The Portland Marathon – 26.2 and then a little more… – October 9, 2016

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”

-Bill Bowerman


Lindsay led the charge from our home in Truckee up to the Portland Marathon. We were a crew consisting of John and Colin from Reno, Lindsay and myself from Truckee, as well as Mel and Nate who came down from Seattle.

John, Colin, Lindsay and Mel. Wet, cold and ready to run.
Final moments pre run.

The day of the race was cold and  wet with rolling waves of rain making its way through downtown Portland. The forecast had fluctuated between minimal intermittent rain and a more dreary proposal of rain all day long; the morning of the run it seemed the weather had decided on the latter and we settled in for a wet run.

Before dawn, in the rain. This is the moment in every marathon where you can look out at hundreds of shivering, anxious-looking people thinking, “Why the hell did I agree to do this?”

We conservatively placed our group in the “E” or the 5th corral that left the downtown Portland starting line in staggered waves. Light rain would give way to slightly heavier rain, but some degree of precipitation persisted through the entire race.

Ready to run.
…and we’re off! An early, wet start to the race.

Our goal was to run negative splits, meaning run the second half of the race faster than the first half, and we were successful in that goal. We along with many others around us were confused by the apparent distance discrepancy between our GPS devices and the stated distance we had traveled on the course, it seemed like we had run 1/2 mile further than the course was giving us credit for. It didn’t really make sense…

Good morning!
Preparing to give our shirts to Nathan.

Our crew stayed together, trying to maintain a slightly slower, more sustainable pace; I mean, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, right? The rain was persistent and soaked us to the core. I always tend to have relatively warm body temp when running but in this race the cold rain wore me down and I was chilled!

Nearing mile 11 where the half marathoner runners split from the full marathon runners.

Keeping with my marathon tradition, I was given a small beer at about mile 13 and Colin and I both enjoyed one. (I also drank a beer at mile 24 at the 2015 California International Marathon and at my first marathon, the 2008 Grandma’s Marathon, in Duluth, MN. It’s a tradition now.)

Keeping with our goal and pacing strategy, we ran at a conservative 10:00 minute mile pace until around mile 16 when John and I started accelerating up the St. Johns Bridge and ahead towards the finish. Lindsay and Colin continued together for another few miles and glommed on to the 4:25 Red Lizzard pacing group. Near University of Portland Lindsay had an impulsive moment and grabbed a piece of Captain Crunch VooDoo doughnut from a spectator.

Near mile 24, Mel found us on the course after running the half marathon and ran with Lindsay for a bit, and motivated her to finish strong.

I finished my race in strong fashion (for me) sprinting through downtown Portland wondering if the finish line was around each corner. John then Lindsay came sprinting across the finish just behind me and Colin not long after. In the constant rain I had a difficult time stopping the GPS tracker on my cell phone. Collectively we had quite a few discrepancies comparing our individual results against the official race results. We were using different devices and programs through the race (iPhone, Strava, Garmin) and weren’t sure where the error might be. I was confident my race time was faster than that listed from the official Portland Marathon but I was primarily proud to have finished and with negative splits from the first to the second half.

Hats off to every fan that cheered us on and every volunteer that helped us throughout the race. Every funny sign and tiny cup of water was so greatly appreciated.

A few days later, after arriving home, we came to find out that most of the runners (including our group) had inadvertently ran off course and covered an additional 1/2 mile! So that explained our GPS discrepancy…  Evidently between the 2nd and 3rd corral of runners a commuter train was allowed to pass, and as runners resumed, they went off course adding distance. Some runners are livid about the mistake and I’m sure at least someone didn’t get to go to the Boston Marathon as a result. Regardless, I had a great time in Portland. We all ran strong races, all PR’ed our previous efforts and have bragging rights that we completed the Portland Ultra Marathon (Ultra is technically any distance over 26.2 miles)!

Colin looking wet and satisfied.

Check it out:

Portland TV News – “Portland Marathon Route Mistake”

Run Oregon Blog – “What happened with the Portland Marathon course anyways?”


Photography from Portland:

Burnside, China Town
Willamette River, Portland, Oregon


Saturday Market
Saturday Market
OHSU Gondola
Steele Bridge
Artsy owl







Fall colors in Portland on Monday, the day after race day… great weather.
Sunrise on Portland.
Sunset, landing in Reno.



Add yours →

  1. October 15, 2016 — 5:46 pm

    Wow, reading this makes me really appreciate your & Lindsay’s accomplishment! Great job with writing & photos Ben!!! 💝 Mom

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Great stuff!
    Wonderful pictures. Allow us to see the beauty of Portland; “sort of” feel the agony & ecstasy of completing a marathon.

    Much Thanks,


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