UPDATE (Monday, 10:23 a.m. PT) – For 22-year-old Kallin Khan, Sunday’s race wasn’t even close.
From mile five all the way to the finish line, Khan led the pack of more than two thousand runners participating in the Portland Marathon. Another 3,600 opted for Sunday’s 13-mile route.
“Everyone was telling me I had a big lead,” Khan told reporters a few minutes after being crowned Sunday’s winner. “I was confident through the finish line.”
It took Khan, a Chicago native, just over two hours, 25 minutes to finish the course, which took runners through the city’s four quadrants. A second place winner would not be announced for another 20 minutes. That’s when Kunitaka Imaizumi, a student at the University of Oregon, sprinted over the finish line.
It has since come to light that between 15 and 20 runners directly behind Khan in Sunday’s race took a wrong turn around mile nine, likely explaining the large gap between the first and second place finishers. The runners, who went astray near the entrance to the Ross Island Bridge, estimate the detour added between 10 and 20 minutes to their final times.
Khan said he’s been working toward the victory since moving to Portland two months ago, running more than a hundred miles each week with the Bowerman Track Club. He hopes to soon qualify for the Olympic trials, a feat that would require him to shave six minutes off his Sunday time.
First place for the women’s division – and third place overall – went to Jamie Gibbs, an analytics director at Nike, who ran the route in two hours, 48 minutes.
There were no Olympic-level runners in Sunday’s event, according to Jared Rohatinsky, the CEO of Brooksee, a Utah-based race producer which oversaw the event for the first time.
The former race and route were scrapped in 2018 after lackluster attendance and a state investigation into the finances of the then-marathon director. A long city search for a new producer meant marathon registration didn’t open until this spring. Typically, the schedules of Olympic-caliber athletes are booked a year and a half in advance, Rohatinsky explained.
In past statements, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a runner himself, had said he hoped the new company would energize turnout and turn Portland’s marathon into “a world-class event worthy of a host city that’s known for running.” Wheeler came in 883rd at Sunday’s event.
Runners interviewed Sunday agreed that the new course, which moved runners through some of Portland’s most beloved areas, had taken a turn for the better after decades of lingering too long in the more industrial parts of town.
“You went out on Highway 30, which is nothing to look at,” said Pam Leeding, a five-time veteran of the Portland Marathon. “I love this route. It’s really fun to be in the neighborhoods.”
Jared Rohatinsky, the CEO of Brooksee, previously told OPB that the company had made a point to design a distinctly Portland course, taking runners past city staples like Sellwood, NW 23rd Ave, and Reed College, instead of forcing them to be “to be out of the way, unseen.”