Race Pros & Cons
There are more pros than cons to this race, so I'll start with just a few reasons why we loved it so.
This 13.1 mile course is probably the most scenic I have ever run, leading you around Vancouver on the sea wall with a lap over and back the Burrard Street Bridge in which you pass by the lululemon Headquarters and hit your hills for the course. My favorite part of the course was kilometers 14-19 running around Stanley Park. The views were just incredible!
Running along the sea wall, you don't need much motivation or fan support since the views are inspirational themselves, but around almost every corner we ran into pockets of screaming fans, folks dressed up as mermaids, cheerleading squads, and the infamous lululemon signs. In terms of cheering sections, it was one of the most creative and FUN races I've seen!
Who doesn't love some good race swag? With your registration fee, a limited edition pair of training shorts were mailed to you pre-race, and on race day, you were gifted a drawstring bag with flip-flops and other goodies. Flip flops = the BEST idea ever, and one that I have not seen before at other races. Have you? The The race medal was simple but awesome, too!
I was very impressed with the email communication for this race and the ability to have questions answered via Twitter. And in addition to the race itself, there were several outdoor yoga classes and a fun after-party. I didn't participate in these due to flight issues, but heard nothing but positive remarks from those who did.
This race was just plain ol' FUN. I hadn't trained much heading into it, but I never felt pressured. I would say that a lot of people who ran this race are athletes, not necessarily runners trying to PR. Everyone was just out to have a great time running around a beautiful city with their best friends.
But with every race, there are some cons. While not many, I did notice a few things that I think could be improved upon for 2013.
Unfortunately, friends were not allowed to pick up race packets for you due to each participant having to sign a medical waiver upon receiving their wristband. This became a huge worry for me as my original flight was cancelled and I ended up arriving in Vancouver at midnight the night before the race. I was initially told via email that I could not get my packet race morning, so I was basically out of luck. However, I was later informed via Twitter that due to others having the same travel delays, they were opening pick-up on race morning. This should be implemented for 2013, along with having each participant sign the waiver online when registering. Because no matter how hard some people try to get there earlier (I was delayed two whole days) sometimes it just isn't possible.
I personally feel there could have been more aid stations on the course, especially some with more electrolyte/sports drink options. I believe the on-course electrolyte beverage was nuun and it was either mixed improperly or I just had a bad personal experience, because I could barely drink it.
Registration was $128 Canadian dollars. Definitely high on the race scale, but after experiencing the race and getting my goodies, I can see how the money was spent.
My Race Recap
As previously stated, we had a few hiccups on our way to Vancouver so it was probably a good thing we went into the race planning to just enjoy our running tour of the city. With only five hours of sleep, we laced up our sneakers and made our way to the convention center for packet pick-up.
I ate a chocolate PowerBar and chugged a G2 before running into my friends Amy and Ann from Penn State. Before we knew it, we were off and running at a decent 10-minute mile pace. My legs and body felt good until mile 7 or so when we hit the Burrard Street Bridge. Even though I love running hills, I decided to walk the bridge on the way back since my HR was a little too high for my liking. We kept it steady through Stanley Park at which point Shaun's knee started bothering him, so we decided to walk a few miles. Normally I would have been mad at myself for walking, but you know what? I was just loving the day, the sightseeing and doing this no-pressure race with my husband since he so willingly obliges when I sign him up for half-marathons and such :)
We picked it up for the last couple of miles, although after walking it was really hard for my legs to get moving again. We finished in 2:47 and I was not one bit ashamed with my time. I had an awesome morning with great friends and Shaun running around one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and I can't wait to do it again in 2013. Although maybe I'll go a little faster then since I'll be fresh off my Half Ironman finish!
We lucked out with amazing weather in Vancouver, since it's not uncommon for it to be raining and cooler. After the race, we showered up and hit the town to explore. No rest for the weary!
We took the ferry over to Granville Island to see some professional rock stacking and grab lunch at Go Fish. I had the salmon taco and it did not disappoint. Neither did the views!
We decided to rent a car and drive out to Whistler to take advantage of the beautiful weather and visit a new-to-us place. So glad we did this, as the drive alone was spectacular!
Want more photos? You can see all 100+ from this trip on my Facebook page.
What has been your favorite running race and why? Do you plan vacations around races?