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August 1st, 2007 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Portland Parks and Recreation

     
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The polite people at Hoyt Arboretum don't want to point fingers. But the curmudgeons at the Rogue Desk are more than willing to do so.

Portland Parks and Recreation? The Rogue Desk wants you! Here's why: On July 15, about 900 women raced in the "Run Like a Girl" 8K, sponsored by Portland's Montrail footwear company and the Portland Running Co. store.

Despite the race's borderline sexist name, this was no dainty jaunt. Montrail's website advertised the event as "a beautiful trail running race taking place on the gentle trails of Forest Park." To that end, $5 of every $30 entry fee was donated to the Friends of Forest Park, a private charity for the public park in Northwest Portland.

But the race actually started at the World Forestry Center in Southwest Portland and wound its way through neighboring Hoyt Arboretum. And therein lies the problem: A race with 900 runners puts a heavy toll on the narrow trails at the arboretum, which is considered a "living museum"—a planned garden of plants and trees from around the world.

It was Portland Parks and Rec that approved the race location, saying it has no policy limiting the number of race runners at Hoyt Arboretum.

But no one at Parks and Rec ever mentioned the race to Hoyt Arboretum Friends Executive Director Cynthia Haruyama, who believes the number of runners can—and should—be limited. "The arboretum is not the best venue for that kind of a run," Haruyama says. "That much human impact takes a toll."

In fact, in a handful of places, runners appear to have taken shortcuts, Haruyama says. Rogue Desk translation: They were trampling on plant specimens and cheating! And that's not running like a girl. That's running like a bee-yotch.

Hoyt Arboretum and Parks and Rec will now discuss a limit. Says Parks spokeswoman Beth Sorensen: "It's something to learn from."

 
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