Portland is a great city if you love to run, and lots of people in Portland love to run. Hence, the city hosts lots of great running events throughout the year. If you are in the area around mid-March, the Shamrock Run is a race that you should definitely check out. It is one of my favorite running races, combining running, festivities and lots and lots and lots of beer.
The races comes in three flavors: a 5K, 8K or 15K. All three run through a good part of downtown and the waterfront area, so matter which one you choose you get a great urban racing experience. The crowds are typically more fun in the downtown area as well, helping to keep you motivated (or drunk). The only one I’ve managed to do so far is the 15K, which begins on Naito Parkway before winding through the Burnside area and then into downtown. From downtown the run heads through Portland State’s urban campus and then begins a long climb up Terwilliger Blvd (one of my favorite areas to run in Portland). Terwilliger is a really amazing part of Portland; lots of forest area, great biking and running areas, the Med School Stairs and wonderful views of the Cascades and downtown.
After the Terwilliger portion, the run takes a U-turn and heads back toward the city via Barbur Blvd. This part of the run is the most monotonous – long, flat and straight sections that never seem to end. However, after working your way through this, you will wind back into downtown and to the finish, which is always packed with spectators.
The event is a great celebration of Portland’s unique mix of hardcore athletes, and gonzo-urban populace. There were as many people running in costumes as there were in athletic gear. There are usually a lot of bands and street parties, and don’t forget the most important part of a St. Patrick’s Day themed race – the beer tents.
Distance: 5K, 8K or 15K options
Race Map here
Event website here