Mile 20. The distance at which many runners hit “the wall,” thanks to science. It’s possible to have a great race and never hit a wall … it’s also possible to find $50 on your long run. But there’s something we want to get out in the open, because we know our readers can do anything – especially with the right mental preparation. That something is Mile 20 on the new Portland Marathon course.
The hill during mile 20 isn’t that bad, when run by itself. It’s not the steepest section on course, nor the longest hill. It’s only about 50 feet of gain, but the section on SE Reedway between SE 22nd and Milwaukee Ave is what I’d call “a stinker.”
The hill goes up, flattens out over an intersection, then goes up again two more times before topping out with a right turn onto Milwaukee. It’s a hill I suggest anyone running the Portland Marathon this year climb at least once before October 6th, because it has the potential to suck the wind out of your sails. While the flats on the intersections might seem like a reprieve, they actually just accentuate the steepness of the inclines. It’s also good to have an idea of what to expect to see on the course.
There’s a silver lining, though.
This being mile 20, I’m hoping that a ton of spectators select this location as the place to cheer for their family and friends. Spread the word – “Hey race fans! Spectators can wait on SE Bybee and SE 19th, just before Mile 14, then run on over to Mile 15 on Bybee and SE 22nd. From there, while the participants sock away miles 16-20, you’ve got time to make it up to SE Reedway and cheer your runner(s) on again.”
For spectators to get there, I suggest getting off Highway 99 onto Tacoma and then heading north, to find neighborhood parking.
And if they need a more delicious place to wait for their runner, may I suggest Coco Donuts, just past Mile 21? They’ll open at 7a on that Sunday and are located at 4730 SW Milwaukee.