First Run 2014 – Portland, OR – Jan 1, 2014

I logged 319 running miles in 2013, which is a pretty serious drop from 700+ in 2012, but injuries and moving cross country had a lot to do with that.

For the third year in a row I started the year off with some mileage as soon as I could, a 5K that started at midnight.  For the second year in a row I’d be running the midnight race with Lisa although this time it was in Portland!

The race started at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland about a block off the riverfront.  We got there about 10:30 to enjoy some of the pre-party.  They had a DJ spinning tunes and had some snack foods for us.  Despite having space heaters it was outdoors and it was COLD! We were ready to get moving! We finally got started with everyone counting down the last 10 seconds and then shouts of happy New Years and couples kissing all around us and then we were off.  It was a slow shuffle to the starting line as we had a big crowd trying to get through a narrow area.  We made it to the start and then made our way onto the West waterfront area and we turned North.  This is where things got real interesting.  The road where we started was closed, but once we got onto the sidewalk it was wide open and there were people milling about along the waterfront and we either had to dodge or accept the offered high-fives as we ran by.  Several people at various levels of intoxication shouted out Happy New Years! as we ran by and one guy even called us all heroes! It was interesting to say the least.  There were also a couple people sitting on the benches who were smoking weed and celebrating and that was not something you usually see/smell along a race course.  At the Steel Bridge we turned East and crossed the river and then turned South along the Eastbank Esplanade.  Things finally opened up here and you could tell since our 2nd mile was a full minute faster than our first.  At the Hawthorne Bridge we looped up and around to cross back West across the river and return to the start.  A short jog South and then we looped back North to the World Trade Center and the finish.  Ironically enough, this same loop is part of our downtown 10 mile training loop, but we always run it in reverse (Eastbank, Steel, Westbank, Hawthorne).

We finished in 42 minutes, which was not a bad time at all considering the congestion and people dodging, and then the fact that neither one of us had run at all in the 2 weeks since the Holiday Half.

Another fun part was the people watching as we traveled to and from the race.  You know it’s New Year’s Eve when you get on the MAX Train in black running tights, shorts, two different colored shirts and a beanie cap and you are NOT the strangest dressed person on the train.  There were people in all kinds of costumes including sparkles and wings or fancy tuxes or a smoking jacket/jeans/sparkly converse combo.  We saw all manner of dress and it was pretty crazy.  After the race (about 1AM) people were spilling out into the streets and yelling and partying, pretty much a typical downtown New Years.

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent account! Wondered if I were the only participant bothered by the pot smoke and happy to know I was not alone. You didn’t mention the pedicabs. There was one stopped dead from the runners near the start. The occupants were extremely vocal about their unhappiness in very colorful language. Do you think the organizers could have resolved the on-course congestion among the runners before the race? (Since they cannot do much about pedestrians and other people using the park.) Should they have been more vocal, asking slower runners and walkers to stay to the right on the course? It was a good way to start the year!

    • The pot smoke didn’t bother me as much as surprise me. Not really a surprise for that part of the city at that time of night, but not something I associate with a race. I’m not sure why everyone got so bunched up at the start unless there wasn’t room to stretch out the line. Everyone pretty much stayed on the corner which was weird. Took us a full two minutes from the gun sounding till we actually crossed the start. The westside waterfront congestion was unavoidable I think, although I had fun with the reactions from the revelers. The eastside was deserted and things opened up on that side. It was a very fun even and look forward to doing it again next year!


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  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.