Race Preview: 2015 MLK Dream Run

The 2015 MLK Dream Run is back in the North Portland streets this upcoming August 2. Now in its 5th year, the event features a 15k, 10k, and 5k. This year is promising some changes to a very  worthwhile event. I ran this event in 2014 and really appreciated a lot about it. The course was super unique and took on some historical North Portland neighborhoods and the atmosphere and pre/post-race festivities were on point. It also benefits the NNEBA Fellows, a program for 18-26 year old entrepreneurs.The course description from their website:

10k & 15k-ers get ready for an expansive journey through the Soul of Portland as you hit the streets you will journey through the artistic Alberta Arts communities, beautiful Irvington and Peninsula Parks, past cobbler communities, business nodes quaint neighborhoods like Russell and Stanton, Kerby and Rosa Parks. A special challenge for these two courses will be the steeply winding Mississippi Hill that begins at the bottom of NE Russell and Mississippi and ends at the top of the beginning of the popular shopping area full of unique boutiques.

5K-ers will have the chance to move through a diverse area that includes urban scapes weaving through the historic grounds near Jefferson High School and Portland Community College on through the beautiful Peninsula Park connecting to Rosa Parks Blvd moving back to MLK Jr. Blvd and the finish area.

Last year’s event had some great pieces to it. From my review:

North Portland does not seem to be a real hot bed of race activity, though they do have some amazing cultural areas, great parks, and cool neighborhoods begging to be ran through. This race incorporated all of those and offered three distances to take it all in. Overall, I appreciated and truly loved the cool course. There were a A LOT of street crossings along the route, but I luckily did not have much issue with traffic. There were some police and volunteer activity to stop of slow cars at a few of the major intersections, but it would have been impossible to have someone at every crossing. I just did my due diligence in checking both ways before venturing out.  It was a little nerve-wracking crossing MLK Blvd without an escort, but luckily I didn’t have any real issues.

However, there were some concerns that I relayed as well:

After passing over I-5 and hitting Interstate Ave, I caught up to the runner ahead of me as we slowed to a stop. I was concerned. Did we miss something? Are we idiots? However, as 3 other runners came in behind us, it became evident that something was more amiss. We all had a little gathering and I ventured a guess that we missed a turn somehow, as we were already at mile 8 and I knew we still had to complete the loop. Sure enough, when we hit the same volunteer at Kerby (albeit running from the opposite direction now), other 15k runners were turning in for their second loop.  As a result, we were left playing a game of catch-up and knowing we were going to have an extended run by the end of the race. The 5 of us bonded over a 11.3 mile race – and in the spirit of Dr. King, we agreed that it was better to let it go and know that our mileage totals for August were already off to a better start than we anticipated going in! I also spoke with another runner in the refreshment line who I recognized as being much further ahead of me. He admitted to feeling as if he was misdirected at a different location, as he ended up running 10 miles.

After the event, the race acknowledged some of their issues and reached out directly to us with a vow to make changes. Their volunteers are going to be stationed correctly and more knowledgeable of the course.

And the best part of my experience will be back once again – they will still have delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and the winner will still win their weight in beer (or non-alcoholic beverage)!  We here at Run Oregon are hopeful that this race lays heavily on its positives and changes some (VERY) fixable things. Give this race a chance if you have an opening on your racing calendar!

MLK Dream Run (Portland)

When: 7a

Where: 4943 NE MLK Blvd.

Register: Online here; $65 for 15k, $55 for 10k, $40 for 5k

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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