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Portland Marathon returns after 2020 absence due to COVID

Portland Marathon 2021 was held Sunday amid perfect weather and health safety rules due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It was a perfect sunrise start for the Portland Marathon on Sunday, with roughly 4,000 runners taking on the full 26.2 miles, or the half marathon course.

All were required to show proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test, to run.

This was a day many people had been waiting for. This race, like others across the country, was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“But to have this moment, it just feels like a weight has lifted off of us and we're here celebrating with one another again, and we're doing it as safely as we possibly can,” said Nathan Schaffer, vice president of operations for race organizer Brooksee, which took the event over in 2019 and had to stand down in 2020. 

Along with the runners, there were lots of supportive spectators both along the course and at the finish line. Many but not all, followed rules for mask-wearing at the finish line and after race area.

They got to see the first marathoner across the finish line. Matt Spear from Seaside race in 2019 and came back to win this year.

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“Great race, good weather great group of runners out there and yeah stoked to be running and racing again,” said Spear.

The first woman to finish was Kari Hamilton from the Spokane area. She finished first at the Vancouver marathon two weeks ago, and again in Portland on Sunday, seeming hardly out of breath at the finish. Hamilton was also glad to be back into running races.

“The Vancouver (race) was my and my husband's first one in two years, so it's definitely welcomed, so glad they're back, just really happy.”

Happy was a common feeling at the finish line. One woman came from New Jersey to run the half marathon with her sister. She finished the course first, then greeted her sibling with a smile and cheers of encouragement.

“I feel glad that it's done, whew, yeah I wouldn't have done it without my sister,” said the second sister to finish.

Credit: Tim Gordon, KGW

The Portland Marathon 2021, started and finished along the waterfront. The event brought people together, to run and then recover. And to cheer on people like Andre Rochell of Portland, tackling his first half marathon ever.

“I decided to do this right now because I'm finished with it,” joked Rochelle. But he was serious about feeling the support of people during his 13.1 mile run.

“It's very awesome, I encourage others to try it if ever you can; you don't have to run fast, you can walk, but it's amazing. At 55 I'm still alive, and they gave me the towel around my neck, I feel special!” exclaimed Rochelle.

That special feeling was felt by many others, crossing the finish line in Portland.

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