SHLF Run 10k



The West Van Run Crew was out in force this past weekend, joining the team challenge at the 2017 Strachan Hartley Memorial Foundation Run – otherwise known as the SHLF Run! Last year, Paula and I both ran the 5k, so I decided to up the ante and tackle this year’s 10k! However, there were a few surprises in store…

Briefly, the SHLF Run is hosted by the Strachan Hartley Memorial Foundation. Its namesake, Strachan Hartley, passed away at the age of 30 – but his achievements live on through the organization’s contributions to youth in the community. You can read more about Strachan Hartley here. The SHLF Run is now in its 11th year, and is 100% volunteer run…and all proceeds go to Streetfront Alternative.


Unlike 2016, which was rainy and a bit miserable, this year’s SHLF Run experienced fabulously dry and mild conditions. I picked up fellow West Van Run Crew member, Sam, and headed to Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver. We were soon joined by WVR Race Director, Kirill (who came along for encouragement), and then by both Karin and Jeannine. Sam and Karin were slated to run the 5k, while Jeannine and I tackled the 10k.


Unfortunately, I had woken up to full-fledged cold symptoms, so I was not in top form.

Because I had registered earlier, I received a SHLF Run t-shirt. At pickup, I expressed real enthusiasm for the design, and was told that the guy who had designed it was at the race. I asked to meet him so we could get a picture. Turned out to be this talented young man, Will – a 10-year-old runner with some obvious artistic abilities! He was very proud to show off his work!


We gathered at the start line for the 9:15am start of the SHLF Run 10k. The 5k started 15 minutes later. Looking around, Jeannine and I realized that it wasn’t a big field, definitely less than 100 people.


With little fanfare, we were off!

The Course – Challenging in More Ways than One

A Facebook post had alerted us to the fact that, due to construction, the 10k course had been slightly rerouted. However, by race morning, this fact has slipped my mind and I dutifully studied the original course map on the website. It was not accurate.

I remember the first kilometre of the course from last year, but then things got a bit hairy. The course diverted us through the trails of a nearby park, and then around the sports field at Cleveland School. I remember thinking: “Wow, they’ve got the course well marked, lots of pylons and signs”. Up ahead, I saw a small trail with pylons and yellow tape, and figured that was the way to go. But the guy in front of me started heading down the street. Then, three racers came darting out of said trail and shouted: “Not that way!”

They were wrong.

While the route should have taken us back through the park, about a dozen of us (because we had picked up a few stragglers) ended up doing a wide loop. I can’t be absolutely sure, it added about half a kilometre to my race, and a few extra minutes to my time. This was disappointing.

My route
The actual route

We reconnected with the course, which was now full of 5k runners, including their strollers and dogs. I was nearly bowled over by one dog on a long leash, whose owner didn’t seem too fussed about keeping him under control. On the up side, this just motivated me to go faster to get ahead of the crowds!

The next problem came where the 10k split from the 5k. Up ahead, I saw one guy dash across the road and head east. The young volunteer at the corner wasn’t really directing traffic, but I asked him: “10k that way?” and he waved vaguely in that direction. So I went ahead.

Jeannine, not far behind me, wasn’t so lucky. With no big ‘5k this way, 10k that way’ sign, and no active directions from the course marshal, she missed the turnoff entirely. Her 10k ended up as a 7k.

How am I finished already?

Of course, I didn’t know this yet. I just kept running. Kilometre 6 was entirely downhill…and you know what that means! As promised, the real meat of the 10k was in the uphill, which began at the 7k mark. The next 2 kilometres were an unrelenting incline through Mosquito Creek Park and then, due to construction, up the aptly named Skyline Drive. After that punishing hill, though, it was downhill and finally flat to the finish.

I love that the race ends on the Handsworth track, giving runners a real chance to sprint to the finish! As I reached the track, Jeannine came running over: “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for ages…!”


And it was done!


We shared our course woes, followed by celebrations of everyone’s finish! Took advantage of the bagels, fruit and coffee available for us. And then the prizes – both Sam and Karin took first in their respective age groups!

The sun came out. We enjoyed the warmth. And then we all headed home.

Another successful race on the North Shore!*

Final Results

Chip Time: 56:23
Average Pace: 5:38 min/km
Place Overall: 39/86
Division Place: 9/14

*Speaking of which…don’t forget to register for the 2018 West Van Run!

5K – Saturday, March 3
10K – Sunday, March 4
Register at
Save 15% with discount code: ‘BRADLEY‘!

Quick Review – SHLF Run 10K

Social Media: The Strachan Hartley Foundation has reasonably active Twitter and Facebook accounts, but their Instagram hasn’t been updated since last year. I also mentioned it in my review of the 2016 5k, but their website needs some improvements – better SEO (Google still lists the 2015 race), and more recent content. I challenge a website designer to take on this challenge and help the Foundation out!

Package Pickup: The entire West Van Run Crew did morning-of pickup, which was quick and uneventful.

T-Shirt/Swag: Because I registered early, I got the 2017 SHLF Run shirt – and it’s fantastic! Designed by a local 10-year-old, it’s probably one of my favourite race shirts to date!

Course: I thought the 5k was challenging, but the 10k is definitely not for the faint of heart. Are you a hill lover? Then this is the race for you! Especially due to the route changes, there should have been more effective course marshals at strategic points on course. Particularly at the 5k/10k split, better signage and a much more enthusiastic course marshal (maybe the football quarterback??) should have been deployed there. *I should add, however, that the race website has a disclaimer…that runners are responsible for knowing the course!*

Post-Race: Last year, the rain forced us back inside. We had great weather this year, so refreshments and festivities were all at the finish line. Added such a great vibe to the event!

Organization: Overall, the event is quite well organized with a great community vibe. Course marking and marshaling could use improvement, but I understand the limitations of a 100% volunteer race. Still – lots of fun!

Would I run it again? I’m going to crush the 10k in 2018! Hill training…here we come!

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