Think of any applicable Portlandia cliché, Portland, Oregon has it! Hipsters, food carts, mustache contests, full-contact poetry readings, bicycle jousting, urban lawn-eating goats and bridges. There is a number of bridges in this town. Eleven in the city of Portland to be exact, most of which, with the exception of a couple of railroad and automobile-exclusive ones, are open to foot traffic. An endurance-minded individual will instantly see a training opportunity.
The “Waterfront Loop” is probably the most traveled running route in the city, definitely the most centrally-located and easiest to find. One can basically pick a bridge with a pedestrian crossing, make their way across the river, then move north or south on either the east or west esplanade, until getting to another bridge, crossing again, heading in the opposite direction on the other side, thus closing the loop. The map below pictures the shortest option, approximately 2.5 miles between the Steel and Hawthorn bridges. This option offers a decent way to stretch your legs with a loop or two along the Waterfront Park on the west side of the river and Eastbank Esplanade on the east shore.
There are of course ways to extend this loop beyond the brief 2.5 miles. Yours truly and Barb usually start in our neighborhood in Northeast Portland, a little over a mile inland from city center, making our way to Broadway Bridge, located a bit further north, adding another mile or so to the distance traveled near the river. Coupled with the way to and from the water, it turns out to be a nice little run, something between 6 and 7 miles. No real opportunities to go fast, weaving in and out of car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, but a good way to put in some intermediate distance and junk miles.
Running south towards Ross Island bridge and crossing it would extend the loop even farther, so would taking off on any of the east-west streets, or circumnavigating the loop a few times. City street running can be a natural, zesty enterprise, sometimes a welcome break from the monotony of rural highways or secluded trails. Definitely so in a unique city like Portland.
Of course, a keen runner should have the desire an ability to move at various paces over various surfaces throughout different stages of their training. Stay tuned for an exploration of a Portland route that is great for putting the pedal to the metal, or, I suppose letting the compression-molded EVA and rubber of your shoe meet the asphalt of a flat and fast road.
@poindexterendurance on Instagram
Barb is @wildlifesangria