This summer, the eighth annual Eugene Marathon will cross paths with the IAAF World Junior Championships at historic Hayward Field.
The convergence of these two events is designed to provide a rare opportunity to connect elite and recreational runners with passionate track and field fans and the outstanding young athletes that will be performing.
The pinnacle arrives on Sunday, July 27.
On that date, thousands of runners will participate in the Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon, where they can literally run in the footsteps of legends such as Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and Ashton Eaton. The final 200 meters of the race are held on the track at Hayward Field.
Just a few hours later, the final session of the IAAF World Junior Championships gets underway, with the world’s best track and field athletes under the age of 20 competing for medals in nine different events.
It’s a celebration of running unlike any other.
Given the magnitude of these two events, one could be forgiven if they were feeling nervous if they haven’t already scoped out a housing plan during that climatic weekend in TrackTown USA.
Not to worry.
According to Kari Westlund, President and CEO of Travel Lane County, the destination marketing firm for this area, there is still plenty of room at the inn.
A quick survey of accommodations in Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, Creswell and Junction City for Saturday, July 26 – which should be the busiest night of the week – indicates that there are hundreds of hotel rooms currently available, with nine properties showing 70 percent or greater availability. Others are listed at 20 percent availability.
And those numbers don’t take into account online vacation rentals or home stays.
“We have availability,” Westlund said. “In fact, we’ve always been able to accommodate event participants and spectators. Typically, we always have some rooms that are open, and we have more rooms in the area than we did in 2008.”
With an inventory of hotel rooms in the greater Eugene-Springfield metro area that routinely accommodates crowds of 60,000 for Oregon football games, and the past two U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, there should be space for everybody. Nearby communities like Creswell and Cottage Grove offer a short commute and great options as well.
“If people need assistance, they are always welcome to call our office,” Westlund said. “We do anticipate some flux happening right up until the events as some rooms will be released and rebooked, but we’ve always been able to help everybody looking for a place to stay.”
Travel Lane County has two phone numbers listed as visitor hotlines: (541) 484-5307 and 800-547-5445. Hours of operation for each are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, they can check out the latest information on local hotel availability at http://www.eugenecascadescoast.org/marathon/stay/.
At the past two U.S. Olympic Trials, Westlund said some people chose to book rooms outside of the immediate area, in places like Albany, Corvallis, Salem and Roseburg.
However, that probably won’t be necessary this summer.
One reason is the creation of an “athletes’ village,” in which 2,500 athletes and team officials associated with the IAAF World Junior Championships will be housed in residence halls on the University of Oregon campus. That will help free up rooms for the Eugene Marathon runners, their support groups and visiting track and field fans.
Westlund can’t wait to see how TrackTown USA handles the intersection of those two extraordinary events as it rolls out the welcome mat.
“I am really looking forward to greeting folks from all over the world,” she said. “I think all of us in the local community, as well as our visitors, are going to find these two events to be an exceptional experience, and if anyone needs assistance with any element of their stay, we are here to help.”