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Under Armour Eastside 10kA new course. Unexpectedly good weather. A title sponsor that helped deliver a fabulous race. This was the Under Armour Eastside 10k 2017! After two consecutive years of utterly miserable conditions – particularly last year’s torrential downpour – it was such a blessing to wake up on Saturday morning to mild temperatures and clear skies. As I hopped on a Mobi bike and pedalled along Pacific Street towards the Woodward’s Building, I felt a surge of anticipation. This was going to be a good day!

Package Pickup

The day before – on Friday afternoon – I went to package pickup. The new venue was far more convenient to my workplace, located just a few blocks away at the SFU Segal Building on Granville Street. The space itself is beautiful – a high ceilinged historical building with huge windows.

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Arriving around 5pm, there were few people waiting, and I received my bib and race shirt within a couple of minutes. While there wasn’t an expo per se, the event sponsor Under Armour had set up displays of products, and provided an opportunity to try on some of their shoes.

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Also fun – the Under Armour photo booth, which allowed you to get the picture emailed immediately…and now they have my email address! I had a quick chat with Justin Kent – winner of the 2016 West Van Run. (Spoiler alert: he went on to place second in the 2017 Under Armour Eastside 10k!)

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Pre-Race

Saturday morning. The atrium of the Woodward’s Building is kind of epic – big, open spaces with art and music, and lots of people! A fabulous spot to hang out and mingle before the Under Armour Eastside 10k.

Under Armour Eastside 10k

As per usual at local races, there were lots of familiar faces when I arrived, including many of my crew from West Van Run. Debra wasn’t able to join us for any pre-race photos, however, as she was absolutely slammed at package pickup. If there’s one thing that might need improvement, it’s this…more help at the morning-of package pickup and/or more encouragement to pickup the day before. Food for thought.

Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k

At the Start Line, the morning light was just ideal for a few more photos. It’s difficult to describe, but starting the race on a downtown street with buildings towering on both sides…it was a thrilling, urban vibe. That sounds cheesy, I know, but I don’t know how else to explain it!

Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k

Our start was delayed by about 8 minutes – apparently, the police on course got called out to attend to an emergency, and we had to wait until they were back. The MC kept us informed, and the crowd was positive and energetic. The fact that we weren’t huddled together in a downpour probably helped!

Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k

The NEW Course

Completely revamped since last year, the course for the fifth annual Under Armour Eastside 10k was challenging but refreshing. It started within a couple of blocks of the turnaround point of the original course, at the western edge of Gastown. A hairpin turn, and we headed back east towards the urban wilds of the Downtown Eastside along Water Street and Alexander Street.

I want to mention here that the Under Armour Eastside 10k has a significant charity component, with proceeds and donations going to local organizations. For those with a passion for the struggles of the folks in this Vancouver neighbourhood, I encourage you consider supporting one of the charitable partners:

The route looped through old Japantown, around Oppenheimer Park, and back onto Alexander Street. We had a wee bit of an uphill over the railway tracks, but there was both a water and a cheering station, so it was manageable.

At this point, the lead runners were already heading back – I was at 4k, they were at 8k. It’s the way of things. I cheered for a few of the folks I knew, while trying my best to keep a decent pace, and knowing that the real struggle was soon to come.

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Hill Climb Challenge – Smack dab in the middle of the race there was a hill. To keep things lively, the organizers decided to implement a ‘Hill Climb Challenge’. There were timing mats at 5k and then…to capture our time running the 1.2 kilometres up and around Pandora Park…another timing mat. My time, apparently, was 5:56 and I placed 622th (out of 2796). The winner of both the hill climb and the race overall completed this loop in 3:30 (which is an unfathomably blistering pace of 2:56 min/km).

A lot of folks told me they didn’t know about the hill. I remember reading about it and looking at the elevation map. Upon further investigation, the challenge was highlighted only on social media and not on the website itself. I think more could be done with this challenge to liven it up a bit – maybe a few different prizes? Something to think about.

Under Armour Eastside 10k

The return route more or less took us back the same away, although the twists and turns were a bit different, and we took a few other streets. At one point, we passed what might have been a shelter, with lots of the locals hanging about outside. One gentlemen was clapping and shouting, “Run, run, run, run!” I think the race really added some variety to the morning routine in that neighbourhood.

The final kilometre included several corners, and the finish line literally wasn’t in sight until we turned onto Cordova Street. There is was…just 200 metres away. My honey was waiting there to snap a few photos as I did my best impression of a sprint.

Under Armour Eastside 10k Under Armour Eastside 10k

Finish line. Medals, Sweaty hugs. And another Eastside 10k in the books!

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Post-Race

I would like to have hung around for more festivities, but I had to rush to another event. However, I grabbed all the food – bananas, yogurt with granola, cookies, bagels – to make sure I made the most of things. I found the area quite congested. In future, I’d like to see more efforts to ‘move people along’ to ensure a better flow so everyone could get their refreshments quickly.

Overall, I felt that the Eastside 10k race experience has only been enhanced by the changes made this year. I’ve always enjoyed the event (weather be damned), but the course and venue modifications ramped things up a notch. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the Under Armour Eastside 10k!

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Final Results

Chip Time: 51:18
Average Pace: 5:09 min/km
Place Overall: 583/2796
Age Category Place: 46/148


Under Armour Eastside 10K 2017 – Quick Review

Social Media: Although there was an event page on Facebook, the Under Armour Eastside 10k is a hashtag (#UAEastside10K) on the Canada Running Series West channels. They are very active, and you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram. That’s how I learned about the Hill Challenge!

Packet Pickup: The new venue at SFU Segal Building downtown is convenient, spacious, and a big step up from previous years. The volunteers were friendly, and it was good to have a bit of a mini-expo hosted by Under Armour – including the photo booth.

T-Shirt/Swag: The Under Armour event shirt is beautiful, and I really like the design. The cotton race shirts of the past two years were truly awesome, but I like the versatility of the material this year. The sizes ran a bit large, but I was content with the fit of my men’s small. In keeping with all previous years, we got a dog-tag style medal that completes a wonderful (and hopefully growing) collection.

Course: Although the mid-race hill challenge was tough, I preferred it to the final uphill on the Dunsmuir Viaduct of previous years. The course was otherwise fairly flat, and had enough variety to keep it interesting. The start/finish in the shadow of the Woodward’s Building was awesome. Thumbs up!

Post-Race: Good food. Positive vibe. The flow of people needs to be improved, but I think that will be easy enough to address.

Organization: CRS West always puts on excellent events, and the Under Armour Eastside 10k is no exception. I don’t know how involved the new title sponsor was, but it was great to have a big name brand supporting the event. OH, and did I mention? Free race photos!!

Would I run it again? Five years running – since the inaugural – and I still love it. Of course I’ll be back in 2018! And now that we have a new course, I’ve got a course PB to strive for!

Under Armour Eastside 10k

Comments
  1. Well done and great review friend! Looking forward to Turky Trot?