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Portland Track Festival kicks off this weekend

Some of the best middle-distance runners worldwide will compete at the track festival this weekend. This year, the competition has moved to a different track.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The love of running is going strong in Portland. At Duniway Park in Southwest Portland, the track seems to always be in use.

The Portland Track Festival, which draws top track athletes from around the world, rungs June 3-4.

“We went through the seeding last night and there's people from China and South America and Europe,” said Michael Bergmann, vice president of the nonprofit, Track Portland, which organizes the meet.

Bergmann also said there will be plenty of elite U.S. runners here too.

The competition started in 2008 as a middle school meet and has now morphed into a major event for mid-distance runners. It's usually held at Lewis and Clark College, but due to construction, this year Mount Hood Community College got the call. The track is repainted with fresh white lane lines and ready to go.

“I absolutely love Mount Hood Community College, it gives us a little more space we're able to have these food carts and a beer garden; a really great fan athlete experience,” Bergmann said.

That is exactly what the big community college plans to provide, according to Abby Wilsonthe marketing and communications project coordinator at the school.

“It's going to be unique for these athletes who are coming from all over to come and see what the Pacific Northwest has to offer, and more specifically, Gresham, which is a little off skirt of Portland but we have a really unique community and close knit community,” Wilson said.

As for the competition, there is nearly $45,000 in prizes for race winners, in races like the 800, the 1500, and the 5000, culminating in a big Sunday evening finale.

“Then we go right into the hot races and there's one after another after another so there's about a two-hour window, it's incredibly exciting,” Bergmann said.

Tickets to the event are $15, but those 18 and under get in free. There is also a pay to view steaming option available, with a portion of the cost going to the meet purse to reward winning runners.

And as for the middle school track athletes, they also compete but at a different venue these days. Liberty High School in Hillsboro will be packed with 1,600 young athletes this weekend. After they compete, it’s likely some of them will be heading to Gresham to see some of their idols run the track.  

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