Spectating at the July 4th Foot Traffic Flat Marathon — Portland, OR

Cheering Jason on— Foot Traffic Flat Marathon

Cheering on Jason at the Foot Traffic Flat (Copyright Gary Kentner)

Ever since the Rum Run in May, I have been totally lazy. Jason on the other hand, spent the first part of the summer training for his first full marathon— The Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on July 4th on Sauvie Island in Portland.

It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a month now because it was such a big occasion. Jason is a fast runner and he sets lofty goals— this time it was attempting to qualify for Boston in his first full marathon ever— which meant a finish time under 3:05.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we suffered a killer heatwave for the Portland area. In fact, temps soared to nearly 100 degrees later that day—miserable for us Willamette Valley natives.

Along with a whole bunch of Jason’s family, I took my bike to Sauvie Island— the better to cheer him on. It felt strange not to be running, but I have to admit I was glad. With the insane temperatures, I’ve nearly sworn off running completely this summer. I do not do well in heat.

Jason Running

Another great photo of Jason! (Copyright Gary Kentner)

I rode my bike to a corner where the half-marathon and full marathon runners were splitting and dedicated myself to ringing my cowbell and waving flags to cheer on all the half-marathon runners. I felt I was paying it forward, considering how much I love people who cheer for my slow self.

Jason was on an out-and-back part of the marathon course and by the time the slowest of the half-marathoners ran past, the fastest marathoners were coming around the corner and I got to cheer for Jason.

He looked spectacular in his Captain America Under Armour running shirt— one of the few fast fellows who dared to wear something themed to July 4th.

Jason ran a great pace up until mile 15. By mile 17, his new goal was to finish with a solid marathon time of under 4 hours. For a first marathon, that’s a pretty solid goal.

I rode my bike up a ways to cheer him on, but left around mile 17 to ride back to the finish, where tons of people were running in. Many were dressed with patriotic spirit in celebration of the holiday (including Jason, of course).

I walked down the course a ways, ready to cheer in Jason and when I saw him approach the finish line, I went ballistic. I’m sure others were wondering. Jason ran across the finish line for a time of 3:53:26, well under his revised goal!

Marathon finisher 4th of july

This is a genuine smile from an exhausted first-time marathoner. (Copyright Gary Kentner)

He was truly happy with his finish, which is faster than many marathoners will ever run (like me, if I ever make it 26.2). I finally found a distance that will wear Jason out.

Once he could breathe again, Jason swore he would never run another marathon again. In fact running at all… why do people do it?

We celebrated his accomplishment and the fourth of july with an epic BBQ with tons of great homecooked food, including pulled pork and BBQ pulled chicken, mac & cheese, bourbon baked beans, coleslaw, cornbread and more.

By 2 weeks later, Jason said he’d be interested in running another full marathon.

It was interesting watching a race, and I had fun riding my bike around the island and cheering. The waiting is a little hard, especially knowing I could be suffering through my own race (and finishing a Half-marathon only an hour or so faster than Jason’s first full).


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