Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Vancouver Half Marathon


Have you ever had this experience? You get so wrapped up on your day-to-day that you kind of lose track of other things? Maybe it’s work, maybe it’s family and kids, maybe it’s school – for me, it was several weeks of busier-than-usual at work, combined with an online class with an exam the day before…the Rock ‘n’ Roll Vancouver Half Marathon?! Where did that come from??

When I first heard that the Rock ‘n’ Roll series was coming to Vancouver, I was really excited! But with all the summer uncertainty caused by my post-marathon injury, I didn’t want to commit. Finally, after a casual Friday evening run with Laurel back in August, I threw my hat in the ring.

And pretty much forgot about it.

Not entirely, of course. It was on my calendar, it was part of my Honolulu training plan, and it definitely had a medal that I coveted. But when race weekend rolled around, I couldn’t believe it was that time already.

Rock n roll Vancouver
My gear – going for a Hallowe’en theme!

Sunday Morning

I live 20 minutes’ walk from the start line. I got up early and had my usual breakfast, then had an easy run over. It was dead, hardly a soul there. Where are all the people? It was dark and chilly. I checked my bag and wandered around. It was still wet from the previous night’s torrential rain, but the day was looking good.

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Finally, I texted my buddy Sharon, and ended up hanging out with her at Caffe Artigiano. At this point, I learned that the race did NOT start at 7:45am (as indicated on the map that the MarathonFoto people had handed me) – but at 8:15am.

rnr time
You can see my confusion

At the starting line, I ran into a couple of folks from Forerunners. (Bob – on the left – will be my next guest blogger, sharing his NYC Marathon experiences!)

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The Race Is On!

I chose to make this another ‘naked’ race – at least, I had no music playing. It was also the first race with my new Garmin. It took several minutes to find the GPS (and I saw a few other people holding their watches to the sky, so I guess I wasn’t alone), but it was ready when the gun went off. I was also fortunate to run into the well-known blogger and Twitter personality Nikki Scott in my corral! (I should have asked her for a photo, but I was a bit star-struck!) You can read her race report here – and see her awesome costume!!

We headed east down Cordova toward Gastown. I love the sound of everyone running on the cobblestone streets! My first surprise came at the 1km marker – when my Garmin didn’t register 1km until I was well past. That caused me a wee but of concern. Was I not calibrated correctly? The rest of the race was similar – but sometimes my watch registered a km well before I reached the marker. I conclude that the course was not measured entirely accurately – my finishing distance was 21.37km – and another runner told me she encountered the same thing.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The walkers started about 15 minutes before the runners – fair enough, it takes longer! But once we started passing them (around 3-4km), things got cozy. Some groups of walkers were four abreast, and passing was not always the easiest.
  • The hairpin turns. In both east Van and Stanley Park, there were some pretty tight switchbacks. Everyone was trying to cut the tangent, and it was so crowded we were forced to walk.
  • The lady in Yaletown who was walking ‘against traffic’ and screamed at the 100’s of runners passing her by: “Share the Seawall!!” Umm…it’s a race. Only in Yaletown.

Things I liked:

  • The music. Yes, it’s the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – and there were musicians throughout the course. I didn’t recognize any of the bands, but I enjoyed the variety! Lots of fun!
  • The course – such a great tour of Vancouver! Downtown and Gastown, the Eastside, the Seawall through Yaletown, English Bay, Stanley Park, and Coal Harbour.
  • The organization. Things flowed smoothly, no hiccups.
  • The medal (see the end of my post…) – one of the coolest I have!

Around the 15k mark, as we skirted the north side of Lost Lagoon, we could actually hear the finish line announcements. I even heard the name of one of my coworkers being called. This was weird since we still had 6km to go!

I felt strong heading into Stanley Park and was delighted to recognize Laurel as we reached Brockton Point. Our exchange:

Me: Hi Laurel!

Laurel: Hi! How’s your groin?

Me: My groin is great! How’s your [unspecified medical issue]?

Laurel: Fantastic!

And then, thinking I had the chance of a PB, I was on my way.

In the end, it was not a PB – it was 30 seconds short. But given my belief that the course was 200 metres long – I think I did pretty well! In the finishing chute, I spoke briefly with Nick, a former Forerunner. Then I chatted with Mr. Canada for a while – a very talented runner and all-around good guy!

Laurel found me and introduced me to some of her friends. We all decided to forego the free beer. It was still only 10:30am and honestly – I was too cold! Perhaps if they’d had some mulled wine at the finish line…

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Final results:

Chip time: 1:48:42
Average pace: 5:09 min/km
Place overall: 964/6710
Age category place: 134/415


  1. egercke

    Yay! Congrats.Thanks for the great race report. And FYI, the course distance will always be an issue with the Garmin. In fact, most races are purposefully measured long so that they don’t run the risk of not being long enough (and thus not being “certified”). So It’s a bit unfortunate that if you’re going to run the pace by your Garmin rather than looking at km splits on the course, you have to build in a 1 min buffer.

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