Portland Marathon Board Cancels 2018 Race, Will Shutter Organization In Fallout From Financial Investigation

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In the aftermath of the financial scandal that led to an investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), the Portland Marathon board of directors has resolved to cancel the 2018 race.

Furthermore, the nonprofit organization that has been in charge of the marathon for 47 years will be dissolved and its funds will go to local charities, the Oregonian reports.

The announcement was made in an open letter sent to the media outlet on Friday. The board of directors also sent the letter to the City of Portland on the same day, at 11:30 a.m.

“Our decision was based on a number of factors, including a decline in race registrants for 2018 and the Board’s understanding of the City of Portland’s desire to move in a different direction,” stated the letter.

This decision comes from a new board of directors, comprised of recently elected members that have been instated after former event director Les Smith resigned from the Portland Marathon organization following the DOJ investigation.

As a result of the investigation, Smith was found to have illegally borrowed $865,000 from the nonprofit organization. Less than two weeks ago, the former event director reached a settlement agreement with the DOJ, according to which he is no longer allowed to work in nonprofits, foot races, or as a lawyer in the state of Oregon, notes KGW.

In addition, Smith is required to pay back the Portland Marathon organization all the funds that he has borrowed, of which $50,000 is set to go to the DOJ to cover the cost of the financial investigation.

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In the letter, the new board of directors thanked both the DOJ and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for their contribution in the recovery of the estranged funds, noting that, “after accounting for expenses and consistent with state law,” the remaining sum will be distributed to charities.

The letter also assured the nearly 2,500 people who already put down the registration fee to sign up for the 2018 Portland Marathon that their money will be refunded through the race registration platform, Active.com.

The DOJ was not the only institution to find issues with the Portland Marathon organization in the recent past. The City of Portland has also come across a few irregularities, although none of a legal nature.

Last year, the city discovered a problem with the race’s route and the unavailability of sufficient police officers. After initially denying a permit for the 2017 Portland Marathon, the city required the nonprofit to meet a list of demands and pay for some of the event costs in advance, as well as agree to a new route.

In 2016, the nonprofit managed to make a couple of blunders that tarnished the organization’s reputation. Portland Marathon organization awarded the winner’s trophy to the wrong person, after already having made the runners compete for an extra half-mile.