The storm warnings came at us throughout the week. The hashtag #BCStorm was trending on Twitter. I was worried that the race itself might be cancelled.
But when Sunday dawned, the rain was mostly at bay and I had a smooth, uneventful drive up Capilano Road to Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver for the SHLF Run!
Never heard of the SHFL Run? You’re not alone – I hadn’t either! But as an ambassador of the West Van Run, I was introduced to SHLF, and encouraged to run and represent our Crew. But what is the SHLF Run? It’s one of those rare races with a truly personal story behind it.
The Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation was established in memory of Dr. Strachan Hartley, a UBC and McGill alumnus, who had both athletic and academic achievements. He completed medical school while battling cancer, but non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma took his life in 2007. The Foundation’s Mission is to provide youth the opportunity to achieve their full potential through sports and education. Make a difference. One of the organizations supported by SHLF is the Streetfront Alternative Program, providing disadvantaged youth with opportunities to access outdoor education programs.
As one might expect from a local race supporting youth, there were lots of kids at this event! We gathered in the gym at Handsworth, where I picked up my bib and connected with fellow West Van Run crew member, Paula!
With two distances, both Paula and I had chosen to run the shorter 5k – the 10k run involved more trails, and I wasn’t quite ready to tackle that! After a few warmup exercises, we were directed outside.
We lined up in front of the school…and see that firetruck there? Their siren was our starting gun!
I spent the first few hundred metres dodging a few (surprisingly speedy) kids who launched themselves across the starting line, but waned fairly quickly. My favourite ‘heard on the run’ quote:
Can you just carry me for 5 kilometres?
The route weaved through the residential streets until, around the 1k mark, the road sloped downward. On a map, it doesn’t look that steep. However, I couldn’t help but think, “Yikes, what goes down has to slog uphill again…” And that was, indeed, the case. I never stopped moving, but I honestly felt that I was walking.
Nearing 3k, I was given some misleading directions. The kind volunteer told us to ‘run one block, and then turn left’. However, one block up was a dead end…it was actually two blocks. The guy ahead of me actually took that turn (allowing me a chance to pass him!)
During the 4th kilometre, we hit a very short but steep uphill trail section as we crossed Mackay Creek. And a guy with a stroller passed me. *sigh*
Approaching the finish line, the rain finally started to fall. We did a half lap of the high school track, and arrived to cheers from a few big-hearted spectators huddled under tents and umbrellas. I waited to snap a few shots of Paula…who ended up winning her age group!
The after party? Bananas, (extra fresh) bagels with peanut butter, jam and/or cream cheese, coffee – everything I needed!
After changing into some dry gear, it was time to head home. Thanks to the organizers and volunteers for putting on a wonderful event, the 10th Annual SHLF Run!
Interested in donating to the Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation? Click here!
Chip Time: 24:53
Overall Place: 18/257
Age Category Place: 4/30
Quick Review – SHLF Run 5K
Social Media: While they are fairly active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, there is definitely some room for improvement on their website. I totally understand the limitations of non-profit and volunteer organizations, but I’d like to see more current content…and some easier navigation.
Package Pickup: I stuck with day-of pickup at the school, which was very quick and easy. They offered pickup on Friday and Saturday, but North Van is a destination for me, so I did it all in one trip!
T-Shirt/Swag: If you signed up early enough (which I didn’t), you could get a SHLF t-shirt! No medals, which is absolutely fine with me.
Course: The 5k course is a loop, starting and ending at Handsworth Secondary School. Downhill, then uphill – and everything before and after that reasonably flat. Stroller-friendly – yes, I was passed by a stroller. The 10k course has trails, but that’s all I know! Given the length of the race, there was no aid station for the 5k.
Post-Race: In the warmth of the gymnasium, with food and drink – a lively, kid-friendly, neighbourhood atmosphere. Lots of damp people, lots of smiles!
Organization: Very nicely put together, with professional timing and friendly volunteers. Kilometre markings would have been a nice touch, but that’s minor in my books. Overall, very well done!
Would I run it again? Yes! Next year, I want to tackle the 10k!