We, like many of our readers, have been following the story around the 2017 Portland Marathon closely. It’s not easy to unfold: on one hand you have news reports and social media response that seems to revel in the drama and some hard-to-swallow facts about the race that are off-putting to many, but on the other hand you have the thousands of runners and walkers training for the event, the hundreds of people working hard to plan or recruit volunteers for the aid station they captain, and the economic impact and positive role that a well-run marathon can bring to a city like Portland. In a series of posts over the next few weeks or so, we’ll try to explore these complicated topics from various angles, and we encourage our readers to submit their own letters to Run Oregon (using our Contact Us form), and to weigh in – being respectful of others and avoiding personal attacks, of course – on social media.
With all of the news coverage as to what the Portland Marathon hasn’t done (or is seen as doing “wrong”), it’s easy to overlook the positive steps that the event is taking to recover some of the goodwill it’s enjoyed for decades. One positive news item is the involvement of a new race operations company, Axiom Event Productions. I have actually worked with one of Axiom’s founders in my previous role at OregonLive.com – Brad Nelson, who co-founded the company with Neal Armstrong in 2013, was one of my contacts at Bridge Pedal, and I found him easy to work with and highly competent. Axiom’s role with the Portland Marathon will be to focus on race operations and ensure that runners have a great experience.
Axiom’s services focus on meeting the challenges of large scale event operations, providing the support for excellent staff and volunteer management, and improving the overall participant experience. In other words, they’re helping to make sure that the course for this year and all of the race-day details are the best they can be. The founders of Axiom Event Productions, who both worked in event management prior to starting their own business, have a long history of collaboration with the City of Portland, its agencies, and local businesses. Some of their other events you may have heard of include the Mississippi Street Fair, Portland Sunday Parkways, Shamrock Run and, as mentioned, Bridge Pedal. This is a great step for the Marathon and should go a long way in reassuring runners and walkers that despite the new course and other concerns, their 2017 race day will go smoothly. Nelson, who is already working on a mind-boggling number of details, says, “We are very excited to be part of a Portland’s iconic marathon and are looking forward to renewing the race’s relationship with all runners and supporters.”
So, starting with this post – which is good (the race recognizes that the course, communication, and awards errors of the past few years can’t be repeated), Run Oregon is going to try and put out as much information and sift through as many positions as we can to keep you informed.
We aren’t here to tell you to “support the race and sign up for the 2018 event!” or to tell you to “avoid this race at all costs!” (Although you can find people on social media to fill that role should you so desire.) Instead, we’ll try to present both sides of the story, because it’s not our decision to make. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to support this event … but in order to make that decision, we want to give you as much accurate, actionable information on the topic as we can get our hands on.
Run Oregon was created to share news about running and racing in our area – we try to stay positive, but when the warts of a race as big as the Portland Marathon come to light, we figure we may as well discuss them. So, some of the topics we’ll be covering include:
- The money: Why are registration costs so high? Why does the race director get paid so much?
- The DOJ investigation: What exactly is going on and why is this important to runners?
- The nonprofits: What goes back to the local community and how does this compare to other races/nonprofits?
- The economic impact: What does a race like the Portland Marathon do for the City of Portland and surrounding areas?
- The course and race-day details: How is it created? How are participants kept safe? What support will be there on race day?
Run Oregon invites you to share your opinions with us via our Contact Us form so that we can work them into our upcoming posts. If you have professional experience in one of these areas, or just want to voice your opinion, please write to us! Let us know if it’s okay to include your name with your comment, too. We will be working with Axiom Event Productions to get some information about the course and race-day details, but many of these questions may not be able to be completely answered without additional information from the Portland Marathon (Axiom’s involvement doesn’t extend to the finances for the race). Still, we can look at other events and talk to runners and race directors to help our readers understand the situation better.
We also want your questions – what do you want to know about the race? This could be anything from “When will you know for sure if your permit will be approved?” to “Where on course will there be aid stations?” So, send us those too. And we’ll all keep training for October 8th together.