American Ryan Vail leads a pack of runners up Westferry Road at the 2014 London Marathon.
American Ryan Vail leads a pack of runners up Westferry Road at the 2014 London Marathon.

My Hometown: Runner Ryan Vail on Portland, Oregon

“Portland is a haven for professional distance runners.”

American Ryan Vail leads a pack of runners up Westferry Road at the 2014 London Marathon.

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Thanks to the unprecedented anticipation surrounding the Boston Marathon, followed by Meb’s big win and Shalane’s PR, American distance runners have been in the news a lot lately. But Boston isn’t the only marathon this month that’s attracted some big-name athletes.

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Vail hiking in Oregon. Vail hiking in Oregon.

On April 13, Ryan Vail finished tenth at the London Marathon—the highest finish by an American man since Meb placed ninth in 2009. The Portland, Oregon-native, who was also the top American finisher at last November’s New York City Marathon, ran a 2:10:57 across the pond—a personal best time.

What’s next? The 28-year-old told Let’s Run that he plans to run the 10,000 meters at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento in June, and also a fall marathon. Good thing he lives and trains in a “haven for professional distance runners. The mild weather, parks, trails, and the abundance of Northwest-based athletic companies have made Portland a national hub.” Here’s what else he has to say about the City of Roses:

Describe Portland.
Portland has many unique neighborhoods, but my particular neighborhood of St. Johns stands out. It truly feels like a small town even though it’s a short commute to downtown, and it’s full of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and vintage shops. It also has some of the best running parks in the city for training. Portland itself is fewer than two hours to the beautiful Oregon coast and an hour from camping, skiing, and hiking on Mount Hood. 

One thing most people don’t know about Portland?
Portland has more microbreweries than any city in the world. 

Favorite place to get outside?
Forest Park is one of the biggest parks in the U.S. (in city limits), and it offers endless trails and an escape from the city. It’s very accessible for me; I can get to it with an 8-minute jog. 

Best time of year to visit?
July and August. These are the only two months that you can really be sure that you’re in for good weather. Portland doesn’t have a harsh winter, but if you come outside of the summer months, be ready for rain. 

Best restaurant?
The John Street Cafe. It is only open for breakfast and lunch, and the local owner gets very creative with his omelets. My wife and I will wait a long time for a table to see what exotic combinations are on the specials menu. 

Must-see attraction?
St. Johns Bridge. This is a gorgeous, green suspension bridge connecting St. Johns to the west side of the river and Forest Park. Its lower arches are the center piece of the aptly named Cathedral Park below the bridge. It’s the perfect place to grill and enjoy the passing boats. 

Best place to stay?
McMenamins Edgefield Hotel. This hotel is just outside the city, and it brews its own beer, makes its own wine, and roasts its own coffee on site. The hotel originally served as a Poor Farm and a retirement home, but now features multiple bars, restaurants, and music venues. After a night of food, drinks, and music, you can make your way to the soaking pools before heading to bed. 

St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon
St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Need to Know:

Population: 603,106 

Portland is included in Outside‘s list of Best Big Cities for Active Families.

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