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!
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…
Euan approached me after Summerfast 10K, and offered me an entry to the race. I threw caution to the wind and blithely signed up for the 30K option. As race day approached, I started to regret that decision. After running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon just 2 weeks ago, I kicked things up and did a long, slow 25K training run last weekend. However, 30K would be the longest distance I’ve run since completing the Honolulu Marathon in December 2014. So, honestly, this was a pretty big deal.
My Saturday morning sleep ended after I had the following dream:
I was running to the race, but couldn’t find the start line. I hadn’t dressed properly, and went I went to change in a nearby clubhouse (?) – then I realized that I hadn’t brought my SPIBelt or any gels/hydration. Finally, I rushed towards the gigantic start line gate, where runners were already heading through. The nearby volunteer laughed at me and said: “Not even the kids want to run with you, you’re so slow.” It was horrendous.
Lesson learned from my subconscious: be early and pack well the night before. I did both of these things.
On Saturday afternoon, we headed to Running Room to pick up my bib. Quick and painless, we received a very simple race kit, including a bag of SportsBeans. I also bought a few extra PowerGels to make sure I was fully stocked up. That evening, I took my sweet time, packing everything I thought I could possibly need for the race.
Woke early (not bright…autumn is coming, and I suck at mornings) at 5:30am, leisurely ate my oatmeal and drank some coffee, and pulled myself together. This involved my Tiux compressions socks.
By 6:30am, I was on Mobi (Vancouver’s new bike share – and one of my current favourite things!), cycling the 4km to Charleson Park.
Greeted friends, old and new, including Eric B. – who won my VanRace Giveaway! He was running the 15K.
Kirill had brought a spiffy new WestVanRun men’s shirt for me, to replace the women’s shirt I’ve been wearing (ill-fittingly) for the past several months.
Grabbed a quick group photo with the WestVanRun Crew, and then lined up for the race!
The First 10K
Like last year, the 15K folks started on one side of the start line, with the 30K runners on the opposite side.
With little fanfare (I didn’t hear a gun), we were off. The 30K took us west towards Granville Island for a 2km out-and-back, to ensure we got in the full distance. Debra caught a photo of me ‘speeding’ by.
Somewhere around 3km, my Garmin went wonky and switched itself off and on, so my distance was skewed by about half a kilometre for most of the race.
I have to be honest – the first 10K was the best. What I really enjoyed was watching all of the 15K folks on their way back – greeting, cheering and high-fiving them. This made me grin madly.
My honey was waiting near the 7km mark, and got a couple of snaps of me heading by.
Just before the 15K turnaround (i.e. our 9.5K mark), Cristina was there cheering for us! Such amazing support!
The Middle 10K
We headed into Stanley Park, skirted Lost Lagoon, and started seeing signs/km markings for a MEC 10K race happening that same morning. As we completed another out and back along a very familiar section of the Coal Harbour Seawall (where I run at lunch a couple of times a week), I saw a few MEC runners heading to their start, including Misa!
When I reached this spot, I had to stop and take a selfie because…well, if I had chosen to do the 15K, I would have been done by now!
Rounding Brockton Point, the wind picked up a bit, but the weather was warm – a bit muggy, threatening rain – so no issues. Took advantage of one of the MEC aid stations (MEC and VanRace had agreed upon this ahead of time), and enjoyed some nuun hydration!
A bike passed, and then the lead runners for MEC blazed by. A bit demoralizing, given the pace I was at! But they had just started, and I’d already been at it for 90 minutes…
The Last 10K
The Seawall was starting to get crowded with Sunday morning walkers and runners. I had lost track of most of the other 30K folks, so I was surrounded by people but kind of on my own.
At 21.1km, I snapped another selfie. Because if I had been running a half marathon, I would have been done by now!
At English Bay, starting to see some of the same volunteers who’d been there on the way out. “You’re still here!” I said to many of them – so thankful for their dedication and support!
Honey was waiting again around 22km – and I was looking a little less ‘fresh’ by this point.
Somehow, something had gone terribly wrong with the kilometre signage, because when I reached 23km – it said 27km! And then at 24km, it said 26km. Had I not a) been very familiar with the route and b) had my watch, this would have been most frustrating. As it was, it was just a bit psychologically confusing.
Rounding Science World at the east end of False Creek, I knew there was really just 3km to go. And boy, were those 3km LONG. They went on FOREVER. Familiarity with a route is a doubled-edged sword…because I could picture ever twist and turn heading to the finish line. And couldn’t believe how far away it seemed.
One of the runners I’d passed a wee bit ago caught up. I said to her: “I knew you were going to catch me!” and she laughed. And finished 3 seconds ahead of me!
Cheers from my WestVanRun Crew and a medal and that was the race! 30K in the bag!
Shannon had baked cupcakes. They saved one for me!
There were baked goods, and chips! and coffee. And I was happy.
I wandered over to the awards table to check on results. The guy asked me my age category and I was all, “Oh, I didn’t win anything anyway” but told him…and apparently, since they were giving out age group awards for the top 5…and I won! 5th in my age group (out of a whopping 6!), but that didn’t dampen my excitement!
We mingled, we stretched, we chatted…
…and then headed home for a relaxing afternoon.
All in all, a pretty successful longest race of 2016!
Chip time: 2:49:09
Average pace: 5:38 min/km
Overall place: 54/98
Place in age category: 5/6
VanRace 30K 2016 – Quick Review
Social Media: VanRace is pretty good at keeping engagement up on Twitter @VanRaceBC, although I’d like to have seen a bit more activity. The VanRace Facebook page is oddly hard to find, since it’s categorized as a Product/Service…so I think there is some room for improvement here. The VanRaceBC Instagram page was also pretty active in the weeks leading up to race day. Overall, I felt they did a reasonably good job.
Package Pickup: Identical to last year – a table set up at the Running Room on Cambie Street. Grabbed my bib and was done in a couple of minutes.
T-Shirt/Swag: There was a t-shirt available for purchase, but I already have enough race Ts! We got a bag of SportsBeans with bib pickup. The medals were small but I liked the simplicity and the translucent blue V – and the nicely matched age category winner medal!
Course: Almost the entire VanRace route is along the Seawall, with the exception of the 30K when it cuts across from Second Beach to Coal Harbour. As such, it’s a very flat course. The 15K is 100% out-and-back. The 30K loops Stanley Park, but the first 10K and last 10K are identical. The biggest challenge is that as it gets later, there are more and more pedestrians/dog walkers on the Seawall, so it can get a bit crowded.
Post-Race: Baked goods! And coffee! And chips! A very easygoing, hang-out-in-the-park finish line. Enjoyable and simple.
Organization: Things went really well – I didn’t notice too many differences compared to last year, though I may have missed some stuff since I finished about an hour and a half later (due to the length of my race). My two observations: 1) some sort of sound system would have been good at the beginning, just to get us started efficiently; 2) the race markers from 23km to the end were backwards (27km came at 23km…) – not sure what happened here, but that should have been dealt with. Overall, however, I thought things went really well.
Would I run it again? Unless I decide to train for another marathon next year, I will probably stick with the 15k! But I expect that I’ll be back!