Earlier this week, the Portland Marathon released an announcement that they will dissolve the non-profit organization after 47 years. Amidst the event issues and misappropriation of funds over the past few years, I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am saddened by the loss of such a historic race.
The Portland Marathon, in an open letter, stated they were closing the event due to a reduction in entrants, and that the City of Portland wanted to “move in a different direction”. Both of these reasons are true. In 2016 there were 7,000 marathon finishers. In 2017 there were less than 3,000. Based on the numbers provided in the letter from the Portland Marathon it appears they only had 2,500 entrants for this year. It is unclear if this number was for full, half, or a combined number. This is definitely a drop.
I can’t blame the City of Portland for wanting to move in a different direction and to bring life back into the Portland Marathon. Perhaps a new race director and the new organization will be able to bring the Portland Marathon back as one of the top marathons in North America.
With any luck, a new organization can remove the stain of previous event director Les Smith’s ‘borrowing’ of over $800,000 in the non-profit’s funds. Not to mention the poorly managed event over the past few years – including adding half a mile to the race finish and announcing winners incorrectly. There is much to overcome.
The City of Portland is currently looking for an organization to replace the Portland Marathon. They hope to have the race back to life for 2019 – or possibly even this year if they are able to bring someone online quickly.
If you are looking for an alternative Fall marathon this year – may I suggest the Boring Marathon in Boring, Oregon. It’s not too far from Portland, and the scenery is gorgeous. Or, try the AppleTree Marathon in Vancouver, Washington.