City lays out demands for Portland Marathon to happen in 2017

Portland Marathon in jeopardy, denied permit

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The city of Portland sent a letter to the organizer of the Portland Marathon, detailing what needs to happen in order for the event to take place in October. 

The iconic event has been in jeopardy after the city denied a permit for the race, citing lack of police officers available to patrol the original route. The Department of Justice is also looking into the marathon's nonprofit status, a KGW investigation revealed.  

On June 22, the Portland Bureau of Transportation issued a letter to marathon director Les Smith with five sets of demands he must meet in order for the city to issue a permit for the marathon.

The demands include: 

  • Smith or another marathon official must attend all city meetings about the marathon 
  • Smith must agree to the city's proposal for a medical plan by June 30 
  • Smith must agree to one of the city's proposed route options by July 17 
  • Any tweaks to the chosen route option must be finalized by July 31 
  • The Portland Marathon must pay estimated costs for Portland police and PBOT resources by July 31

PBOT said if the demands aren't met, it may not approve the marathon's permit. 

Smith previously said he wouldn't alter the route from going over the St. Johns Bridge and running over Highway 30, which the city asked him to do. When the city denied his permit request, Smith said he was surprised. 

He told KGW the marathon pays the officers’ overtime to staff the event. If staffing is the issue, Smith said he could hire officers from Multnomah County, Washington County or Beaverton, as he's done for other races.  

Related: Some Portland Marathon racers ran an extra half mile last year

PBOT said the permit denial was about public safety and a new route would allow fewer officers to safely patrol the race.

“We really are focused on public safety and it comes down to can we provide a safe event,” said PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera. “And with the police staffing levels we're facing and the route that the marathon seems unwilling to change, it won’t be safe.”

Last year, there were about 75 officers working the marathon. This year, PBOT says they can provide 33 officers. The issue of police staffing has already altered this summer’s Bridge Pedal route.

More: Three bridges cut from this year's Bridge Pedal

PBOT officials said they reached out to race organizers last October to get ahead of the issue but got no response.

“They're claiming that I don’t keep contact with them and haven’t been in contact with them. That's totally untrue,” Smith said. “They're sitting on a letter that they refuse to answer which deals with all kinds of the concerns whether its police, maintenance, a variety of things.”

Marathon officials can also make a case to the Portland City Council. They would need at least three council members to agree with their proposal.

On June 16, organizers agreed to work with the city to develop a new route.

This year’s marathon is currently scheduled for Oct. 8.

Related: Vancouver marathon mistake means runners couldn't qualify for Boston

© 2017 KGW-TV


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