More than pulses will be racing on the first Sunday of October.
Twelve thousand stamping feet are set to pound the pavement here on Oct. 6 — heralding a new era for the Portland Marathon nearly a half-century after it was founded.
A new map, new organizers and a chance to put the race back on steady footing after a period of tumult and public scandal has ignited elements within the Rose City's running community.
"I'm really looking forward to running this one," said Tanya Corkum, a homegrown Portlander who is active in several area running clubs. "I love our city, and I think showcasing our city is going to be more fun for the people running the marathon."
Originally founded by the Oregon Road Runners Club in 1972, the Portland Marathon trotted out multiple routes in its early years, before settling on the circuit that crossed the Willamette River on the St. Johns Bridge after a notorious slog on Highway 30.
This year, about 6,000 participants will start the 26.2-mile trek at 7:10 a.m. on Naito Parkway near Southwest Salmon Street. Stragglers will cross the finish line at the same spot no later than 1:45 p.m.
Eric Switzer, who is running the half marathon, hopes to beat that time. "It was my terror of being one of the people who had to be picked up by the sag wagon that prompted me to really train," he said.
This year's marathon is a mix of business and pleasure for Switzer, a vice president at Oregon Health & Science University. OHSU is the presenting sponsor, and hopes to use the Portland Marathon to highlight their new partnership with Tuality and Adventist medical centers.
On the big day, runners will explore downtown environs and Nob Hill, charge across the Broadway Bridge for a brief circuit of the Rose Quarter, take the Burnside Bridge for stroll of the esplanade and Central Eastside, buzz the students at Reed College, and then glide across the Sellwood Bridge before taking Macadam Avenue back home.
Though traffic and parking disruptions are inevitable (see sidebar), organizers are promising locals a runner's high, not road rage.
"There is no other place in the world as inspiring — some people might say as spiritual — as a marathon finish line," said Jared Rohatinsky, CEO of the Utah-based race firm Brooksee.
The company, which operates the Mt. Hood Marathon and eight other competitions through its REVEL label, says the race will introduce an international audience to the city's brand of "weirdness." And yes, that does mean Voodoo Doughnuts.
Catering will include those sugary confections, plus Salt & Straw ice cream and treats from Franz Bakery. The medal and shirt given to runners was sourced by Leslie Jordan, a homegrown apparel company. Rohatinsky says there will be 1,500 people volunteering or working on the day of the marathon, including roadside entertainment from the Unipiper, pirates, llamas and alpacas.
"Anyone can put on a race and give out cotton t-shirts and a banana," Rohatinsky said. "We try to give runners a better experience. Something they'll talk about for a long, long time."
The 2019 Portland Marathon will impact traffic in different parts of the city than years' past.
Stretches of a number of major thoroughfares will be closed to all vehicle traffic until the last runner has crawled past, including Naito Parkway, Broadway, West Burnside Street, Northwest Overton Street, Southwest Fourth Avenue, Southeast Water Avenue, Southeast Willamette Avenue, Southeast 22nd Avenue, Reed College Place and Sellwood Boulevard.
Cars will be turned back a block before reaching the track.
"No parking" signs will be enforced from 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 through 2 p.m. on Sunday, and authorities say all cars left in posted areas will be towed. Residents and business owners with driveways blocked by the race route are advised to park elsewhere if they plan on using their car during the marathon. Motorists will not be allowed to pull out of blocked driveways during the race.
Towed cars can be recovered by calling 503-823-0044.
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