Conquering Stanley Park


Last week I did something I’ve never done before – I ran around Stanley Park.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I mean yes, I did run around Stanley Park, but it wasn’t my first time. I do have some experience…wait, let me explain.

If you’re not familiar with Stanley Park – other than my passing references to trail runs, or the fact that it’s been voted ‘the top park in the entire world’ – here are a few fun facts:

  • The park is (on?) a peninsula
  • It was created in 1888
  • It is just over 4 square kilometres in area (1.56 square miles) – about 10% bigger than New York’s Central Park
  • It has about half a million trees, a few of which are hundreds of years old
  • The Stanley Park portion of the Seawall (totalling 22 kilometres in its entirety) is 8.8 kilometres

And it’s that Seawall I’m talking about today.

Stanley Park
Obviously not my photo…

Yes, I’ve been around Stanley Park before. It’s part of the First Half Half Marathon (counter-clockwise); the Modo 8k loops a good chunk of the Park, cutting off Brockton Point to the east; most memorably, I ran the last 10k of the BMO Vancouver Marathon in the rain around Stanley Park (clockwise – and never-ending…). And multiple Forerunners training runs have looped the Park (usually counter-clockwise).

But, after all of that, I’d never done it solo. Until now.

Due to a prior commitment, I couldn’t attend the usual Saturday morning clinic. And as I’d just had a reminder that the Honolulu Marathon was a short 11 weeks away (now just 10!!), I knew I had to get some more mileage under my belt. So at 7:15am, I headed out all on my own – to circumnavigate Stanley Park!

I’m not a morning person, but I am a morning runner. And being out before sunrise is something special. I decided to do the clockwise route, heading along the seawall to English Bay, and heading past Second Beach to the point of no return…

And it was beautiful. A few other runners, who smiled as they passed. A couple of cyclists. But mostly just me and my thoughts (no music today), and the amazing scenery. Rounding Prospect Point, with Lions Gate Bridge spanning high above, the sunrise came into view. Fog in the distance, a lone fisherman in silhouette, and this blog post forming in my mind.

Stanley Park Stanley Park Stanley Park

When I reached Brockton Point, I realized that I had finally conquered Stanley Park. No longer that gruelling punishment at the end of the marathon – but something I could truly enjoy. I savoured the victory of closing the loop at Second Beach – and headed home, another 15k in the books.

Stanley ParkStanley Park

On this week’s clinic run (another unexpected half marathon!) took us yet again around the park (counter-clockwise…I’m getting dizzy). This time, there was rain, but I was with my people and the conversation kept my spirits up – and we conquered the park yet again!


Incidentally, after last week’s run, I went out on a tugboat up the Fraser River. That was pretty cool.

Stanley Park Stanley Park


  1. lcourtenay

    Good for you my friend! As a fellow social butterfly, I share your fear and wonder. Fear of running alone and wonder at the fact that I can occaisionally do it and actually enjoy myself!


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