Check out Portland s waterfront and most days you'll find women running along the seawall.

The sport has embraced women and their buying power. Stores like Foot Traffic in downtown Portland devote at least half their space to women.

Devon Miller is visiting from Vancouver, B.C. The shoes she s trying on are made specifically for women with a narrower heel and wider mid foot than a man's shoe.

Running clothes specifically target women too, from sports bras to tights, and even skirts with shorts underneath.

The skirt has a real kind of nice look and so, if you want to have something that you can wear before or after running as well, you have an option, said Foot Traffic manager Laura Thomas. It s kind of fun to look feminine when you're running sometimes.

How the times have changed; 44 years ago distance running was not kind to women.

In 1968, Katherine Switzer used her initials to register and became the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon. As pictures from that day reveal, the infuriated race director tried to drag her off the course. Her boyfriend and coach shoved him out of the way and she finished.

Portland's most famous runner, Olympian Kara Goucher, knows how far the sport has come.

Women's running has completely changed, she said. I know Joanie would walk. Joanie Samuelson would walk when a car came by because she was embarrassed to be out running. And now 70 percent of the participants in this race will be women.

She plans to run in Portland s first ever Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon to test her fitness. The Olympics are just two months away. We found her at the run's health and fitness expo. Other women there said they run for the health and mental benefits.

I think it s all of the above. I like running to escape and just run into my thoughts, said Heather Parmley.

Stay healthy, and it's convenient, Pam Rogers added.

The weight control, Chris Nagy said. I like that I can eat a lot more and drink a lot more. I like that it's therapy. If you can t solve it in 13.1 miles, it s not getting solved.

All of it, said Corinne Loprinzi. I love the fitness aspect of it. I like being able to just get out and think and clear my thoughts while I m running.

It's a feeling they share with one of the best in the world.

For me, I don t run with my son, said Kara Goucher. I get out the door and it s my time and I run with my friends, my training partner Shalane Flannigan and Lisa Uhl and we just chat and it's just a release for me. It s like, honestly, one of the highlights of my day and I think it always will be.

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