North County Wine Run

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the North County Wine Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Back in April, I registered for the North County Wine Run and agreed to travel down to Battle Ground, WA with fellow BibRavePro, Brie. This is the story of our Washington Road Trip!

If you want an ‘intro’ to the race, be sure to read my post on 5 Reasons to Run the North County Wine Run. I won’t review them point-by-point, but suffice it to say that the run lived up to expectations!

Road Trip

I met up with Brie at about noon on Friday, and we took the Skytrain from downtown Vancouver to Surrey, where Brie had parked her car. The drive to the border was fine, but we ended up waiting in the border lineup for close to an hour. When we finally got to the kiosk, we met ‘the best border guard ever’ (he proclaimed himself!) – commenting on Brie’s hairstyle, and our upcoming half marathon. And then we were off!

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We had a great time! Brie had some fantastic stories to tell, having just returned from Europe, where she run the TransAlpine Race. This is a 250 kilometre trek across the mountains, over 7 days and through three countries. I strongly encourage you to visit Brie (Like the Cheese) and read her blog posts on this amazing experience!

It was about 2pm by the time we crossed the border. Despite an anticipated travel time of about 5 or 6 hours, we finally rolled into Battle Ground at 9:30pm. Yes, that’s right…it took us more than 8 hours to get there (including just one bathroom/coffee/food break). We checked in, and prepped for an early Saturday morning.

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Pre-Race

It didn’t take long to drive to parking, which was just about a kilometre from the start line at Rusty Grape Vineyard. We waited for the shuttle, which was coming quite regularly – but when we didn’t make it on board, we decided to walk/run instead. Just a little warm up.

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Having arrived so late the night before, we did our package pickup on site. This took no time at all.

And if you don’t know them already, meet Julia & Dylan!

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Julia is our BibRavePro leader extraordinaire. She keeps us all organized, and building branding opportunities with various products and races (like this one). She and her boyfriend, Dylan, drove up from Portland that morning, and joined Brie and me in the race celebrations. Meeting these two in person was one of the highlights of the weekend!

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As start time approached, we seeded ourselves amongst the pacers – although there surprisingly few people in front of me! To be fair, it’s a pretty small race, but I’m not used to being near the head of the pack.

The Race

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After the countdown, the were off along one of the country roads, and I was soon disoriented, not sure what direction we were headed. It was misty, and the scenery – primarily fields and trees – had a certain sameness to it. I placed myself in the vicinity of the 1:50 pacer. He asked a couple of us if we were aiming for PBs today? No. No, we weren’t.

One of the runners nearby asked if we were going to be running up the hill we’d just run down. Unusually for me, I hadn’t paid any attention to the course map. “I hope not” was my response. My hopes were not to be realized.

I skipped the first water stop, which was only about 3 kilometres in.

The mist lingered. It was peaceful. A herd of cattle watching the runners going by.

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Olequa Cellars – the first ‘wine stop’

The course veered off the main road, and briefly turned into a cross-country road through a field. This only lasted for a couple dozen metres, and then there was ‘water on the right, wine on the left’. I was making a decent running effort, so the thought of wine just didn’t sit well. I opted for water. This was the first checkpoint for the relay teams as well.

More fields. A few farms animals. The weather began to clear. I saw a Tr*mp-P*nce campaign sign – first one in real life – which was unsettling. Through the trees, I could see a river down at the bottom of the hill (this turned out to be the East Fork of Lewis River).

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This is Ken.

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As we approached our second wine stop (again, I chose not to partake), and turned into Heisen House Vineyards, a voice behind me said: “The pack is catching up. Thanks for holding a steady pace.” That was Ken. And for the remainder of the race, pretty much every step, he was right behind me. And I credit him with keeping me on that steady pace throughout. And so I made sure to introduce myself at the end of the race. See him on my heels?

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More fields, trees and rolling hills. The race really reminded me of last year’s Fort Langley Half Marathon, except it was a bit flatter. Until the last 2 kilometres.

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Remember that hill we went down? We did, in fact, have to climb it again. Looking at the elevation profile, it wasn’t that high – but it was short, and steep. I was breathing so hard I couldn’t even curse. But I stayed ahead of the 1:50 pacer – he had passed me in the last kilometre, but I pulled in front.

A sharp final corner and the finish line was in sight. I gunned it down the final hill and sprinted across the mat. Done!

Post-Race

Very cool, unique medals that double as wine spouts. Perfect souvenir of my very first wine run!

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These girls.

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I didn’t know them but they were super friendly. They showed off the three-part relay medal(s) that they had earned.

Brie finished soon after me – sooner than she expected, and pulling off a PB in the process!

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We lined up for the pasta party and scarfed our food. Vegetarian pasta for everyone!

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Every (‘of age’) runner also had the option of a full glass of wine, or four tasting samples. I opted for the latter – and our pourer was quite generous. Enjoyed this perk!

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Both Julia & Brie placed – Julia was the second female overall, and Brie second in her age group! Congrats to both!

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Road Trip – The Return

After a quick shower & change at the hotel, Brie & I went for lunch at Rockwood Pub. It was fantastic – great beer, and the most amazing tempura battered portobello mushroom fries you can imagine!

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I persuaded Brie to take us back to Olequa Cellars for some wine tasting…and I purchased a bottle of rose to take home with me!

The drive home was considerably less traffic-heavy, but it was still a long trip. I finally stumbled through the door at 9:30pm on Saturday night.

Good wine. Good people. Good weather. Good race. Grateful for this awesome BibRave experience – and a big thanks to the volunteers and organizers of the North County Wine Run!

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Final Results

Chip Time: 1:49:07
Average Pace: 8:20 min/mile
Overall Place: 23/192
Age Category Place: 4/14

Quick Review – North County Wine Run 2016

Social Media: We got some very thorough and helpful email instructions from the race director. The social media was lacking – very little activity on Twitter or Instagram. However, they promptly posted all (free!) photos of the race on Facebook, which is awesome!

Package Pickup: They had pickup opportunities on both Thursday and Friday nights – but with our late arrival on Friday, we had to pick up before the race. Not a problem – quick and efficient – and we could toss everything into a bag for gear check.

T-Shirt/Swag: A fun and fabulous polyester t-shirt featuring the slogan “Run Now, Wine Later” – which might just become my new running mantra. Unique finisher medal, which is a bullhead wine spout! We also got a free branded souvenir wine glass.

Course: The course is ‘rolling hills’ through countryside and fields. Only one really steep hill, cursedly near the finish line, made it particularly challenging. My biggest complaint is that because the narrow and shoulder-less country roads were still open to traffic, some impatient drivers came dangerously close to the runners. A few more course marshals to ward off traffic might have helped.

Although I didn’t partake of the wine on course, I loved the opportunity to actually run through a couple of the vineyards. I’m sure the relay runners ending at those spots were happy to imbibe!

Post-Race: Loved the pasta lunch, with Caesar salad and buns. And then the free wine – who could complain? There were samples of a few other products, and free massages. Because we had to drive home to Canada, we didn’t stay as long as I might have liked, and I suspect the festivities continued late into the afternoon…

Organization: Overall, I was very impressed with how the race was put together. No surprises, and everything seemed to go off smoothly. This was a ‘fun run’ – but put together very professionally. Well done!

Would I run it again? If I lived nearby, the answer would be yes. It’s super-close to Portland, so I’d recommend it to anyone living in that area. Because of the time/cost of travel, I’d probably like to try something different next time. But if you’re on the fence…do it! Make a wine weekend of it!

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Eastside 10K

Disclaimer: I won 2 free entries to the Eastside 10K from Modo Car Coop from their #ModoMobi contest. I appreciated the opportunity to run, and to invite a friend!

Now in its fourth year, the Eastside 10K remains one of my favourite Vancouver races. In addition to the charitable component, supporting the Downtown Eastside, the race winds through some of the most historic parts of the city. It’s well-organized, and I always run into a bunch of familiar & friendly faces on race day.

Except this year…those faces were really, really wet.

Flashback to 2015 – a rainy Eastside 10K. I thought we had it rough. I was wrong.

I woke on Saturday morning to the noisiest autumn shower I’d heard in a long time. Although we didn’t have a dry summer, we hadn’t experienced anything like this. Grudgingly, honey and I both got geared up and prepared for the worst. We were very fortunate that Susan had agreed to pick us up, and we headed to the start line.

Debra had kindly picked up our bibs while volunteering the day before. We huddled underneath the PowerBar tent, awaiting her arrival. We then stowed our gear in Susan’s trunk (fortunately – since the lineup for gear check was long, and in the open air/ocean).

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I seeded myself in the middle of the Red corral – I kind of know who’s faster than me by sight, so I could determine if I was too far forward! Debra, despite the weather, still snapped a photo – and I still mustered a smile!

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Having detailed the route in previous posts (here and here), I won’t give too much info this time around. Needless to say, any part of me that hadn’t gotten soaked while waiting for the gun to go off was well and truly soaked after splashing through a few of the unavoidable puddles in the first kilometre.

Much of the race is a damp blur. Here are a few points of note:

  • The volunteers were TROOPERS. There were out there in force and yellow ponchos, full of energy and encouragement – and I bow to them. Amazingness.
  • The guy who passed me twice by cutting corners (specifically at the 5km turnaround). You’re only cheating yourself. And I finished ahead of you anyway.
  • Misa and the West Van Run cheer station in Gastown – Hawaiian-themed enthusiasm! Nicely done!
  • Although it was not a PB, I finished this race with more strength than I expected to. I paced myself well without glancing at my watch.
Eastside 10K

Photo credit: Jeannine Avelino

  • Umbrellas blocked the timing clock, and the finish line was not well marked. As I stood watching finishers arrive after me, a lot of folks stopped at the mat about 50 metres before the finish line (the one that tells the announcer your name) – and I was shouting at them to keep going!

And this is Tara. She approached me after the race saying: “Are you Bradley on the Run?” and proceeded to compliment me by saying that she reads my race reviews to help prepare for her races. This one’s for you, Tara!

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Here are some familiar folks finishing the race:

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Yuri in a Hurry!

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Nobu!

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Debra – she kept the Hawaiian theme! But my camera was slow on the draw

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Susan!!

After collecting my nifty dog-tag medal and gathering up my people, we packed it in and went home. Even after changing into dry-ish gear from the back of Susan’s car, the thought of doing anything other than taking a shower was unacceptable.

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And then went out for brunch.

What I missed, however, was an award. Not for this race, but for my place in the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series. Somehow, due to my participation and placement in my age group in the Steveston Ice-Breaker 8K, Longest Day 5K, and Summerfast 10K, I qualified! My friend Kefi kindly messaged me, and dropped off my prize – a $20 gift card for White Spot for placing 5th in my age category! Totally unexpected, and truly delightful.

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The other nifty thing about the Eastside 10K is that by running it I qualified for the Three-peat medal (earned by running this race, along with the Modo 8K and Scotiabank Half – other CRS West races). At time of writing, I haven’t claimed my medal…since I didn’t stick around after the race!

All in all – drowned rat be damned – I had a great time! Bring it, Vancouver – the Eastside 10K rocks!

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Final Results

Chip Time: 49:06
Average Pace: 4:55 min/km
Overall Place: 480/1836
Age Category Place: 36/96

Quick Review – Eastside 10K 2016

Social Media: Managed by @RunCRSWest (with the #Eastside10K hastag), consistent and responsive. Good email communication. Social savvy.

Package Pickup: Because Debra volunteered and gathered our packages for us, we didn’t need to do so. If I had had to pick up my own package, however, having it open a bit later than 6:30pm would have helped, since getting there during the work day would have been impossible.

T-Shirt/Swag: My favourite race t-shirt, one that I will wear out in public! It’s a cotton T, rather than a tech one – but I have heaps of those. It’s a great design, and a good fit. Love it! We actually got to vote on the design & colour, and I love the crowd-sourcing aspect of it. The medal continues the dog-tag theme from prior years, this time with the Woodward’s Building logo gracing the backside. Love the series!

Course: Basically a U-shaped out and back course that loops through the poorest and most historic neighbourhoods of Vancouver – as well as the touristy and progressively chic Gastown. It’s not ‘scenic’ in the traditional Seawall sense of the word, but it is evocative – and relatively flat.

Post-Race: I will reserve opinion, since I didn’t stick around. I wish there’d been more shelter, but what can you do? I got a banana and half a PowerBar. I likely could have sought out more food, but I just wanted to dry out.

Organization: Professional, like all CRS West events. My only observation was lack of ‘clarity’ at the finish line…I knew where it was, but even I couldn’t see it very well. Maybe a couple of course marshals to guide people through to the end? Just a thought…

Would I run it again? See you in 2017! Let’s hope it’s less of a swim, and more of a run!

Eastside 10K

Photo credit: Jeannine Avelino

Coho Run

Very early in my running career – way back in 2010 – I teamed up with a friend and entered the Coho Run. At 14 kilometres, it was the longest race I had ever participated in. The day dawned cloudy and miserable, and once the heavens opened – even draped in a garbage bag – I was drenched. Having had very little experience running in the rain, I kept that garbage bag on for several kilometres, until I was so hot I had to tear it off. By the end of the race, I felt bedraggled and alone – being so far behind most of the other runners – but a few stalwart supporters were there to cheer me across the finish line.

Fast forward to 2016 – and Debra (thanks for the photos!) encouraged me to sign up once again for the Coho Run. And the experience couldn’t have been better!

What is the Coho Run?

The Coho Run is a community race organized by the Coho Society – an organization formed to support “the protection and revitalization of North Shore salmon streams and rivers”. The race takes place to coincide with the Coho Festival, held annually in West Vancouver.

This point-to-point race is a great middle distance between a 10k and a half marathon, which is why I chose to tackle it 6 years ago. It’s a very unique ‘beach to bridge to beach to bridge to beach‘ race, as you’ll soon learn!

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Original BUFF®

Disclaimer: I received an Original BUFF® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Since receiving my first BUFF® product, I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve done a couple of reviews before:

When I got the opportunity to test the Original BUFF® – and to select my own design – I was thrilled! Honestly, you can’t have too many BUFF® products! I chose the pattern called MOTION because I felt the colour palette would go well with my own!

Original BUFF®

We’ve learned that BUFF® products are extremely versatile, but of course I have my favourite styles and uses, and pretty much stick with them. But since the packaging promotes “more than 12+ ways to wear”, I thought I’d give it a go and try them out!

Original BUFF®

Here are some of the ways to wear the Original BUFF® – and my perspective on them!

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VanRace

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to VanRace 30K in order to promote and review the race on my blog. Thank you to Euan, our illustrious Race Director, for this opportunity!

VanRace VanRace

When I reviewed VanRace 2015, I commented that it was hard to believe it was an inaugural race. Well, now that we’ve hit year two, I have to reiterate my opinion: this is one darned good race! Last year, of course, I ‘merely’ ran the 15K…

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SeaWheeze

Anyone who knows yoga knows lululemon athletica. Anyone who lives in Vancouver – yogi or not – knows lululemon. And like it or not, lululemon is part of the Vancouver athletic landscape. Any runner or would-be who likes yoga – or who can’t get enough of lululemon – knows about SeaWheeze.

The SeaWheeze Half Marathon launched in 2012, making this year its fifth anniversary. Previously, all I knew about the SeaWheeze was that there were a lot of women running, and that buying exclusive lululemon/SeaWheeze gear was serious business. Not being particularly brand-driven, and owning no lululemon gear myself (except some running sleeves I got as a gift a few years back), I had never felt the urge to register for this relatively pricey half marathon.

However, when both Debra and Susan encouraged me to sign up for 2016, I decided to give it a go. Why not? And that’s where this story begins…

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Big congratulations to Eric B. who won this year’s VanRace Giveaway!
Eric will be running the 15K. Find him on Twitter here.
**Register online by Wednesday, August 24 at vanrace.ca**

VanRace Giveaway

Summer isn’t over yet! That means you still have a chance to fit in one more big race before the autumn weather starts to creep in! Enter my VanRace Giveaway 2016 below to win a free entry to either the 15K or the 30K VanRace!

Last year was the inaugural VanRace – a fantastic journey along the Vancouver waterfront:  False Creek, English Bay, and the Stanley Park Seawall.  You can read all about it in my review of VanRace 2015! The WestVanRun Crew was out in full force for last year’s race!

VanRace Giveaway

Race Details

Date: Sunday, August 28
Time: 7:30am
Location: Charleson Park, Vancouver (east of Granville Island)
Cost: $54 for 15K / $64 for 30K – or, if you win my giveaway – FREE!
Website: http://vanrace.ca/

VanRace Giveaway

VanRace Giveaway

Enter for YOUR chance to win an entry to VanRace 2016. The winner can use the entry to register for either the 15k OR the 30k! Already registered? Enter to win a free entry for a friend or family member!

Giveaway ends at midnight Pacific time on August 21, 2016. Open to Canadian & US residents – as long as you’re able to get yourself to Vancouver, BC for the race! A random winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.

VanRace Free Entry Giveaway

Here’s me and Ethan, the winner of last year’s giveaway – thumbs up!

VanRace Giveaway

Why do YOU want to win to race 15K or 30K?

giveaway

Happy to link up with Smitha & Erica for their Wednesday Giveaway Round Up! Drop by to #WinAllThePrizes