After four days of some of the world’s finest track and field at Hayward Field in Eugene, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials enter a 24-hour break. But that doesn’t mean the running must also come to halt.
The action on the track is a significant but small slice of the great running happening in Eugene, which extends long before and beyond the Trials.
It’s difficult to tell whether Eugene has built the thousands of habitual runners who call it home or if the runners have created a city tailored to them.
Regardless, Eugene is a runner’s paradise. It boasts a substantial running infrastructure of historic routes and dedicated paths. Take the 24-hour break from Olympic qualifying, find a trail and pound out a few miles.
Here are three of the extraordinary, even if better-known, running routes in the Emerald City.
This 4-mile loop is tops if you’re looking to give your knees a break. The trail named for Oregon track royalty Steve Prefontaine is padded with soft mulch, perfect for easy gliding.
With numerous entry points, Pre’s Trail is accessible from many points throughout Eugene. The loop offers a dynamic look and feel. It passes through what feels like deep woods near Alton Baker Park, open fields of tall grass and along the water. If that wasn’t enough, Pre’s Trail offers an imposing view of Autzen Stadium, home of Oregon Ducks football, at sunset.
If you plan to frequent Pre’s Trail, be sure to pack extra socks — your legs will be left covered in red dust from the mulch.
Amazon And Rexius Trails
The fact any place has more than one dedicated, miles-long mulch trail within city limits is enough to make even the casual runner drool.
Amazon Trail, also padded with soft wood mulch, travels north and south on the southwest side of the University of Oregon’s campus along the Amazon Creek. It connects to the Rexius Trail, which, added together, make for a 4.5-mile loop.
If you’re looking for bonus distance, connect to Hilyard Street, which can take you north all the way to the Ruth Bascom Bike Trail along the Willamette. The bold (some call them ultramarathoners) can even cross the river to Pre’s Trail.
Mount Pisgah Arboretum
More adventurous spirits can take the trip 15 minutes or so out of Eugene for an alternative running experience. While Pre, Amazon and Rexius can make a runner feel away from it all at times, Mount Pisgah Arboretum actually is a bit further removed.
Mount Pisgah features more than 17 miles of hilly trails through woods and tall grass without as much noise from cars. The gravel paths are not quite the same softness as Pre, Amazon and Rexius, but are a bit easier than sidewalks.
But for anyone trying to pound the pavement, Eugene’s streets are plenty friendly. One of the more enjoyable parts of staying there is the running community that lives there full-time. These trails, the streets and sidewalks of Eugene are well-traveled pretty much any hour of the day. With Eugene comes a lot of running — and with a lot of running comes a great deal of camaraderie.
If you’re visiting for Olympic Trials, drink it in and meet some runners. They may let you in on their favorite not-so-well-known routes.
OPB’s Shirley Chan contributed reporting.