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Runners excited for Portland Marathon's 50th anniversary

The Portland Marathon turns 50 this Sunday. Thousands of athletes will run through 20 Portland neighborhoods.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The grind is over, tapering complete, and athletes, like Paul Balmer and his Rose City Track club teammate Marla Smith are ready to roll for Sunday's 50th Portland Marathon.

"It’s awesome," Balmer said. "It feels like Christmas morning every time. I love racing, I love rolling up to the starting line."

Added Smith: “I’m really excited to do a hometown race. It's been awhile."

RELATED: 50th Portland Marathon: Traffic to be impacted on downtown bridges

Canceled by the pandemic in 2020, a few thousand runners returned in 2021. This year, race officials expect about 7,000 athletes to line up Sunday morning for the marathon or half-marathon distance.

"This year marks the 50th running of the Portland Marathon," said Chris Braun with Portland Marathon. "It’s rich with tradition and history. It's a big year."

New for 2022 is the Portland Marathon Hall of History, displaying 50 years of race memories at the runner expo on Saturday at the Oregon Convention Center. Also new, a kids' one-mile out-and-back run along Naito Parkway.

"Kids will receive a shirt, and medal, and they’ll also get a bib with a timing chip in it, so the race is timed as well," Braun said.

Portland is known for being a great running community and returning this year is the Neighborhood Cheer Challenge.

"It's one of the most unique aspects of the Portland Marathon," Braun said.

There's $1,000 on the line for the best cheering neighborhood, as voted by the runners. The marathon writes a check for $1,000 to the top vote getter.  Additional payouts of $500 go to the remaining top five. Last year, there were co-winners: Brooklyn, and Foster-Powell. Foster-Powell also won in 2019.

The 26.2 miles, through 20 Portland neighborhoods, will mean road closures, most notably the Broadway Bridge will be closed for a few hours, which will impact TriMet and Streetcar service.

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram

RELATED: Portland Marathon returns after 2020 absence due to COVID

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