There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones that like to run marathons and the ones that like to watch. Let us preface that there's nothing wrong with being either of those! With the Eau Claire Marathon being just a few weeks away (April 27-28, 2024), and while the runners have been prepping and training for some time now, we thought we'd help out the cheer squad who plan to watch from the sidelines by pointing out some of the best places to catch your runner(s) along the race route. Grab your cowbells and motivational posters - here are the 2023 race routes for the full marathon, half marathon, and 5K & 10K races, and 8 of the best viewing spots along the full marathon route.
1. The Starting Line
The starting line will be at the intersection of Forest St. and Madison St. in downtown Eau Claire (near Phoenix Park). Come share your first words of encouragement and see your runner(s) start off their race strong!
2. The Finish Line
We know - we're skipping straight to the finish line, but you're going to want to be there and we need to make sure you know where to go! The finish line will be on Graham St. near Pablo Center at the Confluence. You'll get to be there to celebrate their major feats and maybe even witness the ringing of the personal record bell!
3. 1st Avenue or Owen Park
Owen Park is located along 1st Avenue near the UW-Eau Claire Campus. This spot approximately makes mile 3. While it may be early on in the race, Owen Park is a beautiful space to set up your lawn chairs underneath some shade and spend some downtime before moving on to the next cheering spot. Pro tip: if you have a portable hammock, this is the place to bring it.
4. West Grand Avenue Plaza
Not too far north of Owen Park is West Grand Avenue. This plaza will not only be another great option to catch mile 3, but it's also ideal for doing some light shopping. Stop into Token Jewelry to browse at some beautiful handmade jewelry. Not to mention, the rest of downtown Eau Claire is connected to this spot via the Grand Ave. Bridge so, many more restaurants and shopping options lie across the Chippewa River!
5. Riverview Park
Riverview Park will be the place to go to catch miles 8, 9,10 and 11. This beautiful park is tucked away on the north side of Eau Claire and offers some of the best scenic views of the Chippewa River.
6. Chippewa Valley Airport
Not too far from Riverview Park is the Chippewa Valley Airport. After taking a peek at the race route, you'll see that this area marks the halfway point for the full marathon. 26th Avenue near the airport is a good stretch to yell out "YOU CAN DO IT! KEEP GOING!" to your runners.
7. Barstow Street
Barstow Street is where the downtown action is happening. Barstow begins the final 3 miles of the race, and it is the perfect spot to kill some time while waiting for the runners to arrive. Check out the shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, and other attractions in downtown Eau Claire while preparing to cheer on your racers in their final stretch.
8. UW-Eau Claire Campus
Okay, this spot is WILD! The energy here is palpable. They call this spot on UW-Eau Claire's campus the "Blugold Mile". Students, staff and campus organizations come out here to support runners on their last stretch of the race and seriously... it's unlike any other spot on the race route! Don't let this campus spot keep you from joining in on the fun if you're not a UWEC student/staff member. We're not exaggerating... you're going to want to be here.