Race Preview: The Portland Marathon


***Only 36 Spots remaining, so you better sign up fast!***

The Portland Marathon, which will be held on October 5th, is one of the most coveted races of the season. For more than 40 years, the Portland Marathon has been earning a reputation as being one of the most memorable marathons in the Pacific Northwest. Runner’s World has labeled it as the “Best race in October”, as well as “most walker-friendly marathon in the US,” and so far it appears they intend to hold onto that label this year as well. If you’ve been on the fence about attending this year’s event, here’s a few reasons why YOU should be one of the few people filling the remaining entry slots:

The Starting Line

At 7 am, participants of both the full marathon and half marathon distance will begin together at SW 4th and Taylor in downtown Portland, and finish just three and a half blocks southeast on SW 3rd Ave. between Main and Madison, in front of the Justice Center and alongside Chapman Park. This scenic course will give each runner an opportunity to see the intricate beauty of the city of Portland in a way that is often missed through the daily tasks that divert our attention elsewhere.

According to the PM website, the course “includes the scenic riverfront, historic Old Town and various residential neighborhoods. Runners are treated to broad panoramas of the entire city the waterfront, a 3-mile bluff on the east side of Portland, and a dramatic view and crossing of the St. Johns Bridge, one of the most beautiful suspension bridges in the world.” They also pride themselves of minimizing turns and narrow streets, which makes the course accessible to participants of all levels of athleticism and abilities. Worried about elevation changes? Don’t be! This is a relatively flat course, with a few gradual inclines that eventually turn into those much appreciated downhill slopes, giving you the opportunity to finish strong with a cheerful smile (or exhaustion depending on your distance) on your face!

Boston Qualifier

Per their website, “The Portland Marathon in beautiful Portland, Oregon, is the standard marathon distance – 26 miles, 385 yards. The course is USAT&F sanctioned and certified. It is also certified for Boston Marathon qualification. The course and all records will be listed with U.S.A. Track & Field Cert. #OR12023LB (see certification here). The course has also been sanctioned, measured and certified by the Association of International Marathons (AIMS). In 1983, the Portland Marathon became one of the first U.S. Marathons to be part of the AIMS circuit.”

Aid Stations

One of the more interesting things I’ve learned from talking to other runners, is that I’m not the only person who despises my hydration pack. More often then not, I spend the first mile or two fiddling with trying to get it to sit in the just right spot, in hopes of keeping it from bouncing everywhere and spilling droplets of water all over my backside. With that in mind, I often scroll through information given on a race to find out how abundant (or lacking) the aid stations are expected to be. The Portland Marathon race directors must have read my mind! Aid stations will be located less than every 2 miles (apx. 19 stations) throughout the course, and will feature water as well as replacement drinks. This year, the marathon will be serving Ultima Replenisher, which is listed as a mineral replacement. Gels will not be available at the stations this year, however, there will be roughly 5 or 6 stations offering gummy bears for those of you looking for a little energy boost. Even if you chose to bring your own gels and tote them in your belts or sports bras (yes, I’ve resorted to even THAT to avoid my hydration pack before), there will be plenty of water to wash them down with during your race.

Course Entertainment

Are you worried about hitting that mental “block” that so many runners experience during a marathon? It looks like the Portland Marathon has that covered as well! Last year, at over 50 locations throughout the course, over 70 groups of entertainers worked diligently to keep runners block at bay, and keep smiles parading through the streets of our fair city. In past years this has included rock, jazz and country bands, a brass fanfare, street performers, a mandolin orchestra, a jug band, two 18 piece big bands, a dixieland band, aerobic dancers and numerous high school cheer-leading squads. Want to know who will be entertaining runners this year? Be there and find out!


Don’t pretend the swag doesn’t interest you….I KNOW better! Oh, I’m sure you tell your non-running friends that you sign up for a particular race because of the beauty of the trail, or the serenity of the countryside, or the challenging hills provided in the course…but we all know that after you’ve checked out the heading on elevation changes, you secretly scroll right past everything else to THIS heading! It’s ok…..we all did it. You won’t be disappointed! Among the “goodies” for this year’s race, each participant and finisher will receive a collectible poster, souvenir publication, a performance-grade finisher’s shirt, mint-struck proof medal, challenge coin, intricately detailed pendant (miniature of the medal), as well as a genuine Northwest tree seedling to take home and plant in commemoration of your achievement!


Awards will be presented to the top 6 finishers in each 5 year age division – Male and Female – in the Marathon and Half Marathon. Wheelchair awards are given to the top 3 finishers, Men and Women, in the Marathon only. Clydesdale and Pump & Run awards are given to the top 3 Men and Women – 39 and Under and 40+ – in each weight class (5 weight classes for Men and 3 for Women) in the Marathon only.  Nordic Walk and Race Walk awards are given to the top 3 finishers, Men and Women, 39 and Under and 40+ in the Half Marathon only.


So, if the amazing and beautiful Boston qualifying course, 70+ course entertainers, aid stations at every 2 miles, massage therapists, professional photographs, and abundance of swag can’t convince you to give this marathon a try, then save the last few openings for those who are CLAMMERING to get in! This marathon is stacking up to be the runners event of the year, and no running plaque would be complete without the Portland Marathon medal swinging delicately on your wall.


Cost: $145 (full marathon…only a few spots left!), 10k Walk (non-competitive) $40






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