Plan your 2013 walking calendar. The Portland, Oregon area has many walker-friendly half marathons and a few walker-friendly marathons. Here are my picks for 2013:
March 24: Hop Hop Half: This new half marathon has a course on the bike path along the Columbia River (Marine Drive). It is capped at 1000 registrants. They promise to be walker-friendly with an approximate 4 hour time limit.
April 14: ORRC Vernonia Marathon & Half Marathon: Time limit of 7 hours for marathon, 4 hours for half marathon.
April 14: Race for the Roses: While they say they welcome walkers, the time limit on the course is only three hours before being routed to the sidewalks. After walking their inaugural event, I have not participated again.
May 19: Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon: Time limit of 4 hours, on a very "Portlandia" course through Southeast Portland.
June 8: Helvetia Half Marathon: This hilly half marathon has a 4 hour time limit. Enjoy the countryside and great Helvetia burgers at the finish line!
June 16: Vancouver USA Marathon and Half Marathon: The half marathon has a walker-friendly time limit of five hours, the marathon seven hours.
July 4: Foot Traffic Flat: This event on Sauvie Island is as flat as it gets, and has a time limit of six hours for the marathon and 5.5 hours for the half marathon. Awesome strawberry shortcake at the finish! Register now, it sells out.
October 6: Portland Marathon and Half Marathon: The half marathon is almost sold out already, so get cracking! You can't switch from the marathon to the half marathon (or vice versa) so make your choice now. There is no time limit, but racers slower than an 8 hour pace for the marathon are moved to the sidewalks on an alternate course. There are Racewalk and Nordic Walk divisions for the marathon in addition to just plain walkers and runners. Great swag, but it is a very boring half marathon course. Come for the fun, not the route.
October 27: Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half Marathon: Time limit of 7 hours for marathon, 5.5 hours for half marathon. Great, scenic route on the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway.
December 15: Foot Traffic Holiday Half: The finish is open for those on a 20-minute mile pace (4.3 hours) but you will be moved to the sidewalks on the return if walking slower than a 15-minute mile pace. This is no problem as the course is along the Bluff in North Portland. But, it can be a very cold, wet and windy course!