Facebook informed me that Sunday (May 1, 2016) was the five year RUNiversary of my very first half marathon – the 2011 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon! And it was a great day for celebration! Here’s what I looked like in 2011:
Over the past few months, I have been running fairly consistently with the #RunVan Club on Thursday mornings at 6:30am. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person – so this is a big deal. And it speaks to the quality of people I get the opportunity to run with in the early hours! RunVan is sponsored by the Vancouver International Marathon Society and the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel – and led by a group of very dedicated runners.
I hadn’t originally committed to signing up for the BMO Half Marathon this year – but I was so inspired by the RunVan gang that I ended up taking the plunge! I’m so glad I did!
HUGE kudos to the Expo organizers!
In recent years, since I’ve run the BMO, the Health & Fitness Expo has been held at the ‘old’ convention centre. There was always a long lineup to get in, the whole bib pickup process was very transactional, and the expo itself was chaos – crowds of people milling about in all different directions.
THIS year, the venue moved to the new Vancouver Convention Centre, and it was sheer bliss! Just steps from my office, my coworker Kyla (who was running the 8k) and I ventured to the Convention Centre, decked out in BMO blue!
Bib pickup was super-quick – if you didn’t know your number, there was a printed out list on boards at the entrance. While waiting in line, ran into Siobhan (@semcc53) – one of my RunVan buddies, fresh off her Boston Marathon!
Another RunVan friend, Greg (@gherringer), was manning the course maps.
Entering the exhibition hall, we were awed at the grandness of it all!
In my opinion, the great thing about the layout was that it zigzagged through the hall, allowing you to browse the many vendors, chatting with friends along the way. We spent some time with Debra, who was bringing her usual enthusiasm to the CRS West booth (Debra and I are both Digital Champions for the Scotiabank Half Marathon!).
Also encourage you to visit the website of Arroyo – a new brand of trail running gear from local entrepreneur and speedy runner, Ben!
There were a few minor complaints from those who didn’t want to linger, and felt the expo flow made it impossible to do a beeline to the t-shirt pickup. However, I’m fairly certain there was an open passage at the edge of the hall.
We picked up our t-shirt, free transit passes – and realized we had spent over an hour enjoying the event! Well done, BMO Vancouver Marathon!
Race Day – Start Line
The Half Marathon started at 7am, and Debra had promised to take some photos at the start line before she ran the full Marathon, which started at 8:30am. I picked her up in my trusty Evo, and we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Vancouver proper.
The sun was shining, there was a slight chill in the air, but it was clear that the day would soon warm up. We ran into several friends – including Caroline, Fiona and Jeannine.
And after a few quick visits to the loo (yay for men’s urinal station!), off to the corral!
Race Day – The Course
I’ve run this route a few times, and I think I did a pretty good job of telling its story in my 2015 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race report. So I won’t go into a whole lot of detail. Here are a few of my recollections of this year’s race experience:
- The lead wheelchair racer passing everyone on the downhill!
- Awesome view of lead runners heading down Cambie Street, and up onto Cambie Bridge – with BC Place as the backdrop
- Thinking ‘if this were the Sun Run I’d nearly be done’ – on Cambie Bridge at kilometre 4
- Being left hanging when I tried high-fiving a spectator at the turnaround…she high-fived the guy ahead of me!
- Wishing I was at brunch as we passed White Spot on Dunsmuir (we ended up going there for brunch afterward, at my suggestion!)
- Passing the lead wheelchair racer on an uphill (a couple of times…but I’m pretty sure he finished before me!)
- I thought Pipeline Road was the challenging hill, but what are all these hills in Stanley Park? Were these here last year?
- Catching a glimpse of Caroline around mile 12…trying to catch her, but never quite reaching her…
- That final stretch to the finish line…cheering spectators on both sides…music and announcements and noise and just trying to reach that goal…
Race Day – Finish Line
I haven’t pushed myself that hard in a race for a while. I earned this medal!
Finally caught up with Caroline (umm…because she had stopped running) – and despite her pre-race protestations that I ‘always beat her’ in races, she bested me by about 30 seconds!
A voice behind me: “Are you Bradley?” Me: “Yep!” Him: “I read your blog all the time!” Me: “Aw, thanks! Let’s take a selfie!” New running buddy Jonathan and me (taken by his wife, who kindly didn’t steal my iPhone!):
And Michelle, our Fairmont Waterfront rep and RunVan fan!
Gathered up my green banana (ewww…), a couple bags of chips, a veggie sandwich (that I would eat much later in the day), and off to watch a few more friends finish their race. One more photo…
And then brunch time!
Not a PB, but a negative split, and Top 3 out of my 24 half marathons to date! Not too shabby!
Runner of a Certain Age Podcast
I’m also very honoured to say that – along with fellow runner, Kaella – I was featured in a guest spot on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast, hosted by one of my favourite BibRave Pros, Elizabeth! You can visit the page and download the podcast here. You should subscribe, too!!
Chip Time: 1:46:03
Average Pace: 4:59 min/km
Place Overall: 975/8720
Age Category Place: 83/439
BMO Vancouver Half Marathon 2016 – Quick Review
Social Media: BMO/RunVan does a great job of social media – Twitter, Facebook…they pay attention to what’s going on, follow up and connect. Thumbs up!
Packet Pickup: As noted in my report, this year’s Expo was a huge improvement over previous years – new venue, smooth flow of people, quick and efficient. Plus, a bunch of people I knew!! Two thumbs up!
T-Shirt/Swag: I really like this year’s t-shirt. The colour is kind of a blue-green, something I don’t already have. The design is simple but impactful, and the fabric quality is light but not too thin. The medal is similar to that of previous years, clean design, and solid. Nice!
Course: A great spectrum of what Vancouver has to offer! City streets, ocean views, Stanley Park…what more could you ask for? The one complaint I heard is that because we weren’t running the Seawall during the Half, the views of the ocean were not as spectacular. This was not my experience!
Post-Race: The flow of people at the finish line was smooth. Medals, photos, water, juice and bananas – all delivered by awesome volunteers! Other food was piled high, allowing us to grab what we needed as we went by. Baggage pickup was pretty quick. There was a ‘street party’ nearby, but I made a beeline out to meet friends.
Organization: I really thought BMO organizers did a great job this year. The one glitch (that may have been a technical issue at Sportstats) is that results were slow in coming. There were volunteers with iPads near the finish line, but the informed us the website had crashed. Many folks had Facebook/Twitter notifications popping up about them being on the run…hours after they had finished the race. This problem should definitely be addressed! Otherwise, things went off without a hitch!
Would I run it again? Vancouver’s only marathon, along with a half marathon and an 8k…as well as a marathon relay! Chances are pretty good that you’ll see me on the course in the future!