It’s no coincidence that Oregon is home to some of the grittiest competitors out there, from New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan, to prodigy-turned-pro Jordan Hasay, to 800m standout Kate Grace. While Nike may be one obvious factor linking these athletes, they share something else in common: training year round in Portland.
Running through winter in Rose City often leaves me wondering, “Why in the world do I live here?” The days are dark and gloomy, the rain is never-ending, and my motivation is almost always at a low. The months drag on, and every drenched pair of shoes, battery replaced in my headlamp, and yet another pre-dawn Strava entry are my badges of honor through it all.
Then every March the cherry blossoms begin to bud, marking the beginning of the spring racing season. The popular Shamrock Run is just around the corner, and I think of all the hard work I put in and wonder if my Oregonian competitors were as relentless. It’s evident in the race results year after year – of course, they were! Unlike much of the US, we don’t have to deal with blizzards or below-freezing temps bringing everything to a halt (oh wait, except for that one time). There are no off days unless you say so. You either put in the work or you don’t, and that’s what I love about running in Oregon.
If you happen to visit Portland–and I’d recommend doing so in our finest months of June, July, and August–you absolutely must run to these spots:
Duniway City Park – Home to my favorite community track in all of Portland, set among lush fir trees and the nearby lilac garden. I’ve run countless workouts here, and don’t be surprised if you bump into local elites and Olympians getting theirs in too. Shameless plug, it will also be home to the inaugural all-comers Rose City Mile on June 30th!
International Rose Test Garden – Start from downtown Portland and plug this landmark into your FASTZach app. You’ll get in a couple grueling uphill miles but will be rewarded at the top with a garden full of more roses than you’ve ever seen in your life!
Use this 5-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore the International Rose Test Garden.
Leif Erikson Trail – I like to dub this trail the Long Run Promenade, as it seems most of Portland’s running community makes their pilgrimage to its trailhead on NW Thurman St. every Sunday to log their double-digit miles. It’s easy to see why–it’s a simple out-and-back stretching on for 22 miles with markers every quarter mile. The scenery is absolutely beautiful as you’re surrounded by the trees of Forest Park the entire way. I also can’t help but make a stop at Spielman Bagel on NW Lovejoy on my way home for their Bacon, Jam, & Arugula on Poppyseed.
Use this 10-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Forest Park and Liz’s favorite bagel shop.
Sauvie Island – A 20-minute drive north of Portland, Sauvie Island is runner/cyclist heaven! It has a flat, paved 12-mile loop on country roads which also serves as Foot Traffic’s annual Flat Marathon and Half. You’ll get treated to sweeping views of farms, marshes, the foothills of Forest Park to the west, and on a clear day, an amazing view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens to the east.
Use this 12-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Sauvie Island.