Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the West Van Run weekend races as part of being a West Van Run Ambassador. Be sure to join the West Van Run Crew for social runs on Saturday mornings, and Thursday evening training!
With just over 48 hours before our departure for a 2-week vacation in Japan, the epic West Van Run Weekend 2017 launched in full superhero force! I’ve written about all of the enticements to run West Van Run, and the anticipation paid off with a fun, well-executed two-day event. Costumes, friends, PBs and a lot of goodies made the weekend a huge success!
West Van Run 5K – Saturday
With threats of another snowy weekend in the forecast, I was pleased (if groggy) to wake up to dry streets and clear skies. Debra swung by to pick me up, and we grabbed Samantha on the way, arriving about an hour ahead of the 8:30am start. This provided ample time to find parking, takes lots of pictures, greet old friends and meet new ones, and get to the start line with time to spare.
As promised, the West Van Run course had shifted to begin in front of the West Vancouver Community Centre. The Centre graciously opened its doors to the 600+ racers, spectators and volunteers who gathered inside – staying warm, and with access to real bathrooms! Day-of package pickup and bag check were in full swing – but Debra had graciously picked up our bibs the day before, so we were ready to go!
On the Course
A few minutes before race start, we gathered on Marine Drive – and promptly at 8:30am the gun went off, and the revised course began – taking us west about half a block, before turning a couple of corners and sending up back the other way. Despite the sun, it was a chilly morning and the wind picked up, but I was still glad that I had elected to run with shorts and a cap, rather than tights and a toque.
I had no intention of pushing myself hard for this race. Last year, I squeaked out a personal best in the 5k, only to struggle mightily with Sunday’s 10k. Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty strong, so I just ran by feel, paying no attention to my watch and enjoying the run. Saw lots of familiar faces along the course – smiles and cheers – which always provides motivation.
Once on the West Vancouver Seawall, just over a kilometre from the end, I was starting to struggle. I channeled my inner Kimmy Schmidt (if you haven’t’ watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, just do it!), who said that you can stand anything 10 seconds – then start another 10 seconds. So, I started counting my breathing in my head – up to 10 (not seconds, but breaths, obviously). And then started over again.
It worked. I could see the West Van Run finish line just ahead. I kicked it up just enough to get myself over the finish line…with an unexpected PB! Knocked 30 seconds off last year’s record for a finish time of 23 minutes and 1 second! Clearly, I love the new course, and will give it some credit for my success in today’s 5k!
The only glitch in this year’s race was bag check pickup. Volunteers were still arriving with all the bags, shuttled over from the Community Centre. Unfortunately, nothing was organized by number, so there was a bit of chaos in collecting individual bags. Waiting around in the cold wasn’t great, but it was manageable – I hate to think what would have happened if it had been raining. This is one logistical point that needs to be sorted out.
There were multiple vendors set up at the finish line – even more than last year – and we had the opportunity to sample cookies, David’s Tea, Little Bigshot, and – if you were interested – free massage. I’d recommend visit the West Van Run Sponsor page, and support these awesome organizations and brands!
We then got in line at Beach House Restaurant to collect of goodie bags, which were chock full of amazing things – banana, croissant, yogurt, energy bar, and a huge container of 52 North Birch Tree Sap beverage. Sam and I settled ourselves at a table to await the awards ceremony, joined by some of our West Van Run Crew. Big thanks to the Beachhouse Restaurant – and to General Manager, Chris, for welcoming us in!
We cheered and applauded the winners, whose finish times boggle the mind. Huge kudos to everyone!
According to my marathon training, today was supposed to be a 30km run. Clearly, that was not in the cards. However, I decided to make the best of things are ran home – back along the Seawall, over Lion’s Gate Bridge, and through Stanley Park. I was rewarded with some amazing views.
I enjoyed an afternoon massage, and settled down for recovery…and preparation for Sunday’s 10k!
Chip Time: 23:01
Average Pace: 4:37 min/km
Overall Place: 102/608
Place in Age Category: 10/48
West Van Run 10K – Sunday
What a contrast! Vancouver woke up blanketed in…yes, again…snow. The weather networks predicted it, but you never believe them until it actually happens. We got a message from West Van Run that the race would go on! Debra picked me up as scheduled, and we drove through the wintry conditions of Stanley Park to the north shore.
Even more so today, we were happy to have the West Vancouver Community Centre in which to gather. Lots of familiar faces again, although not quite as many costumes.
As we gathered at the start line, it was evident that numbers had dwindled due to the weather conditions. As it turns out, 600 people ran the 5k on Saturday, but only about 450 people ran the 10k – which is usually the larger of the two. Darn BC weather!!
On the Course
The first two (and last two) kilometres of the 10k mirrored yesterday’s 5k. We simply added on additional distance through Park Royal Shopping Centre, and the painful out and back near Ambleside Park. While I hate to make excuses for myself, I was in pain today. Despite – or perhaps because of – a full body massage yesterday afternoon, my left glute and hamstring were sore for the duration of the race. I was never able to get up to my usual 10k pace, and decided to make the best of it.
Huge shout out to Race Force – the volunteer team who were absolute troopers in the nasty weather, and also had to deal with some nasty local residents.
Thankfully, Sam ended up joining me, so we took the opportunity to chat, to thank the stalwart volunteers, and to enjoy the scenic course. As we did during the 2015 Great Climate Race, we finished the West Van Run together!
I was sore and cranky. I collected my goodie bag (with all of the same awesome products!), and picked up my checked bag. Today, things seemed to run a bit more smoothly at bag check, so I’m assuming some systems were put in place given the previous day’s challenges.
As I was preparing to leave, I happened to hear a familiar name over the speakers – Brendan, an old coworker of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in about 9 years, so it was great to have a quick catch up!
The Forerunners team was out in force – many of them thanks to their positive experience from last year’s race – so I swooped in for a quick photo (pending!), before catching the bus back home.
Chip Time: 55:19
Average Pace: 5:32 min/km
Overall Place: 237/491
Place in Age Category: 32/60
Another successfully West Van Run Weekend – not without its challenges, but still one of my favourite race events! Thanks to the organizers and volunteers, and a huge congrats to all participants!
Quick Recap – West Van Run Weekend
Social Media: West Van Run is top-notch in terms of social media. I strongly recommend connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Race communications via email are regular and informative.
Packet Pickup: Friday was the only day for packet pickup for the 5k, although 10k packet pickup was available both Friday and Saturday at Park Royal. Debra kindly picked up bibs for a whole bunch of people – otherwise, it would have been extremely difficult for me to get to West Vancouver ahead of time. They generally discourage day-of pickup, although I believe it was still allowed. Maybe a Thursday evening option would help, too?
T-Shirt/Swag: I am already well kitted with West Van Run swag, but no t-shirts accompanied this race. Medals (and bottles of bubbly!) were awarded to the winners only. However, everyone gets an awesome and handy West Van Run water bottle. Mine is coming with me to Japan! Also – although I wasn’t able to attend – free beer at Village Taphouse at the Sunday night after party!
Course: I really liked the new course as it wended its way through the streets of West Vancouver, and finished along the seawall. There are a few small hills at the start, but the course is essentially flat. Local residents, however, seemed remarkably unhappy (particularly on Sunday – when, apparently, at least one volunteer was pushed out of the way by an angry resident, who then proceeded to drive through a barrier). I wonder if more consultation with the community is required?
Post-Race: Awesome bags full of yummy goodies, and lots of vendors set up by the finish line. The biggest areas for improvement: 1) distribution of goodie bags…everyone had to line up at the door of the Beach House to be handed their bag. Tables outside might work better. 2) Gear check pickup – something went logistically awry. A better procedure is needed here.
Would I Run It Again? Without question! Maybe next time I’ll take it easy during the 5k, and try to beat my course PB during the 10k!