EUGENE, Ore. -- The city of Eugene and distance running seem to go hand in hand. TrackTown USA boasts miles upon miles of running trails and has produced world class distance runners like Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp. Even though these big names are attributed to Eugene, Richard Maher knew something was missing ... and he wasn't the only one.
"My nephew called me from Boston and said why doesn't Eugene have a marathon," said Maher.
Maher immediately started planning an event after that phone call in 2005.
"His story is I guess I called him back the next day and gave him 20 things to do to get started," said Maher.
Two years later 4,600 runners ran in the inaugural Eugene Marathon. The race quickly gained national recognition.
"The first year we were named one of the ten races that had started in the previous five years," Maher said.
Six years later Maher prepares the Eugene Marathon for the biggest turnout yet. More than 9,000 people are expected to hit the pavement in this weekends events, 3,100 in the marathon alone.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I think it would grow that fast and be as exciting," said Maher. "People love to run in Eugene."
Maher ran his first marathon in 1996, when he was 47-years-old.
"Then I since have run 20 marathons and one ultra," said Maher.
A knee surgery recently derailed his training, but Maher is making a comeback. Next year he hopes he won't just be organizing the event and also run in it.
"I want to run my own marathon," said Maher. "I definitely want to run it."