Oregon has a wealth of scenic, fun, and well-organized running races on deck for 2015. Whether you’re looking to qualify for Boston, try out racing for the first time, or just gallop around covered in mud, paint, or bubbles there’s a Northwest race you shouldn’t miss. Here are our top picks—share yours in the comments!
May 17—Rock ’n Roll Half
10k, half marathon
Register by: May 16
There is something weirdly satisfying about racing through downtown and across Portland's bridges, even if you manage to train here every day. Live bands are posted around the course to boost your spirits as you run, and Portland will be in full Rose Festival-bloom, so you can count on cheers from the sidelines as you cross the Steel Bridge into the home stretch.
Also consider: Shamrock Run, Starlight 5k, Bridge to Brews, and Red, White, and Blues 5k/10k
July 4—Foot Traffic Flat
5k, 8k, half marathon, marathon
Register by: July 4
This course is not only on Sauvie Island, it is also fast. Over the last few years around 20% of its marathon finishers have qualified for the Boston Marathon. And, once you’re done, plan to pile Sauvie Island strawberries onto the most hyper-local strawberry shortcake you’ve ever had. Also try: The Forest Park Marathon and Half Marathon.
October 4—Portland Marathon
Half marathon, marathon
Register by: October 3
Consistently named among the top 15 races in the country by Runner’s World, the Portland Marathon is great for first-timers and is attended by pros. Sound organizing, a friendly vibe, and a touch of elite status make for a perfect environment in which to invite the pain into your life.
TBA—The Color Run 5k
Can’t afford to fly to India for Holi, the world’s most colorful religious holiday? Stay home and attend the Color Run, also known as “The Happiest 5k on the Planet,” in which participants are splattered with eye-popping colors as they race. Part Neverland food-fight, part physical feat, it’s really just an excuse to act like a big kid. Also consider: The Slime Run 5k, The Bubble Run, The Ecliptic Beer Mile.
May 8-May 10—Eugene Marathon
5k, half marathon, marathon
Register by: May 4
Eugene isn't called "Track Town, USA" for nothing—it's home to a legendary track coach (Bill Bowerman), a traditionally strong track program (at the University of Oregon), and it's where many Olympic runners have come to train (with the Nike-funded Oregon Track Club). Running in a town so crazy about the sport is a great experience for elite and amateur runners alike, which is why the Eugene Marathon was called "the perfect marathon" by Runner's World. Also consider: Oregon Track Club’s Run/Walk Series.
June 19-20—Epic Oregon Relay
5.6 miles x 36, Tigard to Eugene
Register by: May 25
This 200-mile relay race is divided into 36 legs of 5.6 miles, with three legs assigned to each runner. The 12-person teams run for 24 hours straight through the striking landscape of the Willamette River Valley, making this a truly epic mix between an all-night party, a beautiful hike, and a vineyard tour. If you're attracted to the similar Hood to Coast relay, be aware that it has sold out on the first day for 16 years straight—it may be wise to consider an alternative. Also check out: the Gorgeous Relay series events in Bend, Hood River, and the Coast.
June 21—Clackamas Cove Triathlon
Register by June 11
Hear us out, because triathlons are something most runners would enjoy (even if they don’t know it yet). This one is a clear favorite among local triathletes, partly because it grew organically out of swims in the Cove, and partly because the course is unusual. It boasts a swim through a spillway and a run through downtown Oregon City with a stair-climb in the middle, just for good measure. Relaxed but challenging, it would make a great first-time triathlon for runners looking to try out the sport. Also great for newbies: the Portland Triathlon Club Mock Tri.
Central Oregon and the Coast
April 26—Bend Marathon
Marathon and half marathon
Register by April 25
Guaranteed to be gorgeous, the course showcases Bend’s Old Mill District, the Deschutes river, the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, and tops it all off with a party at 10 Barrel Brewing Company.
May 30—Newport Marathon and Half Marathon
Register by May 29
If you’ve ever wanted to eat endless oyster shooters while running away from a haunted lighthouse…you have a very active imagination. But you can actually make your Scooby-Doo-esque fantasy a reality in the coastal town of Newport. And, who knows, this flat course may be exactly what you need to get your fantasy-PR as well.
June 26-28—Pacific Crest Weekend Sport Festival
Sunriver: 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon; sprint and long course triathlon; olympic and endurance duathlon
Register by day of race
It’s huge, it’s got every event imaginable in every distance imaginable, and it’s all in one weekend. It even offers events for family members—two races for kids and one cycling tour for anybody—so the troops don’t get restless while mom smashes her PR.
September 13—Ole’s Assault (Average Finish Time: 2 hours)
Register by September 13
Sponsored by the popular Portland outdoor store Next Adventure, Ole’s Assault takes pains to let you know that it’s not just any old “foo foo” adventure run. The exact obstacles and distance of the race are kept secret until the event, which takes place on private land in the coastal hills outside of Astoria, but the organizers guarantee that you will be “a filthy mess” at the end. Also consider: Survivor Mud Run, Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race, Oregon Warrior Dash, and The Epic Grind.