u] running scene is like bringing in the winner of American Idol to discuss the Portland Indy music scene.
2-I am not sure if any studies/surveys have been done, but I would find it very surprising if there were a mid-size or large city in the USA that had more recreationally-competitive runners (those who regularly toe the line with a number on their chest) per capita, than Portland, Oregon.
"1-Calling on Dean Karnazes to discuss the Oregon running scene is like bringing in the winner of American Idol to discuss the Portland Indy music scene."
JohnDc, we'll definitely run this by Karnazes! But to clarify, we've invited him on not to tell us what the Oregon running scene is like but to help situate the scene in the larger running world.
There is certainly something about Oregon that inspires people to run. And it goes beyond the nostalgia and history of running in this state; something inspired Oregon's running legends before there were any. Personally, it isn't the memory of Prefontaine that gets me out the door for my run each day.
What is it about Oregon?
The temperate climate, the lush and rugged scenery, and the abundance of access we have to designated paths, trails, and even just rural/logging roads might all be factors. There isn't a corner of this state that doesn't motivate me to run.
Why do we run?
Running is certainly an individual sport. But for many, the experience is enhanced by participating with others. We may do most races individually, but how do you explain that team running events, like Hood to Coast, are some of the most popular events in the state?
Running clubs have become a magnet for people wanting to 1) join others for group runs, 2) race on a team and 3) find a forum to discuss running, nutrition, and even things outside the scope of running. The running club I have been president of for the past 3 years, Team Red Lizard, has 300 active members who all have one of those listed as the top reason for their membership. And I'm not being biased or uninformed when I say that we might be the best running club in the world. Out of town runners who know running clubs because they belong to one at home (wherever that may be) look us up and join us for a group run; the feedback is always the same - amazement at the number of active members and at how great running is in Oregon.
From the cool, misty days of winter to the dry sunny days of summer, there aren't a whole lot of days that don't allow one to get out the door for year-round training. And a day like today... I'm looking out the window right now thinking that I need to be out there enjoying it in the best way I know how - on a run.
President, Team Red Lizard
I am 750 miles into a year long goal of running 1,001 miles to raise money for Children's Cancer Association, a wonderful local non profit here in Portland. To date, close to $10,000 in pledges have been made, 100% of which will go to Children's Cancer Association. I have been keeping a blog of my insights from the road at www.1001miles.com. You can say I have been obsessed with running since last September when I started this goal.
Having grown up in the New York area, this state has spoiled me as it offers so much more in terms of running! I have become addicted to the sport for over a decade. It is conducive in Oregon because of the temperate mild climate. I have run in Central Park, Texas, Vermont and Boston. You either have to get up really early to beat the terrible humidity or run at night if it cools down enough. My favorite routine running experience is Leif Erickson Road in Forest Park. Having grown up it the city, it still astounds me that I can run in a national forest within an urban environment. I am a working artist and running really opens my mind inspires my paintings.
Elise Wagner, Portland
I have lived in Eugene since 1977. Not all of us are runners. We are ordinary people, just like the song "...living average ordinary lives." It gets to be a little annoying that some people want to label Eugene as a running town when only a small portion of the population participates. I only know of two people who run on an regular basis and they aren't who I would consider close friends. And no, I am not fat. I walk, do pilates, and seem to have a good level of whatever hormone tells us we've had enough to eat.
Karen brings up an interesting criticism. Having grown up in Eugene and never having competitively run (I was a tennis guy myself) I really used to feel some antipathy towards the 'Track Town U.S.A. label.
But then I left Eugene and Oregon for a while, and realized the high proportion of people who actually do run, or jog like Bowerman, compared to other cities especially ones with larger populations.
And even if we discard the hobbyist runners, the number of elite, Olympic-quality running clubs in Eugene is very disproportional to a city of 150,000. That by itself can give the town a certain flavor.
Personally I don't Eugene should be defined by running -- but it can embrace it.
OPB Reporter, on scene in Eugene.
"Personally I don't Eugene should be defined by running"
I'd just add it to the list of descriptives. Eugene is a great city in a bunch of unique ways, and is a very livable city. Track Town, College Town, Emerald City, Grateful Dead North, etc.
I'm not an athlete or much of a fan, but it's an honor to have all these guests in our town. Over 2,000 people have volunteered to help put this event on, some may be athletes but many are not. Most of the volunteers are locals, but I met a couple who are senior citizens from Couer d'Alene, ID who are here for 2 weeks to attend events and also to be volunteers.
"Is the Beaver State particularly suited to the sport?"
At least for duration of the trials let's call our state the Duck State, ok?
(and I even went to Oregon State)
Oregon's state animal is the Beaver, thus the name Beaver State is referring to our entire state, not the college in Corvallis.
Duck is Eugene specific - U of O only. We will never be the Duck State!
Better to use our state fish - the Chinook, use the pun Chinook run, and leave the Civil War alone. The White Stag sign could have read Chinook State - hey there's a compromise!
Point well taken, and from a Beaver, too! I'll change it after the show.
I moved out here 12 years ago and that is when my running started, at the time I could only run one mile, now I have completed 5 marathons and two Hood to Coast races. Running is part of me, it's made me a better person and it has taught me a lot about myself.
In 8th grade 1961 I was training as a javelin guy when our 880 runner missed a meet because of sickness and I had to run in his place. I ran out of gas with a quarter lap to go, turning to molasses, and I have had a hard time trying to even want to run ever since.
But I sure admire those who do.
I am a 51 year old social worker who absolutely loves trail running. I agree with a previous caller that in Oregon we run rain or shine. It is so beautitul to run in the woods and watch the seasons change. The wild flowers are spectacular. Tomorrow I am participating in the annual Cape Mountain 10 mile trail run on the coast. It is a fund raiser for local cross country teams. It is such a fun experience to see trail runners of all ages come together to enjoy nature and running.
The Drake Relays in Des Moines, mentioned a few minutes earlier, are in fact alive and still quite popular. The event regularly draws sell-out crowds and gets plenty of media coverage in and outside of Iowa every year. I don't believe these national running events are any less significant than they were in the 70s, but they seem to have been overshadowed by the big money televised sports that now dominate.
There are lots of recreational distance running events but I've wondered about the possibility of sprint type events; 50, 100, 200, 400, etc, and hurdles for the folks with that type of muscles. Seems like there could be some room for that.
It might draw football players, hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and other such sprint type athletes.
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