Did you ever have one of those days – one of those races – that was just right?
Well, the Van Race was one of those races!
You wouldn’t have known it, but the Van Race 15k/30k was an inaugural race. With fantastic communication and social media presence from sign-up onwards, things were executed flawlessly – at least from my perspective. As you read on, you’ll learn that I have no constructive criticism for this event. Here’s how the weekend went down…
After a long hiatus due to her sprained ankle and a bunch of travel, Emily and I finally connected for a run. We did a loop around Stanley Park, ending up with nearly 15k…the day before my 15k. No matter. We took it slow, chatted the whole way, and felt pretty good as we relaxed at Starbucks for a post-run coffee.
Then, prior to package pickup, I went to physio. I’ve been having some issues with my knee, you see, since banging it (oh so very very hard) on the corner of the bed frame a couple of months back. Various pushes, prods, twists and yanks later, I was assured that there was no serious damage. But to help with alignment and pain management, I came away with this:
Package pickup was a low-key affair at one of the local Running Room stores. I met up with Ben & Keiko.
Collected my bib, and an awesome bag of jelly beans!!
Relaxed in the afternoon, and enjoyed some greasy Chinese takeout for dinner.
The day dawned cool and overcast – ideal, really, for any race day. I grabbed a car2go and scooted across Granville Bridge, parking a couple of blocks away from Charleston Park – just east of Granville Island. Soon enough, we had gathered as planned – the members of the WestVanRun Team! (Shameless plug: 10% off West Van Run registration using code ‘bradley’!)
As we lined up for the restroom, I was showing off my taped-up knee to Debra. The girl in front of us in line said: “Oh ya, I saw that on Twitter” – and with that, a social media acquaintance became an in-person friend! Nice to meet you, Corinna (aka @gusgreeper)!
Both distances – 15k and 30k – started at the same time. However, in order to get in the full 30k, there was a short out-and-back for those runners. As such, we all started at the same time – but going in different directions! I absolutely love this video of the start line:
With our head start, the 15k-ers headed along the Seawall, around Science World, and past Yaletown. The scenery, as per usual, was amazing. Here’s a single (and slightly blurry) shot of the calm waters of False Creek:
The first 30k runner passed us around the 4km mark (i.e. his 6km mark) – incredible. And then as I was passing the Aquatic Centre at 6km – the lead 15K runners (most of whom were members of WestVanRun Team!) were on their way back (close to 9km for them now). Here come Kirill, Jin, and Steve (Ben passed me, too, but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera):
At English Bay, we did a wee loop and headed back from whence we had come. Now, of course, I was encountering more of the 15k gang, as well as all of the 30k runners. Came across new IRL (in real life) friend Fiona, and Debra in her stylish tutu! (And the photo of me that Debra was taking!)
I spent the rest of the run trying to ignore my Garmin, and just enjoy the ride. I tried to smile at every runner I passed, greeting and cheering on those who were paying attention. I must have been grinning like an idiot, though, because an older couple out for a walk in Yaletown said, “You look too happy for being in a race!” But I was having a good time, soaking it all in.
The crowds eventually thinned and I tried to keep up with a couple of the racers ahead of me. As we approached the finish line, I kicked it up a notch. Although I didn’t have an actual goal time, I ended up with a result that kept me smiling for the rest of the day!
Took full advantage of the post-race yummies – including the usual suspects like fruit and water, enough Starbucks coffee for refills, and some awesome baked goods and Terra Bread! Special thanks to the volunteers!!
Hung around with the rest of the WestVanRun Team to cheer in both 15k and 30k runners, enjoyed two rounds of awards, and had an all-round fabulous time! Also – caught up with Ethan, who won my VanRace giveaway and conquered the 30k!!
Lastly, the remnants of the team trudging uphill to Debra’s ‘green machine’ for the ride home!
Final Results – VanRace 15K
Chip Time: 1:12:56
Average Pace: 4:51 min/km
Age Ranking: 8/24
Hard to believe that the VanRace was an inaugural race! Very well organized, excellent social media presence, scenic course, quick results – nothing bad that I can think of!
Packet pickup was held on Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the Running Room. Quick and friendly, with some of the excellent volunteers on hand. No expo for this race.
The VanRace t-shirt was really nice, but had to be purchased separate from registration. I do not need more t-shirts, so I didn’t get one. We did, however, get jelly beans in our swag bag!
Lovely, unique medal – a little small, but honestly that’s just an observation, not a complaint!
The VanRace 15k route was an out-and-back along the Seawall. From Charleston Park (not too far from Granville Island), it loops around False Creek, past Science World and Yaletown, under Granville and Burrard Bridges, as far as English Bay. Then we head back the way we came! The Seawall is one of the jewels of Vancouver, and this early on a Sunday it wasn’t too packed with local dog walkers! Flat and fast!
There were several aid stations with very enthusiastic volunteers. They had Northstar and water. I partook of just two. But I knew I had the support if I needed it!
Good selection of food – water, oranges, bananas, yoghurt, granola bars, baked good/sweets, Terra Bread, and Starbucks coffee! I stayed for the awards ceremonies for both 15 and 30K, but didn’t win anything.
As mentioned above, it’s hard to believe this was the first year of the VanRace. They did a bang-up job. Nice and small, well organized, friendly, good communication – and FUN! Maybe I’ll tackle the 30k next year?
Have you run any ‘uncommon’ race distances? Do you strive for the ‘automatic PB’?
What has your experience been with inaugural races? Pros and/or cons?