EUGENE, Ore. — The 8th annual Eugene Marathon kicked off Sunday morning near Hayward Field. Fourty nine states and 17 countries were represented.
Like all the runners stretching and anxiously awaiting for the Eugene Marathon to start, Loren Cushing trained for race day.
“I probably got about 25 miles a week, slowly building up,” said Cushing, who participated in the half-marathon.
Every runner, whether it was the half-marathon or full, came prepared to push their boundaries and spread a message of strength.
“My niece died about in 2001, 8 years old, from a drunk driver and I just kind of remind everyone that stuff like that happens and pay attention to what you’re doing,” said Tim Henshen, a full-marathon runner.
“Breaking down boundaries and doing things I never thought I’d do. I never thought I’d be a runner. I always said, ‘I don’t have a runner’s body, a runner’s mindset.’ But I’m like, ‘You know what? If you run, you’re a runner,'” said Laura Pifer, who participated in the half-marathon.
For cushing, this is his first big race.
“This is the first half marathon. Never did a marathon,” said Cushing.
He had to push a little harder than the other 5,000 racers.
“I wanted to get to the top of the hill and beat the elite runners there and I did,” said Cushing.
Cushing did the 13.1 miles all in a wheelchair.
“Since I was 6 years old and contacted Polio, it’s been important for me to challenge myself,” he said.
Although parts of the course were challenging, he had a fan club to push him through.
“I think those shirts are just awesome. Can you guys put your chests out and show?” Cushing said to his grandchildren who made shirts to show their support.
Those little faces carried him toward the finish line and as he raced toward Hayward Field, the crowd gave him one last surge.
“I’ve heard about the energy that Hayward Field gives on a kick towards the finish line in races and I felt a little of that,” said Cushing.
His training prepared him for that 1 hour and 44 minutes.
“I thought if I got in under 2 hours, I’d be happy,” he said.
But the last push, he didn’t have to train for.
“I want to encourage other wheelchair users to do all they can, and I just encourage anybody in a wheelchair to get out and push somewhere,” Cushing said.