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Outpacing the rain in Portland

Our worldwide waterproof testing tour continues in Portland, Oregon, US. Sitting on the banks of both the Columbia and the Willamette, there’s no doubt that this is a city influenced by water. Increasingly, however, it’s rain, not rivers, that shapes how residents live and train.  


Portland is one of the US’s most rain-soaked cities. It typically sees an average of 36 inches of rain every year. Once summer’s over, the rain in the Rose City is relentless. Averages show precipitation on over 140 days of the year. But where it always rained, now it pours. Records show 2017 was extremely wet, with almost 53 inches of rainfall over 165 wet days. And that’s not mentioning the nine inches of snow…  



With those weather stats, you could forgive Portland’s runners for finding excuses not to train. But the Portlanders didn’t make their city a centre of athletic excellence by hiding indoors. When we needed a seasoned runner to test the new On waterproof collection, we didn’t have to look far.


Nicole Freitag (pictured) has been running since age 12. She still holds the national record in the mile for an eighth-grade girl, clocking 4:50.  A nine-time All-American and four-time Pac-10 champion, Nicole is one of the most decorated female student athletes in Oregon history. She turned pro in 2010 but injuries unfortunately cut her pro career short. After hanging up her spikes for a while, she began working in marketing in the running industry. It was there she fell back in love with the sport. 



“Running with my coworkers, who quickly became some of my best friends, took the pressure off the pace. Instead, I was just along for the adventure. I got roped into road-race team relays and eventually trail ultra-marathons that were competitive, but fun. I ended up winning my first 50K trail race that I didn’t even expect to finish. That was it - I was hooked again.” Today Nicole is a regular on Portland’s tracks and trails, no matter what the weather forecast says. 


“Competing and training now with a full-time job is obviously very different – as a professional, I was spoiled. Running was my job so I could be strategic about what time and where I ran my workout every day."  



“If there was a storm coming through in the morning, I’d push my workout to the afternoon. Now with a full-time job, I no longer have that flexibility. If I need to get in 60 miles in a week, I know I’ll need to run before work at 6am and again after work at 6pm. It doesn’t matter if it’s windy and pouring rain because it has to get done.”


“Luckily, the office is half a mile from a flat, fast bike path along the waterfront that goes for miles. It’s also a mile from Forest Park where you’ll find over 100 miles of rollercoaster trails. I have access to every surface and incline I need to train for whatever endurance challenge awaits.” 

The Cloudventure Waterproof
Nicole’s choice for wet trails through the winter: “The forest is cold and wet, but I’ll never cut the run short if my feet are happy. This shoe will keep my feet dry but also allow them to breathe.”
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If you’re in Portland and logging anywhere close to the mileage that Nicole puts down, there’s no avoiding the rain.  


“On’s waterproof models will get me through the fall, winter and spring rain. I love Portland but you have to imagine how hard it is to roll out of bed at 5am when it’s 35°F (1.6°C) and raining? Eight months is a long time for cold, wet conditions."  


“Usually with waterproof products, you have to sacrifice breathability for dryness. With On’s waterproof collection, nothing is sacrificed. My feet stay dry and cool, not suffocated like with other waterproof models I’ve tried. 


“There’s no more turning back and cutting my runs short because of frozen toes. I’m a tough cookie but soaked and frozen feet are game-ending. Especially when you’ve got a 20 mile run on the schedule.” 


The Cloudflyer Waterproof
Nicole’s choice for long runs on the road: “I need a little stability and extra cushioning for Sunday long runs. Waterproof protection helps keep me motivated to run the distance even in the wettest conditions.”
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“Winning that 50k race recently felt amazing. It’s been a while since I reached a runner’s high at the finish line. I celebrated for a day before thinking about my next challenge. I don’t like living without physically challenging goals; otherwise, are you really living?"  



“I decided within a few days what was next: an Ironman 70.3 next year because, why not? I have zero experience biking or swimming but I’m excited to give it a try. This will require a lot more road running than before but I won’t be a stranger to the trails. Forest Park will always be my favorite place to run in Portland.” 


The Cloud Waterproof
For urban exploration in all weathers
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We are testing our new waterproof collection with runners in some of the wettest locations on the planet. We eliminated excuses in Bergen, Norway, where it rains for up to 240 days of the year. Then we conquered the“Alps of the ocean” in Yakushima, the wettest place in Japan. Wherever you are, eliminate your excuses with the On waterproof collection