The 47th Annual James Cunningham Seawall Race!


Seawall RaceDisclaimer: I received a free entry to the James Cunningham Seawall Race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

There are two things that I particularly enjoy about autumn races, in general:  the weather is cool, and they start later! But when you live in a city like Vancouver, you can be nearly guaranteed the other variable of the season:  rain. And even though we new it was coming – despite the best efforts of Lions Gate Road Runners maven, Margaret Buttner – the morning of the 47th Annual James Cunningham Seawall Race dawned with a downpour. And the ducks were happy!


For 43 years, the James Cunningham Seawall Race was a 9.6 kilometre race around the Stanley Park seawall, commemorating the stonemason who spearheaded its construction (read a bit more background in my previous post, Everything Old is New Again). The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series took things over in 2014, added a half marathon, and created one of their iconic Remix weekends. The Seawall Race was rerouted to become a standard 10k for the intervening 3 years. In a surprise twist, in January 2017, Rock ‘n’ Roll announced that they were pulling out:

While we are sad to be leaving beautiful Vancouver, for now, we are unable to deliver an event experience our participants, team, and stakeholders expect from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

Race management returned to the hands of local running club Lions Gate Road Runners. The original plan to continue with a 10k/half marathon weekend met with some logistical snafus, ultimately resulting in the postponement of half marathon. Nevertheless, the James Cunningham Seawall Race reverted to its original 9.6k to reflect the tradition and spirit of the race.

Packet Pickup

In addition to offering Saturday ‘morning of’ pickup and registration, Denman Running Room hosted package pickup on both Thursday and Friday. After work on Friday, I cycled down to the store, and my timing was perfect because I ran into both Margaret and Elinor, who were pumped about the event (if wary of the weather reports). Apparently I had missed the rush, and it took just a couple of minutes to get my bib and t-shirt.

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Pasta for dinner and an evening in was my preparation for the race.

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Seawall Race Day

Not only was the rain falling, but there was a definite chill in the air. I kept adding extra gear to my backpack, trying my best to contingency plan. That we were going to get wet was a certainty, and I had to make peace with that. About an hour before the 10am race start, I hopped on a bicycle and headed to Stanley Park. By the time I got to Second Beach, I was drenched.

When I caught a glimpse of orange, I knew it was fellow BibRave Pro, Jeannine Avelino. (Check out her fabulous review of the race here.) Together with hundreds of others, we huddled under the awning of the concession stand, waiting until the last minute to shed our outer layers and check our bags. We made the best of it.

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Photo by Gord Kurenoff

The gang from West Van Run Crew was also there to represent – Karl, Guan and Lyanna!

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Gord Kurenoff, pirate impersonator and fashionista, waylaid us and gave us some words of encouragement. You should definitely check out his Vancouver Sun race report, which is considerably funnier than mine!

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The Course

The rain had slackened by the time we gathered at the start line. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of participants, as I had feared the weather might drive folks back under the covers. But runners are a hearty lot, and we were rewarded by mildly improved conditions as the gun went off.

I won’t regale you with details of the route, but definitely encourage you to skim my previous post:

Seawall Race – Course Preview

Whether you plan to run, walk, cycle or roller-blade, this wee ‘photo tour’ will highlight some of the landmarks on the Stanley Park Seawall.

The first kilometre was challenging only due to the crush of people as they tried to dodge the initial puddles. It’s a habit, I think, even when you know your feet will ultimately get soaked.

I kept a fairly steady pace, grimaced a bit when we turned the corner at Brockton Point and got a blast of wind, but ultimately rounded the Second Beach pool with a good burst of energy. Crossed the finish line with a smile. Thanks for the photo, Tereshka!

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Photo credit: Tereshka

The Medal

Controversy dogged the Seawall Race a bit this year. When the original First Nations-themed medal design was revealed online, questions were raised about the identity of the Indigenous artist who had created it. It eventually came to light that the design was ‘inspired’ by the First Nations aesthetic, but not created by a native artist. Ultimately, the decision was made to pull the medal, and engage a local First Nations artist to design a replacement. In my personal opinion, this was the right choice to make, and I’m grateful to the organizers for recognizing this and acting on it.

Due to the late-in-the-game switch up, medals were not handed out at the finish line. They will be made available for pickup, or mailed out upon request. However, we were introduced to the design created by Coast Salish artist, Margaret Briere. More information about Margaret and her art can be found on her website, Skwetu Art. Here, Elinor shows off a giant medal preview!

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This may be one of most highly anticipated medals of my running career!


Lots of damp hugs and high fives as we cheered folks over the finish line.

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After grabbing some coffee and a banana, Jeannine and I both retrieved our gear and changed into warm(er), dry clothing. Even though it had started to rain a bit more in earnest, we decided to stick around for awards, costume contest, and door prizes. (The clown won – sorry, Gord!)

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I’m always agog at the at the finishing results. Of course, the times of the winning runners – Kimberely Doerksen (34:38) and Mark Wilkie (31:20) – are duly impressive. But the one that got me was Yves Segalen in the 70-74 age category, who finished almost 5 minutes ahead of me with a time of 43:43. Remarkable!

There were heaps of door prizes, including free entries to the Gunner Shaw Memorial Cross Country Race (Dec 2), the St Patrick’s 5k (March 17, 2018) and the Shaughnessy 8k (May 2018). Check out these awesome races – you’ll find me there!

Huge thanks to the volunteers who made this race possible, and who braved the elements to support us runners. And a huge shout-out to Baxter Bayer, our fearless Race Director, as well as Margaret Buttner and Frank Stebner for their unwavering commitment to the Seawall Race!

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The hardest part of the whole day was my cycle home – it was raining, my hands were like ice, and I couldn’t wait for that warm shower. But it was all worth it for the awesome experience of the 47th Annual James Cunningham Seawall Race!

Final Results

Chip Time: 48:12 (10k equivalent: 50:35)
Average Pace: 5:00 min/km
Overall Place: 147/995
Place in age category: 15/46

Quick Recap – Seawall Race 2017

Social Media: The Seawall Race / Vancouver Running Festival engages actively on social media – particularly on Twitter and Facebook. Follow them! I would definitely encourage the organizers to get on board with Instagram for the 2018 season.

Packet Pickup: Two afternoons/evening at Denman Running Room, and also on race morning. The process was quick and painless.

T-Shirt/Swag: I like the simplicity of the t-shirt design, and the steel grey colour. It’s classic, and a shirt I’ll enjoy wearing. Due to the last-minute decision to pull the previous medal design and replace it with one created by an Indigenous artist, we did not receive our bling at the finish line. I’m very excited to see what it will ultimately look like!

Course: Counter-clockwise on the Seawall, starting and finishing at Second Beach. A very short out-and-back in Coal Harbour. Lots of beautiful (if cloudy and rainy) views all the way around Stanley Park. Fast and flat.

Post-Race: Water, coffee, bananas, an energy drink, and protein bars. All under tents as much as possible, making the best of rainy conditions. A costume contest! And oodles of giveaways and door prizes for those willing to brave the elements until the end.

Would I Run It Again? I have a renewed enthusiasm for the Seawall Race, and can’t wait to see what the organizers have in store for 2018!

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Photo credit: Lyanna Le


  1. Vivian

    wow Bradley; didn’t know you had such an impressive, detailed and thorough blog; your newest fan indeed; thanks for good review of the race I helped with! big hugs, keep well and happy, safe continued running! cheers

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