It was just me and 40,000 of my closest friends. That’s the joke, right, with these massive races? I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you hadn’t heard, the Vancouver Sun Run is the largest 10k in Canada (and 3rd in North America). It’s massive. It can be pretty overwhelming. And it’s such a lot of fun!
The Sun Run is a Vancouver institution. So much so that companies small and large register teams and usually cover entry fees for their employees (and sometime for friends and families – or, as I like to call them, ‘ringers’). I’ve never had to pay to enter the Sun Run!
The Corporate Team Challenge pits companies in the same industry against one another. If company teams have ten or more registrants, the average speed of the top ten runners decides the winner.
One of my April goals was to be in our company’s top ten.
I’ve been training fairly consistently in preparation for upcoming half marathons. The preparation for the Sun Run was part of that. However, I don’t consistently hardly ever do speed work. It’s not that I don’t recognize its value. It’s just that I’m not as motivated as I should be. Long slow runs? No problem! Quick lunchtime runs? In the bag! But speed work is the missing link. I learned that today.
I had prepped my gear the night before. The weather report called for sun – and delivered! Bright and clear with just a hint of chill in the air. Headed to the start line about an hour early, with enough time for a potty break. I was able to discard my throwaway hoodie (to be donated) well before the race began.
I was in the Yellow corral – the first one behind the wheelchair and elite corrals. I wanted to get ahead of as much of the pack as possible! It was good energy – with about a dozen giant beach balls being tossed around by the crowd. Eventually, though – and after being hit in the head about 5 times – it got a little old. The kids loved it, but I wasn’t the only one who tired of it pretty quickly!
I spoke briefly to a colleague and his wife (who I knew were fast runners), and saw a couple of our distinctive branded shirts in the crowd. Our company provided technical t-shirts to all runners, which was pretty awesome!
About 5 minutes after the elites headed out, we were
off funneled into a narrow channel to shuffle across the start line.
I’m familiar with the course – the Sun Run was my first race ever, and this is my fifth time running it. It’s a quick 1km downhill, a few tight corners and then along the edge of Stanley Park. Once you hit English Bay, there are bands or DJs every kilometre or so (including a choral group performing an admirable rendition of Madonna’s Like a Prayer!)
A short, steep hill just before 5k (familiar, since it’s a block from home), followed by good old Burrard Bridge.
A few twists and turns and then the final, brutal climb up the Cambie Bridge on-ramp. The last kilometre down off the bridge to cheering crowds.
I passed one of my colleagues heading onto the bridge – and saw two more cross the finish line just ahead of me.
Once the race is over, we head into BC Place for refreshments, and to connect with our team. I chatted with a few of my fittest coworkers, including Chris – who had thrown down the gauntlet to me in this race. He claimed victory – beating me by over two minutes! This is my reward to him:
Homemade, if you can’t tell!
Overall, this race was a success. While not a personal best, it was a course PB – when I last ran it in 2012, my result was 57:39. As such, finishing with 47:08 was not too shabby – given it was a 10 1/2 minute improvement! And while I didn’t finish in the top 10 for the company, I managed to squeak in at 15th place. I was up against some tough competition – well done, everyone!
Me & lunch-time training partner – Lana (plus photo-bombing toddler!)
Could it have gone better? Perhaps. Should I have trained harder (i.e. done more speed work)? Obviously. Will I tackle the Sun Run again? Absolutely!
Chip time: 47:08
Average pace: 4:42 min/km
Place overall: 1897/39045 (in 2012 it was: 9409/38850)
Age category place: 148/1654
The Sun Run is an experience of epic proportions. Because I was in one of the front corrals, it wasn’t quite the ‘crush’ of people that I’ve faced in previous years. I love the spirit and energy of this event that brings Vancouver together!
As part of the Corporate Team Challenge, I didn’t have to do my own bib pickup. Instead, we had a post-work event at the pub where shirts & bibs were handed out – along with the technical t-shirts kindly provided by our company.
The Sun Run shirt itself is a simple cotton affair (Gildan) – I generally use them for non-running workouts at the gym. Corporate Team Challenge runners get their company brand on the back as well.
2015 Shirt Design
No medals for this race – just too many people! Unless you place in your age category. Then you absolutely deserve it!
Scenic – along English Bay, and over Burrard Bridge. Very quick downhill for the first kilometre. Three hill challenges: Hornby and Pacific (just before 5km); Burrard Bridge; Cambie Bridge. Biggest challenges: tight corners from Georgia onto Denman (around 1km) and very soon thereafter heading onto Robson – with big crowds, and a lot of variation in people’s pace, it can get pretty crowded.
Good entertainment from bands/performers with live music, and a few DJs from local radio stations.
I didn’t use any of them, but there were plenty of aid stations staffed by young, cheering volunteers. They provide good signage of upcoming stations, too. I think it was mostly water, rather than sports drinks.
Held inside BC Place – good to either warm up or cool off, depending on the outside weather. Food included: bananas, bagels, and fruit juice (thanks to Spud.com and Oasis). Sponsors also provided samples: PowerBar, Muscle MLK, McDonald’s (coffee), Dairyland (chocolate milk), and Nature’s Path.
The stadium also posts giant letters so you can meet up with your team – which is great, given that 40,000 runners is a lot to sift through to find your people!
No complaints whatsoever. The Sun Run team clearly knows what they’re doing. Per everything above – top notch job. The only thing I didn’t like was the darn beach balls while we were waiting in the corral – anything flying at my head kind of stresses me out. But I’ll let that one slide. Because the Sun Run rocks!
Have you ever run the Vancouver Sun Run? How was your experience? What’s the largest race you’ve even participated in?