Rachel Jensen defines what it means to be an Oregon runner. Growing up in Eugene and competing in cross country and track and field for North Eugene High School, Rachel knows all about TrackTown USA. She competed at Lane Community College on an athletic scholarship before transferring to the University of Oregon to pursue a journalism career. She looked around at other universities, but decided staying near her roots was the home for her.
“My love for exercise and the outdoors makes running just as addicting now that I’m done seriously competing,” said Jensen. “And because I can easily become bored running the same old-same old, searching for new, enjoyable places to run not too far from home has become one of my pastimes.”
Jensen will be joining the EDN team to bring you a weekly column on running in Eugene with race tips, training ideas, cool new routes to explore and much, much more.
What’s your background in running? When did you start? Where have you competed?
I started running on my own 6 years ago when I was a freshman in high school. The next year I went out for my high school cross country team on a whim, ended up becoming obsessed with it, and ran track and cross country at North Eugene for three years. After that, I ran cross country and track at Lane Community College for two years on an athletic scholarship and earned All-American for junior colleges in the 1500m, 800m, and 4x400m.
What first got you into running?
When I first started running—before I ever planned on competing—I ran purely for exercise and enjoyment. I think Eugene has such a runner’s-town vibe that everyone—regardless of whether you’re competing or just out for a jog—can catch that runner’s-itch pretty easily and end up get hooked on the sport.
Where is your favorite spot to run in Eugene?
The Willamette Street trailhead on the ridgeline trail system is great. I never would have thought I’d say that, because I used to hate how hilly it was, but now I love it. Running through a forested trail that keeps winding and climbing and descending is so refreshing that I feel like I could go on forever. Also, running that trail at dawn or sunset makes for some really awesome views—lush greenery and golden sunlight through the trees—what more could you want as you’re logging the miles?
What local race are you most looking forward to?
Even though it’s not till the spring, I’m already stoked for the Eugene Marathon because it will be my first marathon. Having only trained for races from 800m to 5k, the marathon itself, as well as the miles needed to train for it, will be a challenging new experience.
What insights will you be giving readers? What will your weekly articles look like?
Lots of my articles will be giving advice on different aspects of running—whether it be running hills, finding a training partner, tips to stay healthy while training—things I’ve learned through experience and excellent coaching. I also plan on including previews and reviews on local races, as well as allowing my readers to follow along with me as I start to train for the Eugene Marathon – which will undoubtedly include new and fun places to run in the Eugene area as I hunt for new routes to keep myself entertained during long runs.