I’ve always wanted to run a local area race with lots of friends on course both as runners and in support of the thousands of people participating in the race. Leading up to the BMO Vancouver Marathon & Half Marathon I started to seriously consider registering, however, I was very hesitant as I am currently training for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. It’s tough when you are training for a specific race and other events come up that you want to participate in and you know that you shouldn’t because you risk injury.
Long story short and much to the chagrin of my coach I registered for the half marathon while visiting the expo on the Friday before the race. My triathlon training had me peaking at 15km the weekend before BMO so in order to avoid injury I was going to need to pace myself carefully.
For those who don’t know me, pacing is not my specialty. Steve Prefontaine said it best
“The only good race pace is suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.”
This is why my coach was nervous. We agreed on a target finish time of 1:45. The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon quickly became an exercise in control.
I’ve got to admit that I loved running this race. The route through downtown Vancouver, Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, English Bay and finishing in False Creek North is a terrific route for a local area runner or visitor.
To control my pace I found the 1:45 pace groups and decided to match their pace. The difference for me from a normal race that I run is that the pace groups were running 10 and 1’s. (Run 10 minutes then walk for 1 minute.) I stuck with the pace group and would drift ahead a little at water stations (I run with a MEC Kinetic Race Hydration Pack) but was steadfast determined to not get more than a few strides ahead of the pace group. If and when I did, I would walk until the pace group had caught up.
At the 14km mark the half marathon is in Stanley Park and starts to climb Prospect Point – approximately 1km in distance at a hill grade of 6%. Before the race even began I had decided that I would attack this hill and then settle back into race pace. The majority of the rest of the course is either downhill or flat so I knew there would be time to recover and relax.
Over the final 6km I saw a several close friends who were enthusiastically cheering for everyone and anyone. My final chip time was 1:43:11 and most importantly without injury.
Favourite Part of the Race
Out of all the races in which I have participated I would have to say that the volunteers on course at aid stations, water stations, directing traffic, directing runners or cheering people on were well above any set of volunteers of any race in which I have participated. It seemed as though every single volunteer was smiling and excited to be there. Many volunteers are on course hours before the race starts and for several hours after the first runner crosses the finish line. Races such as BMO Vancouver cannot be held without a large group of dedicated volunteers. The race experience with such an enthusiastic and cheerful group of volunteers was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.
Most Disappointing Part of the Race
In brief – race photos; or really the lack thereof. Race photos are a great souvenir of any event and it is extremely disappointing that no race photos for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon are available. This is especially perplexing because race photos are available for participants in the full marathon.
What is even more frustrating is that inquiries to race organizers about whether or not half marathon photos will become available have gone completely unanswered. I know many people who ran this half marathon as their first half marathon and having professional photo memories of that experience can be priceless. It is very disappointing that for whatever reason the BMO Vancouver event organizers decided to not feature race photos for half marathon participants. As a result I cannot recommend the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon as a race marathon for someone looking to complete their first half marathon.