Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Great Climate Race through the awesome folks at West Van Run! Don’t forget to sign up for the West VanRun 5K or 10K (or both!) on March 5 & 6 – get 15% with discount code ‘bradley’.
I learned about the Great Climate Race a few months ago. It was co-founded by Ben West and Mari McMillan, two folks who are truly passionate about our environment. Their commitment to combatting climate change brought about this year’s inaugural event, the overarching purpose of which was to bring people together to crowdfund for local solar energy.
Here’s how the weekend went down:
I had already committed to joining the Forerunners crew, rain or shine. And rain it did. Unlike the previous week, when the rain let up just a few minutes into a run, this day we got no reprieve. In fact, it seemed that with every step (into a puddle) we took, the rain got harder and the waters got deeper. We had the option of running 11km or 15km, but when I hit the water stop at 5.5km, I just had to turn back.
Thanks to Stephen Chung for this authentic experience
Arriving at the store, I wrung out my gloves (outside) before gathering with the other #hardcore runners for this mid-deluge photo:
Thankfully, I had brought a change of clothes – although not extra shoes, so my clean socks were soaked within seconds of putting them on. Still, I was mostly dry as I headed to the local Patagonia store to pick up my race package for the next day. In keeping with the ‘zero waste’ policy of the Great Climate Race, the package consisted of my bib.
Since the 10K didn’t start until 10am, I had a leisurely morning. I ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, and had some toast with peanut butter. Lazed around a bit. It was actually nice not having to be at a race at the crack of dawn! Then I grabbed a car2go, picked Sam up at the station, and we were off to the start!
When we arrived at Ceperley Park (Second Beach), the 2.5km race was just finishing. There were tons of people milling about, and we kept running into familiar faces.
There were public washrooms close by – hooray! – so that made life easier, especially after all the coffee I’d consumed! Karin led us in a quick warm-up, and things were under way.
I had debated with myself about whether or not to wear my singlet, since I’m still a bit self-conscious. But I wanted to show my West Van Run spirit, so I didn’t let my snow-white skin get in the way! Sam, Sarah, Ben and I huddled together between the 40 minute and 50 minute pace bears.
The first kilometre involved some serious puddle-jumping, as we looped the park and ran along the Lost Lagoon trail. Soon enough, we connected with the seawall, and started our counter-clockwise loop of Stanley Park.
You may recall from my Rock ‘n’ Roll Cunningham Seawall 10K that we did a clockwise loop. I debated at that time which direction was harder, at least from a psychological perspective. On this race day, I concluded that the hardest direction is whatever direction you happen to be going! That is my final word on the topic (until I change my mind!!)
The volunteers along the route – including those holding the kilometre markers – were fantastic. So enthusiastic and cheery! I have so much respect for the folks who stand out in whatever weather happens to be on order, and encourage the rest of us. They are truly the heroes of each and every race!
True to the sustainable nature of the Great Climate Race, there was a single water stop with no paper cups – we were forewarned (i.e. encouraged) to bring our own water bottles. I’m not to run with liquids, so I bypassed this station with a wave.
I was glad by now that I had elected to wear my singlet, because I was HOT – but still smiling (mostly because I passed the 50 minute pace bear… you can see him in the background!). Debra was smiling in her polar bear cap, too!
At one point, a young woman in yellow passed me, ran about 100 metres ahead, then turned and went back. As she passed from view, I heard someone cheerily shout, “You’re going the wrong way!” I cringed a little, thinking back to the awful experience I had during the Scotiabank Half…that is a phrase I will never utter again.
Up until this point, my legs had been feeling a bit heavy. But as we got close to the 8km mark, I forced myself to pick up the pace. One of my internal mantras, picked up earlier this year, is: “Don’t pass anyone in the first kilometre, and don’t let anyone pass you in the last kilometre.” I pushed myself to get ahead of some of the folks in front of me…and then THE GIRL IN YELLOW passed me!! Yep – she passed me again, even after running back behind me! Harumph.
Rounding the final corner, I realized with a mild groan that the race ended on an uphill. And then I saw Sam’s blue ponytail bobbing along up front and I forced myself to gun it and catch up with her. While I didn’t grab her hand in a victory wave (she had earbuds in and I didn’t want to freak her out), we crossed the finish link at the exact same moment, true West Van Runners!
Chip Time: 48:55
Average Pace: 98/742
Place Overall: 12/49
Age Category Place: 4:53 min/km
Not much to report – quick and straight-forward. Dropped by Patagonia, got my bib, and I was on my way. If it hadn’t been for my wet feet (thanks to a run in the rain just before), I might have hung around a bit. But I didn’t.
In keeping with the sustainability theme of the race, no t-shirt (though they did have some fun trucker caps for sale!). The ‘medal’ was a cute leaf on a string.
Counter-clockwise on the Stanley Park seawall. Almost entirely flat. Scenic – with views of the ocean, the park, the North Shore mountains…everything you’d want from an environment-themed run in Vancouver! One aid station without paper cups – you had to bring your own water bottle!
Climate bear was there to welcome us to the finish line! Apples, bananas, CLIF Bars and (as long as you had your own water bottle, or bought one on site) water. Friends and fun!
Would I Run It Again?
Yes! I was glad to be part of the inaugural Great Climate Race, and I look forward to seeing how things progress in the coming years.
And while I’m at it, I’m linking up with Marcia from Marcia’s Healthy Slice for Tuesdays on the Run!