The 2015 Portland Marathon is the 44th annual running of the race, and the 26.2-mile test begins on Sunday at 7 a.m. local time for the thousands of entrants.
Although this race is outside of the World Marathon Majors, it is nevertheless an athletic spectacle worth witnessing if possible. Beautiful scenery through the city and its skyline are a nice complement to the organic glimpses of nature that surround the Portland area.
The course map for the Portland Marathon mixes these elements well and transitions rather seamlessly. PortlandMarathon.org has a layout of the route for both the half and full marathon races in addition to the full schedule and times.
Portland Marathon event director Les Smith outlines the good the race does beyond serving as an outlet for extraordinary athletic accomplishment, per the pre-race newsletter:
Once again we welcome participants from all 50 states and about 30 countries. Our Event continues to be the largest three day convention in Portland. And it will bring in over $250,000 in tax money to our City and County as well as having an estimated 10 to 12 million dollar impact to our area economy.
[...] All but about 5% of the money we receive stays in the Portland area. We buy our shirts, trophies, and either buy or rent all of the other needed products from suppliers in this area which are used to produce the Event. And we return real value to our Community as well. For example, last year over $275,000 went back to the Community including nonprofits, service clubs, school activity projects and school athletic teams. Indeed, we also make donations and grants to our volunteer groups as well.
As the race's official website also indicates, there are only 21 turns on the entire course, with only one at 90 degrees or sharper. This allows the runners to focus on the task at hand with a little more ease and avoid having to negotiate any sharp turns, which prove trying the longer the competition goes on.
Other good news is that Mother Nature appears to be cooperating for the time being. Portland's forecast for Sunday shows no chance of precipitation, per Weather.com.
But that doesn't mean the Portland Marathon course is without its adversity or challenges beyond the sheer distance to travel. Numerous elevation changes will keep runners on their toes and require considerable resilience, particularly on the inclined surfaces past the midway point.
Everyone starts on SW 4th Avenue at Taylor, and the first five miles of the course wind through downtown Portland. Then the action shifts to Waterfront Park for the next two miles, which offers the runners a bit of a reprieve following a 115-foot elevation change in the first few miles.
Just as participants cruise into the last half of their 26.2-mile goal, the most difficult part of the Portland Marathon course presents itself in the form of a gradual, approximately four-mile climb up along NW St. Helens Road and Highway 30.
St. John's Bridge is the major landmark to watch for thereafter. It serves as the apex of a 150-foot rise in elevation at around mile 17. After that aforementioned ascent and crossing of the bridge, though, it's all downhill from there on N. Willamette Boulevard for the most part.
Save for the Broadway Bridge crossing, the home stretch of the Portland Marathon offers the chance to finish strong and swift. The conclusion to Sunday's epic jaunt winds up right near where the journey begins at SW 3rd Avenue at Justice Center.
For those in it to win it, the stakes are all a runner could ask for. Japan's Hiromi Yokoyama set the women's course record with a time of two hours, 36 minutes, 40 seconds all the way back in 1991, while the men's mark came from Germany's Uli Steidl at 2:17.21 in 1997, per Arrs.net.
Seeing a new course record in any of the races would only enhance what is already a unique experience at the Portland Marathon. No matter what goes on in that regard, the philanthropic spirit of Rose City will be on full display amid an exotic, exceptional all-around event.