26 Mile Party People
The Eugene Marathon's mini music festival
BY ADRIENNE VAN DER VALK
For most people, the thought of running 26 miles does not inspire an urge to celebrate. Marathon enthusiasts, however, are a special breed: dedicated athletes who find deep personal satisfaction from pounding the pavement for hours on end. Eugene, being a town that likes to both run and party, has evolved its marathon's model since reviving the race last year. The second annual Eugene Marathon on May 4 will be a festive combination of athleticism and the arts.
Entertainment coordinator Kris Orlowski attended in 2007 and saw something special in the way Eugene showed up to support its runners. "I played this event a year ago. They had a really grass roots thing going on, some singer-songwriters at various locations. I talked to the woman in charge about how it could be a really cool thing with some promotion. It got way bigger than we expected it to be!"
Orlowski lives in Seattle and has cultivated relationships with performers in all areas of the music industry though his work with for Seattle Sound magazine. He is also a musician in his own right, leading a jazzy roots-rock trio that will play the Wells Fargo Finish Line Main Stage this year. His challenge, he says, was to create a lineup that would appeal to the wide variety of supporters and running enthusiasts who will be both watching and participating in either the marathon, half marathon, 5K or kids' marathon.
"We had to come up with an eclectic group of performers who will appeal to a diverse audience, both old and young," says Orlowski. "On a small scale we're putting on a music festival. I tried to hit across the board by choosing mainstream music but featuring independent talent."
The marathon's entertainment offerings this year include representatives from the rock, pop, jazz, funk, hip hop and world music genres. Local jazz favorites Eleven Eyes and former Eugene electro-pop rocker DoublePlusGood will add to the flavor of the day, as will reggae artist Adrian Xavier, percussive powerhouse Samba Já and Portland garage rock duo Catfight! In addition to the finish line stage (at Autzen Stadium), there will be up to 20 performers stationed regularly throughout the course.
"It is as much for the runners as the people watching the runners. We want to provide that extra amount of excitement; it pumps them up and keeps them going," says Orlowski, who notes that his vision is based on such famously successful events as the San Diego marathon. "We don't want to take away from the event itself; this is a running event and we are on the backburner as far as what is being showcased. But this a way to make it more of a community event and give artists a chance to give back and provide more of a draw."
For a complete listing of performers and schedule for the May 4 Eugene Marathon, visit www.eugenemarathon.com/entertainment