5 Reasons Why Vancouver is the Best Running City

Posted: February 21, 2015 in My Story, Training, Travel
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Vancouver running

Vancouver is ‘the best place on earth’. Or so the propaganda goes. A fixer-upper here is more expensive than a mansion in other parts of the country. Regular folk can barely afford to live here. But there’s a reason people come to Vancouver – and why we stay (even if we have to survive on Mr Noodle and live in a shoebox). And that reason? Wait for it…

While on a training run today, I said to my buddy that I probably wouldn’t have become a runner if it weren’t for the fact that I live here. Never been to Vancouver? Or need a reminder of how awesome it is? Well – I’m here to give you 5 Reasons Why Vancouver is the Best Running City!

1. The Scenery

Canada’s northern coast is…the Arctic. It’s frozen most of the year. The East Coast is rocky and windswept. Wild beauty, battered by hurricanes and blizzards.

In contrast – the West Coast. Vancouver sits smugly between the mountains and the ocean. On a good day, you can go skiing in the morning, play beach volleyball in the afternoon, and go kayaking in the evening. (NOTE: It’s not me who would be doing these things, but this is what I’m told people do.) And whatever outdoor activity you happen to be doing – in my case, running – it’s beautiful! Mountains! Trees! Water!

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Running in Stanley Park

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English Bay – February 21, 2015

2. The Climate

There’s the old joke that Canada has two seasons: Winter. And July. Well, Vancouver is red-headed stepchild of Canada (which is meant to be a compliment to all gingers in mixed families!) – we arguably have two seasons, as well: Summer. And Wet.

I’ve written about Running the Rain before – and, to be sure, if you want to run in Vancouver, you’ve got to accept that you’re going to get wet. Heck, I’ve probably run more rainy days than not. But except when it’s a sleety kind of rain, it’s more often just drizzly. Relentless, never-ending showers. So yes, people get gloomy during the short, damp winter days – heck, they should probably get out for a run!

But when the seasons change, it’s glorious. Everyone is out and about! Take today as an example. It’s late February, and this is the weather:

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The blossoms are out:

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Plum Blossoms

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Daffodils

And when summer arrives, it’s warm and dry, the days are long, and there’s nothing to complain about (except the heat).

For a runner, being able to train outdoors year-round, without risking an icy tumble or frostbite, is a true blessing.

3. The Seawall

The Vancouver Seawall is 22km of sheer brilliance. Given the scenery (see #1 above!), it really doesn’t get much better than this. I’ve done both training runs and races on the Seawall – it’s steps from my home and from my workplace, which are on opposite sides of Downtown. It’s a runner’s dream.

Sure, the Seawall has its shortcomings. On sunny days it’s crowded with locals and tourists out for a stroll. Runners weave in and out between pedestrians and dogs. I call the Yaletown stretch of the Seawall the #dogstaclecourse. And occasionally, when walkers and cyclists are forced to share the path – well, it doesn’t always end with smiles. There’s a lot of animosity there. Seriously.

But on the whole, it can’t be beat!

My nemesis, as I’ve mentioned before, is the Seawall the encircles Stanley Park. I’m getting over it. And it’s still one of the best views in town.

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English Bay / Burrard Bridge

4. Races Every Weekend

All of these factors combine to make Vancouver a great place to race – and this is evidenced by the sheer number of race opportunities in town (or very nearby). Put in just a wee bit of effort, and you could literally register for a race every weekend. Although Vancouver proper has just one marathon (the BMO Vancouver Marathon), there are countless half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, and a variety of other distances. For example, in March, I have three races scheduled:

If I wanted to, I could add races the other two weekends with ease. Don’t believe me? Here’s a taste: http://runguides.com/vancouver/runs (OK, I’ll admit things are a bit light in December and January, but you get the idea.)

5. The Running Community

I love Forerunners. Coach Carey is the bomb. The people I run with are amazing. Remember when I first went to Forerunners in 2010? I didn’t know what I was doing. And if it hadn’t been for the people who welcomed me in that day, maybe I would have given up on running.  But I’ve made some amazing friends, met so many talented, motivating and dedicated people.

There are other running groups and clinics. Other neighbourhoods, training for people at all levels and all ages. I’ve found the community that takes care of me. I’m sure it’s not unique to Vancouver – but I’ll give the city credit because it’s a place that inspires athleticism in so many forms. And while I still hesitate to call myself an athlete, I’ll accept that I’m a runner because this is my home.

Some of my Forerunners peeps:

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What makes your home an awesome place to live?
What (or who) motivates you to get out and do what you do each day?

Comments
  1. Robyn Petrik says:

    One of the reasons I’m so excited to move home to Vancouver from Edmonton is being able to run outside year round. Maybe I’ll finally stick with running!

  2. I LOVE Vancouver, when I was there I did run, but it was 13 miles on a hotel treadmill because I woke up at 2 am and couldn’t go back to sleep and it was mid Feb so I wasn’t going out alone at that time in the middle of winter. I’d love to get back and run outside there though, it was one of the most beautiful places I have been to!

    • bjcjapan says:

      Haha – I don’t blame you for not heading out into middle-of-the-night Vancouver for a run! I wouldn’t either. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit here and hope you get a chance to come again and experience the great outdoors!!

  3. Ima Mosier says:

    Sold! Vancouver looks like a great place to run. A lot of that might have to do with your amazing photographs. Great post with amazing pictures.

  4. Those pictures are gorgeous! I may have to visit one day!

  5. egercke says:

    Three cheers for Vancouver! And red-headed stepchildren!

  6. Next time you’re visiting Forerunners, give yourself some buffer time, and come visit me! As you know, I live 1/2 a block away. 🙂

  7. I haven’t been to Vancouver in probably 12 years??? When I was a flight attendant we flew in there and I did overnights but I’m sure it’s changed. It was a cool town. Thanks for the post!

    • bjcjapan says:

      Vancouver is a pretty cool city! 🙂 That’s awesome you were a flight attendant! The city has definitely changed and grown in the last 12 years – so many more condo towers than there used to be!!

  8. alsoranagain says:

    Vancouver *is* a great running city. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the perfect running temps and beautiful views that Van has to offer. My first half was the BMO Van Half and it couldn’t have been a more perfect race to run as my first half. I have also run the SeaWheeze a few times. I have to admit, though, that I don’t like running on the Seawall during races because it has the effect of seeming like it will never end.

    • bjcjapan says:

      Oh my gosh! Your first half marathon was *my* first half marathon!! BMO Half Marathon in 2011! However, it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete! You certainly were a bit quicker than me! 🙂 I agree that the Seawall often seems like forever, but it’s started to grow on me.

  9. Wow!! I have never been but it looks and sounds fabulous! I will add a Vancouver Half Marathon to my bucket list of races!