5k Fun Run through downtown Portland in front of 250,000 spectators of the Starlight Parade. This evening event features the area’s largest costume contest with prizes, entertainment, exhibits, giveaways and more. Family event with huge youth following.
Costume Contest: 6:30 p.m. pre-judging
5K Run: 7:45 p.m. start
Why do I do this race every year? Because it is not only a chance to run in front of thousands of spectators, it is also a chance to run a very challenging course and some surprisingly deep competition.
The Starlight Run has been run annually since 1979. In that time it has started in three different places but always finished at the same place – Lincoln High School. In the early years it started at the Memorial Coliseum and then ran across the Broadway Bridge where it joined the parade route downtown. After a couple of years the start moved to Benson High School where the race became a very unique one – it was a 6K or 3.73 miles. I believe it was about 10 years ago the race moved to its present location at SW 16th & Jefferson. I wish I could be more specific, but when you run a race 33 times they all tend to run together.
Yes, you read that right. I’ve run Starlight 33 consecutive years. I’m a streaker and when it comes to races this is my longest streak, and that gets me to why I love this race.
At the heart of the matter, despite some fast times up front, the chance to run in the evening and a challenging course, this is a fun run. Gun goes off, you run hard for 5k and you finish noting your time. No awards unless you are top 3, just the satisfaction of having run hard and enjoyed an evening run with friends, perhaps while costumed, in front of well over 100,000 people. How often do that many people come out to watch a race? Outside of this race? Zero. During the race kids are constantly looking to give you a “high five” as you run by and the cheer from the crowd is constant. It is a great feeling to hear all that cheering since so often we race on empty streets where the only sound is the footstrikes and breathing of other runners.
The entry fee is reasonable and for it you are treated to a post-race concert and samples from vendors like Clif Bar. You get a well-organized start/finish area with a bag check and a pre-race costume contest.
I’ll point out the only fault I can find with this race – it’s a long 5K. I’ve run it enough times with my Garmin, and I am enough of a running geek to focus on running the tangents, to say that 3.23 miles each year means this course is long by a little. Having said that, this is a fun run, so it really doesn’t matter.
If you missed the Starlight Run this year, put it on your calendar for next year and enjoy an evening race through the streets of downtown.
- Guest reviewed 2 years ago
I can’t accurately assess this as a “running” event because it’s a fun run, that is actually quite fun! Packet pickup is a breeze, and you get to stretch out on the school track and see what great costumes people are wearing. If you’re into shirts, buy one ahead of time, because they often don’t have extras for sale. Running in front of the crowds lined up for the parade route is a BLAST! The volunteers are very friendly, and they have water afterwards. Parking is a nightmare, but it’s a PDX event, so that’s to be expected. Not enough porta potties, so get there early and get in line!