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The Portland Marathon

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ARTICLES

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Route 16 Running and Walking
6745 Kimball Drive, Gig Harbor

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

JUDY FISHER (3)

 

 

By Judy Fisher

 

10/9/16 – Portland

Portland Marathon 2016 was the 45th year of this prestigious marathon. Participants were from all 50 states and about 25 countries. It has been my go-to marathon for 14 years. The 2016 marathon was a memorable one for many reasons.

The Good: The marathon brings in over $250,000 in tax money to Portland and the county. The local community receives donations and grants from the marathon. Event necessities come from local suppliers. It makes an estimated 10 to 12 million dollar impact to the area economy. It is truly a community event.

Over 4500 volunteers participate in insuring that the full and half marathoners have efficient, safe and fun races. These special people are indispensable and dedicated folks (pirates, Chinese dragon and belly dancers, oh my!).

All registrants are kept apprised of the upcoming marathon events from the time they sign up. Scheduled events, such as the Race Director’s College, Expo, Packet Pickup, Kids’ Fun Run and the marathon/half are all detailed. Bib numbers are sent out many months prior to the event. The color-coded bib is very large, printed with the participant’s name, starting corral, emergency name and phone number, with a map of the start on the reverse.

From the singing of the National Anthem at the start and continuing sporadically throughout the race, music could be heard. The drumming group was especially rousing.

If you like marathon bling, this is your marathon. Roses, tree seedlings, medals, pendants and coins await finishers.

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The Bad: Like most big city marathons, this one is costly ($135 six months in advance).

The host hotel, The Hilton, had a two night minimum (we stayed one night in Vancouver – inconvenient, but less pricey). The marathon does not allow transferring from the full down to the half, unless one re-registers and pays the new entry fee. Trains pass through the route, but have never delayed my race.  Most of the first half of the race travels through the industrial area next to train tracks, then along a busy highway – disappointing in such a beautiful city as Portland.

Fall is seen by many as the best time of year for marathons. But, as all runners realize, fall can bring unpredictable weather. This marathon hosted a soul-sucking DOWNPOUR, with light winds and 55 degrees. With no bag check at the finish, runners risked hypothermia walking back to their vehicles or hotels. Lightweight jackets and finishers’ shirts were provided to all finishers, which helped if the runners could maneuver their cold, stiff hands into these articles of clothing.

The Ugly: The first place finishers were to receive awards at the finish. The first place male, Matthew Palilla (34), of Bend, crossed the finish at 2:36:24, unnoticed (no award presented)! The third place finisher was awarded first place, which led to some confusion. But eventually it was all straightened out. Our own Kate Landau, 40, of Tacoma, was first female in 2:38:45.

Many of the marathoners (after the first corral) ran past a turn because there was no race monitor at this point, thus extending the route ½ mile. A heart-felt apology was issued from the Event Director. Runners who wanted a finish time correction were instructed to inform the marathon organizers.

The Portland Marathon adjusted my finish time to account for the 1/2 mile addition to the marathon. I am surprised. How often does it happen that finish time adjustments are made after races? I went from a finish chip time of 4:33:43 to 4:28:29, over a 5 minute difference! How nice!  No wonder I like this marathon.
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Judy Fisher

 

Would I recommend the Portland Marathon to others? Yes, definitely. I believe we, as runners, do not fully grasp the intricacies of organizing a race of this magnitude (over 7000 finishers in the marathon and half combined). One mistake can mar a race’s reputation for years.

But I believe the Portland Marathon earnestly tries to produce a high quality, fair and safe race for all. Errors were made and hopefully will be corrected in the ensuing years in the hope of improving the runners’ experiences. We owe the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, spectators, City of Portland  and even fellow runners a debt of gratitude for pulling together to give us our unforgettable day in the sun (er, rain). Thank you all.

 

Editor’s note: Judy should now appear three times on the Portland Marathon’s record listing of the top five times for female 70-74. She is also listed once on the female 65-69 listing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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