Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Big Elf Run as part of being a WestVanRun Ambassador. Don’t forget to register for the West Van Run (5k / 10k) on March 4 & 5, 2017. Use the code ‘bradley‘ for 15% off!
*Once again, special mention to Debra Kato (aka Toffeefruit Wintertree) for many of the photos in this post – despite the wacky weather, she kept taking pictures! And also to Misa Ko (Scarletfrost Greentea) for some of the scenery shots!
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not really into costumes. Debra – who faithfully dresses in some of the wildest and most appropriately-themed race outfits – has consistently tried (and failed) to get me into something other than my usual gear. However, I made an exception for the Big Elf Run!
I usually wait to the end of a post to make comments like this – but I have to start with a HUGE thank you to race CEO (Chief Elf Officer) aka Mr. Fizzyboots Trufflebeary for his tireless enthusiasm and elfsome good-naturedness at this fun-filled race! This man is the true personification of what an elf should be!
I also want to note that fundraising proceeds from this event went to a very worthy charity – Canucks Place Children’s Hospice.
As predicted, it snowed on Saturday night, and continued through until Sunday morning. And then it kept snowing. Big fluffy flakes. The rain that was meant to arrive by noon? Nope. Just more snow. Toffeefruit Wintertree came to pick me up with Sammy Candycane and Skittle Plumdancer in tow, and we cruised very slowly to the parking lot near Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park.
And it was cold. And snowy.
We trudged our way to the start line to pick up our race packets. These included our elf-branded race bibs, a handy carry bag, a mini Santa ornament, a pepperoni stick, and our very own elf toque!
Now, Toffeefruit had promised to help me with my outfit, so I had my own hat to wear…but this one will come in handy for future races I’m sure! I was also very pleased to model my hand-tailored costume – an elf tunic (?) and elfie boots – courtesy of my very talented and crafty spouse. His creativity with costumes – initially Halloween but now Christmas – continues to impress.
If our place was big enough for a craft room, he might have gotten a hot glue gun for Christmas!
The West Van Run crew who braved the elements huddled together for warmth.
And a special shout out to this awesome elf – Candycane Emberbaubles – for her irrepressible style and generosity!
And then, as the snow fell, Mr. Fizzyboots led us in a much-needed warmup…and probably one of the funnest ever. Warmup exercises included:
- Candy Cane, Candy Cane, Peppermint Stick
- …and many more!
Due to weather conditions, it was announced that the awards for first overall female and male elf would no longer apply – we were advised to take our time, be safe, and have fun.
I had volunteered to act as a ‘Pace Elf’ for the first time with one hour as my goal. However, all thoughts of pace goals had fallen to the wayside, and no one followed me.
Except for Sammy – who stuck with me for the whole race!
We headed out under the Candy Cane Arch, past the Aquarium and towards Coal Harbour. The terrain was treacherous – packed snow, ice, and slush. And uphill. That first kilometre was probably one of the toughest and slowest I’ve experienced in a road race. No way was I going to hit that one-hour goal!
We zigzagged through Stanley Park and connected with the Seawall, which we then followed around Brockton Point. It was tough going, but the cheerful costumes and jingly elf hats of all the participants made for a festive atmosphere, and a colourful scene against the white backdrop. It was a special kind of magical.
The downside of my costume became clear to me as my elf booties loosened and started to hinder my running. They flipped around my ankles and quickly got waterlogged. I was worried I might step on one and trip myself up. I finally had to untie them and ran with them in my hand.
The course was actually a 5-kilometre loop – so we reached the start line and had to begin again. I tossed my elf shoes into the snow.
Originally, over 400 runners were expected for the race. In the end, an impressive 151 elves finished the 5k, and 83 finished the 10k – not too shabby considering the wintry conditions! But certainly by the second loop the number of runners had visibly thinned, and the weather continued to deteriorate. But not before this action #elfie!
The scenery, admittedly, was breathtaking. The snow-laden trees were gorgeous. Ice in Coal Harbour is uncommon – and beautiful. The wind picked up as we rounded Brockton Point, and the snow stung our eyes and skin. But, like good elves, we soldiered on.
Finally, the Candy Cane finish line was in sight. Sammy and I crossed together (as we did at last year’s Great Climate Race).
Toffeefruit arrived a short time later.
We all got bundled up for the trek home. It was a slip-slidey ride through the slushy streets of Vancouver, and boy was I happy to be back in the warmth of my little cabin at the North Pole!
Oh, and great jingly bells! I was awarded a prize for entering my elf name – Snoozynose Winterbauble – into a Facebook contest! An upcoming blog post will feature my not-yet-scheduled experience at Float House…one of the event sponsors!
And Karin retrieved my discarded elf booties from the snowbank for future use! Thanks, Karin!
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice – and all the best for the holiday season!!
Chip Time: 1:02:01
Overall Place: 41/83 – tied with Sammy Candycane!
I strongly suggest visiting the RESULTS PAGE – and reading all the marvellously festive ELF NAMES! It will make you smile.
Quick Recap – The Big Elf Run
Social Media: Fabulous! Both the Twitter feed and Facebook page were very active in the weeks leading up to the race. I highly recommend following both – great information, as well as the chance to win PRIZES!
Package Pickup: There was package pickup available on Saturday, but we elected to simply do so pre-race on Sunday. It was quick and efficient, a simple table setup.
T-Shirt/Swag: An elf toque! What more could you ask for from an Elf Run?
Course: There were 2 race options – the single loop 5k or double loop 10k. The course was relatively flat, mostly on the Stanley Park Seawall, with about one slightly hilly kilometre through the park. On a regular Vancouver day (i.e. no snow), it would be a relatively easy course. There was also a 1 kilometre kids run before the main race.
Post-Race: Because of the weather and the cold, people cleared out pretty quickly after the event. We grabbed some hot tea from the David’s Tea booth, but otherwise festivities were pretty limited. I suspect on things would have been a bit livelier on a less stormy afternoon.
Organization: I was thoroughly impressed with the enthusiasm of the race director, and the management of the event despite the challenging climate. The race has been named as one of Amex’s Top 14 Worldwide Seasonal Events with a Twist – and it’s a well-deserved title!
Would I run it again? I’ve got the hat, the sweater and the booties – count me in!