Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Steveston Icebreaker 8K 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!
*Also, special mention to Shannon Banal for the amazing race photos in this post!
With bitter memories of my most miserable race of 2016 swirling in my head, I ventured out for my first race of 2017 – the Icebreaker 8K in Steveston, BC. And whereas last year the weather involved a cruel combination of wind and rain, and I was suffering from a lingering man-cold, this year there was a chill in the air but the skies were clear. And if this race is at all indicative of what is in store for running in 2017, I’m not going to be disappointed!
The hosts of the Icebreaker – the Kajaks Track and Field Club – organized a top-notch event. A few of the things that make this race so special:
- Unless you’ve done a Club Fat Ass race, the Icebreaker is probably the first major race event of the year in the Lower Mainland – that is a draw, in and of itself
- The event is part of the Lower Mainland Road Race Series, which includes a variety of fantastic race events. As a result, there is a very competitive field, and representatives from many of the local run clubs
- The out-and-back course along the Fraser River dyke is flat and fast and, on a good day (like this one!), very scenic
- Post-race events are fabulous…more on that in a moment
Steveston is a bit of a hike from downtown, but I jumped on the Canada Line for the ride to Richmond.
My friend and fellow Forerunner, Lucy, offered to pick me up at the station, just like last year. We were joined by West Van Run star, Samantha. It was just a quick jaunt to the Steveston Community Centre.
We mingled with a bunch of the Forerunners gang, keeping warm indoors before deciding we were ready to brave the cold morning air. Thanks to a bag check at the start line (which is a couple of blocks from the Community Centre), we were able to stay bundled up until the last minute. It was a crisp, clear morning – the temperature sitting at a frosty minus 7 degrees Celsius.
Unexpected benefit – an amazing sunrise!
As we gathered at the start line, I was concerned that I might be seeding myself too far forward with all the speedy kids, but once the gun went off, I was no longer close behind them!
Differing from last year’s course ever so slightly, the route is a simple out and back along the Fraser River. It winds a bit through residential streets and skirts the edge of the marina, but otherwise you pretty much have a river view. Because of the cold weather we’ve been experiencing, there were a few small icy patches to help the race live up to its name, but nothing that impeded progress on the road.
Although I pulled my BUFF up around my face a bit during the first kilometre, the cold didn’t bother me much once I got going. I actually found it quite invigorating. Plus, it wasn’t raining!
The first couple of kilometres were a bit of a struggle, but then I got into the swing of things and the turnaround came up sooner than expected. Of course, the lead runners were heading back long before that, but there weren’t as many people to wave to on my way out as there were last year. I was feeling strong.
By the final kilometre, the number of runners around me had thinned out. Just a couple of guys ahead, one girl nipping at my heels. An older gentleman with an unusual gait but remarkably consistent speed held the lead, and try as I might I was never able to catch up with him!
However, I was able to crank up my pace for the final 100 metres or so, and managed to cross the finish line with a pretty respectable time, and a course PB (i.e. faster than when I was sick and cranky in 2016).
Enjoyed cheering on a few of my West Van Run teammates, who arrived soon thereafter! Shout out to Sam, Lyanna and Karin!
Back in the warmth of the Community Centre, we were treated to a fabulous selections of edibles, including:
- Pizza (Boston Pizza)
- Grilled Cheese sandwiches (from Zee’s Grilled Cheese)
- Vegetable soup
- Bananas & oranges
- Cinnamon rolls, muffins, and Timbits
Then there were the door prizes! A long list of bib numbers was posted, allowing winners to claim a variety of prizes. Our team had a good showing, with Lucy winning a coupon to the Flying Beaver, Sam a coupon for fish & chips, and me a Running Room gift card! Not too shabby!
A few grand prizes were drawn, and the overall winners of the race presented with their medals. Rounds of applause for everyone!
And with that, the first race of the New Year was a wrap. Thanks to Kajaks for organizing, and for all the volunteers! Great start to 2017!
Chip Time: 38:53
Average Pace: 4:47 min/km
Place Overall: 95/242
Age Category Place: 19/35
Quick Recap – Steveston Icebreaker 8K
Social Media: The Icebreaker Facebook page is a good source of information, and free race photos are posted! And while the race itself doesn’t have a Twitter handle, you can follow @KajaksTrack for all the latest news!
Packet Pickup: Lucy kindly picked up my race packet the day before because I was too lazy to venture out of the house. There was package pickup available morning of the race as well, and they moved things along pretty quickly.
T-Shirt/Swag: No frills in terms of swag…just a fun, well-organized race.
Course: Flat out-and-back course, mostly on road with a wee bit of gravel alongside the river. The final stretch is straight and, arguably, fast (depending on who you are!)
Post-Race: I love that we can gather inside to warm up at the Steveston Community Centre after this race! The food selection was great – pizza, 3 kinds of grilled cheese sandwich, veggie soup, fruit, and various types of dessert. One of the highlights is the amazing array of door prizes, and I had the great fortune of winning won. Fantastic!
Would I Run It Again? As promised in my 2016 race report, I came back and bested my time for a course PB. All things being equal, you’ll probably see me back next year – because it’s an all-round great race!