CANCELLED: First Half Half Marathon 2017


First Half Half Marathon

Since I started running in 2009, I’ve completed nearly 90 races of varying distances, in all sorts of weather conditions. When the organizers of the First Half Half Marathon alerted us to the possibility that the race might be cancelled due to weather, I found it hard to believe. But then, mid-morning on Saturday (the day before the race), it became a reality. Because of conditions caused by record-breaking snowfall in Vancouver, the 26th annual First Half Half Marathon was officially no more.

We ran anyway.

First of all, let me extend my sincere appreciation to Race Director Terry Bushnell and to the organizers of the First Half. It’s a top-notch event, and I’ve run it 5 times. It was my second half marathon ever (in 2012). It was the first half marathon in which I broke the 2-hour mark (in 2013). My running crew – Forerunners – is a key sponsor. The race has a special place in my heart. So while I was disappointed by the decision to cancel the race, there was never any question that the decision was the right one. Here’s the full story:

Packet Pickup

We were assured that we could still collect our bibs and t-shirts as scheduled. I took the trip out to Forerunners to get the goods, and was handed my finisher medal as well. Mixed emotions for sure. What to do?

Realizing that if I wanted to brave the unfamiliar winter conditions, I needed something more than my trail shoes. I made a call to the Running Room, who informed me that the product I wanted could be found at the UBC store. Since we were out and about anyway, I made a beeline for Westbrook Mall. Without a second thought, I whipped out the gift card I had won as a door prize at the Icebreaker 8k, and paid the extra 39 cents for my brand new YakTrax!

First Half Half Marathon

Now I’m ready for anything!

‘Race’ Day

After a flurry of text messages, it was agreed that we would all meet at the Roundhouse Community Centre at 8:30am as scheduled – that’s when the race was meant to begin. The gang from Forerunners made a strong showing!

First Half Half Marathon

First Half Half Marathon

Because of the road conditions, we couldn’t run the original race route. Instead, we decided to do the 10km loop of False Creek, stop by the Roundhouse, and then finish the rest of the distance. Kristin, Allie & I set out together.

First Half Half Marathon First Half Half Marathon

Seawall conditions were messy – ice, snow and slush – but my YakTrax kept me steady!

We made a pitstop on the way – no race results to worry about – before finishing 10km at the Roundhouse. At this point, Kristin had to leave us –

First Half Half Marathon

but we picked up two new members: Laurel (pictured) and her friend, Tim!

First Half Half Marathon

Once again, out into the snow towards Stanley Park – up until we couldn’t go any further.

First Half Half Marathon First Half Half Marathon First Half Half Marathon

By the time we reached the Roundhouse again, Allie had completed the entire half marathon.

First Half Half Marathon

Unfortunately, due to GPS issues at the start, I wasn’t there yet. But I was determined to make the race ‘official’, and ran home (and around the block) to hit my 21.1km!

First Half Half Marathon

Based on what I heard, and the people I saw out and about, I would estimate that around 100 people decided to run that morning. Not sure how many actually did the half marathon distance, but I couldn’t help but be proud by the grit and perseverance of our Vancouver runners!

And you know what else? The First Half Half Marathon still did all of these things:

  • In collaboration with Forerunners, allowed package pickup to continue until the end of February (leftover shirts will be donated to charity)
  • Donated $50,000 to Variety – the Children’s Charity
  • Donated 2000 bottles of Kiju Organic Juice and 2000 cups of Olympic Dairy yoghurt to the Vancouver Food Bank
  • Will offer discounted registrations for the 2018 First Half Half Marathon for all runners who registered for this year!

I’m also SO impressed with the positive response from the entire running community, with support for the Race Director and this very tough decision. Thank you!

First Half Half Marathon

Have you ever had a race cancelled due to weather conditions?


One comment

  1. As a Race Director, that is among my greatest fears. Although tough to disappoint so many runners, it is also foolish to send everybody out and “hope for the best”. Erring on the side of runner safety is always the right decision and thanks for expressing how grateful you were for the decision, and bravo for your determination to complete the run!

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