BMO Vancouver Marathon 2017


BMO Vancouver MarathonWhen I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, it never occurred to me that I might end up running the full. Having only done two full marathons before – Vancouver and Honolulu (both in 2014) – another marathon wasn’t on my radar. Until some of the wily women I run with convinced that we should tackle it together. So, after a few weeks of hemming and hawing, I upgraded to the BMO Vancouver Marathon. That’s how I got here.


Over the past few months, I’ve been training pretty consistently for the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Although I haven’t blogged about the training per se, it’s been happening. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (and if you don’t, you should!), I’ve posted some of those training runs. It was Kristin and Allie who got me started down this path, and we trained regularly with Byron and Ciara (along with/behind a whole bunch of other speed demons from Forerunners). I mention this group because we all had one goal in mind…to run a 4-hour marathon. Or, more accurately, to break the 4-hour barrier. Call it #Breaking4. My target time was 3:59:59.

BMO Vancouver Marathon

If you’d like a wee glimpse into what our training looked like, check out my post on the Forerunners Social Run – a 36km training run in preparation for BMO Vancouver Marathon.

BMO Vancouver Marathon

Prestige Club

Somewhere along the way there was a contest. And thanks to my social media-savvy friend and photographer buddy, Debra, we both won free VIP entries into the Prestige Club! I’ll refer to this further – but suffice to say that I was pretty stoked to get an upgrade worth $169!

BMO Vancouver Marathon Expo

Since I work close to the Convention Centre, I had hoped to pop by on Thursday or Friday…but my schedule wouldn’t allow it. I headed over at 10am on Saturday, when the Expo opened – and waited briefly in the outside lineup.

BMO Vancouver Marathon

Once inside, I made a beeline for the packet pickup where – thanks to my Prestige Club pass – I was able to skip the line and do ‘express’ pickup! My bib was a nifty burgundy, differentiating it from other runner bibs.

BMO Vancouver Marathon

I love the BMO Vancouver Marathon Expo because there are so many local brands and familiar faces! I took my time wandering through, sampling some wares, buying some nuun (always a good deal at the expos!), and chatting with a few folks I knew.

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon

After zigzagging past all the vendors, I picked up my t-shirt and went on my way.


The only glitch in my Sunday morning plan was the flat tire my car2go ended up with – that and the dearth of parking near the start line. Minor inconvenience, however, and quickly forgotten once I found the Hospitality Tent. Another perk of the Prestige Club: a heated tent, with bagels, fruit juice and coffee available – and exclusive port-a-potties. No lineups! No shivering in the cold! True, the sky was blue and sunny, but there was still a chill in air. I was warm and toasty.

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon

Finally, it was time to head to the start line. I ran into a few friends – Christina, who was running the Relay; and fellow BibRave Pro, Jeannine – running the BMO Vancouver Marathon for the first time!

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon

I was afraid I wouldn’t see my Forerunners gang, until I heard, “He’s wearing an orange hat” from behind – and we were reunited!

BMO Vancouver Marathon

Then the race began.

Cambie – Kerrisdale – Camosun Hill

The first 12 km – the first leg of the relay, as it turned out – went off pretty much without a hitch. Our group stuck pretty closely together, and kept each other almost perfectly on target pace.

Our only challenge was the Running Room 4-hour pace group. Because they take a 10-minute run/1-minute walk strategy, we kept jackrabbiting each other. This presented problems around water stations, because there was a big clump of them – and was especially challenging when they took walk breaks, and spread out across the course. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Running Room or this pacing strategy – but anyone who walks during any race really should move to the right. Just my 2 cents.

Anyway, we tackled Camosun Hill and still felt pretty good. Before long, we had reached Alma and headed towards UBC – the second leg of the race.

UBC – Point Grey – Kitsilano

When I ran the marathon in 2014, things started to fall apart a bit at this point. I had to stop and use the porta-potty, I was outpaced by the 4-hour pace bunny, and I started experiencing a pain in my groin that ended up keeping me from running for a few months. This time, however, the team was strong and stayed on target pace. It was cool and shady. Things were looking good.

We circled UBC, headed downhill – picked up a bit of speed, but not too much – and hit the mid-point of the marathon right on schedule, just around two hours.

Heading into Kitsilano along Point Grey Road, I was starting to tire. Byron got out ahead of me, and I had to pull myself along. But we finally hit Burrard Bridge, and I was feeling a lot better on the downhill. My honey was waiting to snap a photo at the 30k mark.

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon

English Bay – Stanley Park

Laurel – who ran the Boston Marathon just a few weeks ago – had offered to join me on course. She was waiting right there on Pacific, and paced me from English Bay all the way around Stanley Park. What a lifesaver! My energy and spirit were starting to wane, but she regaled me with stories of family and events, and supplied me with nourishment and some much-needed Ibuprofen. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of the rest of my team – we were on our own.

By the far side of Stanley Park, the WALL appeared. Not all at once, but the first few bricks. I made the mistake of looking up at one point – way across to the lighthouse, which seemed like a million miles away (in reality, it was about 2 kilometres). Laurel kept encouraging me, pulling me along with her enthusiasm and energy. The wall was higher. I was knackered. Honestly, at one point I thought if I could just close my eyes and take a nap, that would be the best thing in the world.

I said to Laurel: “I think I might throw up at the finish line,” – to which she replied, “Lots of people do, they’re prepared for that.”

I’m sure I cursed a lot.

At 40 kilometres, I had to walk. Just briefly, and then we started moving again. Slowly. I had given up on my 4-hour goal. Now, it was just about finishing.

The Last 2.2 Kilometres

There was a dancing shark. No, really – I wasn’t hallucinating, though it felt like I was. I wanted to smile and high-five her, but I couldn’t. So – Dancing Shark girl, if you’re out there – thank you!

Elvis was singing. A mirage? No, I’ve seen photos – he was really there.

Laurel peeled off at 41km – time to finish this thing on my own.

People were cheering. Several folks called my name. Did I know them? Maybe. When your name is on your bib, it’s hard to know for sure. But I wasn’t looking at anyone, couldn’t smile. Death was imminent.

When I saw the 500 metres to go sign, I couldn’t believe how far away the Finish Line was. Miles. So far I could barely see it. No way would I get there.

In the crowd – some familiar faces. I saw them! Siobhan, Susan, Nobu – oh, thank you for being there.

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon

Inexplicably, I crossed the Finish Line. I had thought I might burst into tears, but I didn’t. I was dazed, just kept walking…got my medal, a couple of juice boxes, fruit, CHIPS! It was over.

BMO Vancouver Marathon


Susan and Nobu met me – and then we went in search of the Prestige Club, where my gear had apparently been valeted from the start. I had to ask a couple of people, but we were finally directed to the Coast Plaza Hotel, 4th floor. I don’t think this information had been provided anywhere else, which was confusing – but I got there and didn’t care anymore. I was offered a towel, a place to change, and some free food (sandwiches, coffee, cookies).

BMO Vancouver Marathon

I was then escorted to the Hospitality Tent, with a great view of the finish line – by volunteer Marisha.

BMO Vancouver Marathon

By now all I wanted to do was sit down and eat…so off we went to JOEY for a whole bunch of food, and perhaps an alcoholic drink or two.

When I got home, opened up my Prestige Club bag of goodies – an awesome RunVan t-shirt, some Escents products, a RunVan BUFF, and a branded towel!

BMO Vancouver Marathon BMO Vancouver Marathon


Oh, were you wondering about that? Suffice it to say that no, I didn’t break four hours. Not to tell tales, but Ciara was the only one of our little band that pulled that off. But I’m VERY proud of all of us – with a special shout-out to Byron, who ran his very first marathon (after running his very first half marathon last year, I might add!).

Me? Well, I ran a 4:05 (or, to be more specific, 4:04:59). Still 5 minutes shy of my goal, and not  a PB! Somehow, though, I’m happier with that result than I expected. It’s going to take some time for me to process, to consider what I could have done differently, and to decide whether or not I will, in fact, tackle another marathon.

Time will tell.

Final Results

Chip Time: 4:04:59
Average Pace: 5:48 min/km (NOTE: a pace of 5:41 would have brought me in at 4 hours)
Overall Place:  1408/4696
Place in Age Category: 143/378

BMO Vancouver Marathon

BMO Vancouver Marathon – Quick Recap

Social Media: The gang at BMO Vancouver Marathon (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) does a fantastic job of keeping us informed and up to date. With social media and regular email updates, it’s a truly professional organization. Excellent communication. Two thumb up!

Package Pickup: With my Prestige Club pass, I was able to skip the line – and that was awesome! The Health, Sports and Lifestyle Expo is fun and engaging, with lots of great vendors. I have to give special recognition to Vicky at North Olympic Discovery Marathon – a race I’ll be doing in about a month!

T-Shirt/Swag: I’m not a huge fan of baby blue, but i really like this year’s t-shirt design. The swag I got from the Prestige Club – specifically the RunVan BUFF – really made me happy! And the 2017 medal is epic – heavy, 3D and stylish. Love it!

Course: Gorgeous. I run these road and paths, and the Seawall, all the time. I’m spoiled. But it’s a fabulous course, with lots of community support, and some stunning ocean views to boot. It’s hard to appreciate them on the far side of Stanley Park – though the hills are over, the endlessness of the final kilometres is painful. But still scenic! One of the best! You would never regret running in Vancouver.

Prestige Club: I was SO thrilled to win this VIP upgrade. Express pickup – brilliant! The heated tent, food, and private toilets at the start line were amazing – and had it been colder or rainy, it would have been a true lifesaver. The after party was mildly underwhelming…and, since I had a couple of spectator friends in tow, I didn’t want to leave them alone. If I’d travelled from another city, or was on my own – then I think it would have made more of an impact. Also, having my checked bag valeted personally from start line to finish line, not bad at all! Given the price tag, probably not a perk I’d purchase for myself, but it was still a great perk!

Post-Race: I think the Finish Line street festival gets better every year! Loads of food and drink, vendors, food trucks, massage…and lots of opportunity to connect with other runners, friends and family. One of the best!

Would I Run It Again? Without a doubt, I will run other BMO Vancouver Marathon events…but I don’t know if I’ll run the full marathon again. Honestly, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll ever run a full marathon. If I do, I might try for a slightly flatter course! Nevertheless, this one of the best organized race events I’ve been to, and I highly recommend it! Come and #RUNVAN!

BMO Vancouver Marathon


  1. Congrats Bradley! BMO was my first marathon last year and it is a tough course. Many people told me that AFTER I signed up! Haha. I remember thinking I would cry or be so happy at the finish line too but honestly was in such a daze as well. If I do it again, I need to seek out this VIP upgrade!

    Always enjoying reading your detailed race reviews! Hope recovery is going well.
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