Seawall Race – Course Preview

Posted: October 7, 2017 in Race Reports, Training
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Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the 47th Annual James Cunningham Seawall Race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

In my previous post about the 47th Annual James Cunningham Seawall Race, I talked about the race’s history (as well as my own history with the race!). Today, I decided to run the course, and share a few highlights along the way, including some history of the sights you’ll see when you run!

Second Beach – Start and Finish

seawall race

The cover photo shows the view from Second Beach, and this year’s Seawall Race starts right next to the Concession. There is sure to be lots of energy and excitement before the race! From here, you’ll head east towards Lost Lagoon.

Lost Lagoon – Kilometre 1

seawall race

Lost Lagoon was a tidal mudflat until 1916, when the construction of the Stanley Park Causeway cut it off from Coal Harbour, creating a landlocked lake. The Squamish name for the area was Ch’ekxwa’7lech, meaning “gets dry at times”. Here a great link about the history of Lost Lagoon, with awesome historical photos.

Vancouver Rowing Club / Royal Yacht Club – Kilometre 2

seawall race

Once you run under the Causeway, you end up on the Seawall proper. You’ll pass the unmistakable Vancouver Rowing Club building, and have a view of sailboats moored in the harbour, with the cityscape as a backdrop.

9 O’Clock Gun – Kilometre 3

seawall race

Just past Deadman’s Island – formerly a native tree-burial cemetery, now a naval base – you’ll come across the 9 O’Clock Gun. The cannon, which was cast in England in 1816, is fired every night at 9pm. In 1894, the gun was brought to Stanley Park, where it was fired at 6pm to warn fishers of the nightly close of fishing. Eventually, the time was changed to 9pm to allow ships in port to set their chronometers accurately.

Brockton Point Lighthouse – just past Kilometre 3

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The original Brockton Point Lighthouse was built in 1855, and had a lighthouse keeper; the current lighthouse was constructed in 1914.

Girl in a Wetsuit / Empress of Japan – Kilometre 4

seawall race

People often mistake the statue in the water for a mermaid, especially when she’s partially submerged. She is, in fact, a bronze sculpture named Girl in a Wetsuit, cast in 1972 by artist Elek Imredy.

seawall race

Just beyond, you’ll see a replica of the figurehead of the RMS Empress of Japan, an ocean liner built in 1890-1891, and owned by the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. The current figurehead is a fibreglass replica of the original, which is kept at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Lumberman’s Arch – Kilometre 4.5

seawall race

Although it’s slightly off the Seawall, Lumberman’s Arch is an important spot in Stanley Park. The current cedar archway was built in 1952 to honour BC’s lumber industry. However, the area is known as Xwayxway in the Squamish language and was home to Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-waututh people over the course of about 3000 years. In the late 1800s, the native inhabitants were forcibly removed, and the village demolished to make way for Stanley Park Perimeter Road.

Lions Gate Bridge – Kilometre 5

seawall race

You’ve just passed the halfway mark – and you can see the iconic Lions Gate Bridge in the distance. Named for ‘The Lions’, a pair of North Shore mountain peaks, the bridge was opened in 1938. Construction was funded by the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness family), as the bridge provided access to their West Vancouver British Properties. This article shares a bit more of the not-so-spotless history of West Vancouver property.

Lions Gate Bridge – Kilometre 6

seawall race

You saw it a kilometre ago – now you’ve finally passed underneath it! There’s a wee lighthouse here – built in 1948 – to guide ships through First Narrows. It’s interesting to note that the area used to be known as Calamity Point (but let’s hope that doesn’t reflect your experience of the Seawall Race!). Great little history article here.

Siwash Rock – Kilometre 7

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You know you’re nearly there when you round the bend and see Siwash Rock, a rock formation knowns as a sea stack. The Squamish name for the rock is Slhxi7lsh (or Sklash) – and its name is not without controversy. As recently as last month, a motion was made to seek approval for renaming the rock, since the term ‘siwash’ has been used as a derogatory term for those of Indigenous heritage.

Memorial to James Cunningham

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Blink and you miss it – just past Siwash Rock, on the cliff rock face – there is a plaque dedicated to the stonemason who built the Seawall, and the namesake of the Seawall Race, James Cunningham.

Third Beach – Kilometre 8

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It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful – it’s Third Beach!

Second Beach – Kilometre 9

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Because the Seawall Race is 9.6 kilometres (the length of the original Seawall, which is now over 28 kilometres long!), you’re almost there. As soon as Burrard Bridge comes into view, you’re really just steps away! Here you are, rounding the Second Beach Pool.

Congratulations! You’ve made it!

Event Details

When: Saturday, October 21 at 10:00am
Where: Starts at Second Beach in Stanley Park
Price:  $60
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