Portland Marathon 2016

Today I ran the Portland Marathon and finished the race in 3 hours 53 minutes and 09 seconds officially.

Official Race Results

I want to share some of my thoughts and feelings on the race, along with what appears to be a mistake by the race organizers that I hope can get corrected or at least acknowledged.

GPS splits, mile by mile
Watch at finish line 8'44"/mi for 26.68 miles

Official results and my Mile by mile splits shown above, along with my watch showing 26.68 miles run at 3:53:10 when I crossed the finish line.

Some unexpected bad weather rolled in and we raced much of the race since mile 9 in a very steady rain. Overcoming these conditions to average 8:44/mi, very close to my 8:39/mi goal is something I’m proud of.

I was confused after the race how I could hit many of the times per mile I targeted and be 4 minutes off my target pace.

If you look at my race results, you’ll notice an odd result in the official results showing I ran the first 5km (3.1 mi) at a pace of 10:08/mi. Yet my splits show I ran the first 3 mi in 8:43, 8:40, 8:59.

During the race, when crossing the 5k sign, both of my watches read 3.55 mi, not 3.1. I started asking other runners during the race who said they had the same mileage. We assumed the signage was wrong.

Noticed 10's of other runners on Strava ran 26.65+ mi or more, with GPS data showing they added 0.4 mi in first mile

After noticing this, I also noticed that hundreds of runners had run 26.65+ miles, not 26.2. Usually you can add some distance by not cornering properly, an aware of that as I have run in 20+ races, and this is my 4th full marathon. But it is odd to add a full 0.4 miles.

After looking at my GPS on the map, along with the course map, it appears our corral, Corral C, ran a full 0.4 miles extra in the first mile.

GPS data showing our route at start of race

The “stair step” you see above which heads East on Hoyt, was not the prescribed route for the marathon shown below. The official course route is to turn right off of 4th street onto Couch, and then a right onto Naito.

Pink arrows summarizing extra distance run

As the corrals go off, they are separated between other corrals starting by approximately 5 minutes. Our corral C started approximately at 7:10. My best guess is our corral had between 500–800 runners in it, maybe more, out of the 10,000+ in the marathon. It is a large mass of runners, elbow to elbow at the start.

While I know for certain all of us headed down this path together, I don’t know why. Was the course not adequately marked? I do know that the first mile of a race as big as this is jam packed with runners within 1–3' of each other. Taking a “wrong turn” is not something we do in the middle of this pack. I can only guess, for whatever reason, the lead-out group of Corral C missed the turn, we all followed, including the 3:45"Lizard” pace group.

In hindsight, I am 100% sure we’d all do the same thing. Breaking off from the group on a turn in mile 1, when the massive corral is heading down a road, would seem like a very strange move. Runners are worried about pacing, calming down, etc, not “is my corral following the correct course route in mile 1".

It all makes perfect sense now why both of my watches read 3.55 at the 5k sign, and why my results show this 10:00+ avg pace at the 5k split. Also explains while I was hitting my goal times by my watch, the end result was 3:53:09 and not the 3:49 I would have expected — we simply ran an extra 0.4 miles within the first mile.

I am hopeful the Portland Marathon rectifies this for us in Corral C in some way.

I am really happy and proud of this effort, my 4th marathon, and 3rd Portland Marathon. But having this occur my Marathon that I prepared hard for taints it a bit. I hold the Portland Marathon in high esteem, and hope this can be at least acknowledged by race organizers, or ideally adjusting our official times in Corral C.