Running the Portland Riverfront

Last week, Laima and I headed out to Portland for the Wine Tourism Conference – while the conference is aimed at the hospitality industry, hey, it’s wine! Also, a good opportunity way to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.

From our hotel, the Doubletree Portland, it was  a half mile or so down to the Willamette (rhymes with dammit!) River, so the two runs we got in were all about enjoying the riverfront. Both times we accessed the west side of the river via the Steel Bridge. 

Running the Portland Riverfront
Photos courtesy of Laima (Women’s Endurance Gear)

Our first day took us on a downtown loop through Waterfront Park on the west side and the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade on the other side. The Steel Bridge is the north connection across the river, with the Hawthorne Bridge at the south end. The west side is all park, with some interesting attractions along the way. Crossing the river took us onto the Esplanade, which is a series of floating sections, ramps and concrete pathway. This side gave some pretty spectacular water-level views of downtown.

Our second run took us once again over the Steel Bridge, but this time we headed north along the Willamette River Greenway Trail, over the Broadway Bridge, then back to the hotel along streets. This is a much shorter loop, but could be extended with more neighborhood running (going into the Pearl District at the west end of the Broadway Bridge would be an interesting add-on).

One of the strangest things we found was that, for the most part, very few of the runners and cyclists were friendly. Most ignored us, while there clearly is some animosity between the two groups, with cyclists aggressively cutting in front of us after passing. Kind of a bummer. This is the exact opposite of my experience in Seattle many, many years ago, where people were almost too friendly (if that’s possible). However, don’t let it stop you – we went during the morning commute, so maybe people were just cranky from lack of coffee or bummed about heading into work.

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