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Runners celebrate 50 years of spanning Spencer and Skinner Buttes

Running people.
Brian Bull
Runners in the Butte to Butte 10k race dash away from Spencer Butte Middle School, the starting point.

More than 4,600 people ran shoulder-to-shoulder in the annual “Butte to Butte” race in Eugene Thursday morning.

It’s also the golden anniversary of the Independence Day tradition, with runners—and walkers—traveling the distance between Spencer Butte and Skinner Butte. People could do a 10k, 5k, or 4-mile “Mayor’s Walk”. 

At Thursday's race, many participants wore costumes, including a Lady Liberty and a few in tutus. Others wore vintage t-shirts showing that they’ve done this race for years. 

William Wyckoff is the racing director for Butte to Butte, which is coordinated by Oregon Track Club. He told KLCC that a third of registrants in this year's event were first-time runners. 

“We did celebrate on the 1st of July, twelve individuals that have participated in 40 or more Butte-to-Buttes,” added Wyckoff. “The old and the new combined, that's what makes up the ‘People's Race.’” 

Distant butte with city.
Brian Bull
Spencer Butte as seen from Skinner Butte, with the city of Eugene in between.

Later, at the 5th Street Market, medals and cash prizes were bestowed upon the first male and female runners of each age group who crossed the finish line. Among the early finishers was 25-year-old Noah Rasmussen, who recently came to the Eugene area after living in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“I will probably go get a jog in, cool down the legs, and then I dunno, probably find a beer,” he laughed, when asked what he’d do after finishing the 10k event. 

Rasmussen confessed that it was a punishing event, so he was glad to have put in time to prepare for it by running 10-12 miles daily. 

“Like running that fast downhill, just like pounding the cement? Legs become mush. That first up-and-down, just destroys your legs. It’s tough,” he said.

Organizers said while the weather is expected to be excessively hot through the weekend, all of the Butte to Butte events took place in the early morning, allowing participants to avoid the worst of the heat. 

Butte to Butte marks golden anniversary

41 states and four countries were represented in this year’s event. The last time all 50 states were represented was in 2016, said Wyckoff. And while that didn’t happen this time, he was still pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm. 

“My greatest reflection is just seeing all the smiling faces and people on race day, particularly all the families that come out and do this event together to kick off their celebration of Independence Day.” 

Copyright 2024, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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