For the first time ever, participants in the Portland Marathon – and its associated Half Marathon – were routed through Inner Southeast Portland neighborhoods this year. It happened on Sunday morning, October 4, to the delight of many – including those who created "Neighborhood Cheer Challenge" teams to compete for recognition.
Not all were delighted: Early morning motorists were surprised to find the westbound Sellwood Bridge travel lanes closed, and many other streets normally used to exit and enter the Inner Southeast neighborhoods closed as well, until past noon – as Marathon participants passed through the Sellwood, Westmoreland, Eastmoreland, and Reed neighborhoods that morning. The route went by Sellwood Park and Westmoreland Park, before heading through the Brooklyn neighborhood and crossing S.E. Powell Boulevard northbound.
Surprisingly, of all the neighborhoods in the city through which the runners traveled, four of the five top vote-getters for "Cheer Challenge" prizes – for cheering on the runners – were in Inner Southeast.
After the race, all of the participants were sent an e-mail ballot, asking them to vote in the "Neighborhood Cheer Challenge" – and the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association took first place. (See the sidebar article by Rita Leonard.)
Also receiving Neighborhood Cheer Challenge trophies, and a $500 gift, were the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association, and the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE). Another Southeast Portland neighborhood, the Buckman Community Association, was also a winner.
Eastmoreland neighbors were happy to learn that their neighborhood had been selected to win a trophy; volunteers along S.E. Reed College Place set out refreshment stations, made large welcome banners, rang cowbells, and cheered on the runners.
When SMILE Transportation Committee Chair Scott Kelly was contacted by the marathon's Jared Rohatinsky about the award, he said he was surprised.
"Even though SMILE didn't officially participate in the 'Marathon Neighborhood Cheer Challenge', and we weren't even listed on the ballots on which the runners voted for the best neighborhood – SMILE was voted one of the best cheer neighborhoods," Kelly remarked. "I'm happy – not just for the donation, but also that so many folks along the route came out to cheer. It sure was fun to watch!"
And, even though the race course didn't actually go through the Foster-Powell neighborhood, they won a Cheer Challenge trophy and cash – quite likely thanks to the members of the energetic "FOPO RUN CLUB", who were stationed at the east end of the Sellwood Bridge.Since, of the runners pressed for an opinion, all said they really liked the new route better than previous routes – even Mayor Wheeler, who participated in the race, made that comment – it should not be a surprise if Inner Southeast is on the route of the Marathon again next year.
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