Icebreaker 8K 2018 – Wind Tunnel



The Icebreaker 8k is always a welcome start to the running year – and the 2018 version was no exception. I gratefully received a free entry as a West Van Run ambassador, and joined a bunch of my teammates to run this friendly and well-organized community race in Steveston. Despite the out-and-back route along the dyke being fast and flat, Mother Nature had some unruly weather in store for us!

Living downtown in a concrete apartment building, with a window facing a sheltered courtyard, combined with the fact that I wear earplugs at night…the storm raged without me even noticing. I went through my morning routine and then stepped outside to grab a quick coffee at Starbucks. And I was nearly blown off my feet. At the construction site on the corner, plastic tarps were flapping with such vigour that I thought they might take flight. While waiting for my ride, I experienced a mounting sense of dread about how this race might turn out!

Shannon arrived in the family van with Jeannine in tow, and we picked up Debra along the way. As we headed south along Arbutus, we could see whole neighbourhoods in blackout mode thanks to downed power lines. Fortunately, everything was up and running at Steveston Community Centre when we arrived. We met up with Susan, who had arrived just before us.

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As part of my new training regimen, Coach Tony instructed me to warm up with a 15-minute pre-race run, including some strides at the end. Leaving the gang in the Community Centre gym, I headed west towards Garry Point Park. The whitecaps on the ocean made it clear that we were in for a challenging race, and as I headed back to rejoin everyone, the wind put a damper on my pace. What a warmup!

Thankfully, the rain held off, so we stayed dry as we hustled the few blocks to the start line on the dyke.

On the Run

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Thank for the start line photos, Karen!

The first kilometre or so was no worse than usual as I tried to establish my pace and find my pack. We veered slightly inland, sheltered among trees and buildings. In the second kilometre we skirted the marina, where sails were snapping violently. I thought was toque was going to blow right off, so I cinched my BUFF around my head to hold it in place. Kilometre three put the pressure on as we moved back to the trail alongside the river – no shelter, nothing to block the wind. The water was roiling. At one point, I was buffeted so much that I nearly stopped, careening into Teresa, who had come up behind me! (Sorry, Teresa!)

Kilometre four was, without question, the toughest running I think I’ve ever done. Reports suggest that we were running into 60km/hour winds. My face hurt. My nose was running (faster than my legs, haha) but I felt like things were being shoved back into my brain. I could feel spit leaking out of my flapping mouth and blowing away. A couple of times, I held up my hands to cover my face. I may as well have been walking.

And yet, when I spotted the camera near the turnaround, I had to smile. (That counts as a smile, right?)

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Then the wind was at my back! It propelled me forward, and for a short time it was like no effort at all!


Debra caught me on the way back!

Looking at my results, kilometre five was a full minute faster than kilometre four. The rest of the run was a bit of a blur, and the wind buffeting from behind and beside. But as the finish line approached, I felt strong. And  while the elements prevented me from achieving a PB, I was happy with my results.


Per my training instructions, I ran an additional 15 minutes – a bit with Shannon, a bit on my own, and the final bit with Susan!


Back at the Community Centre, things were hopping! There was pizza, soup (vegetarian), Subway sandwiches (no vegetarian), bananas, cookies, and Krispy Kreme donuts. For the previous two years, the post-race activities had been held in a multi-purpose room. I liked having it in the gym this year, with the high ceilings and a bit more room to spread out. We hung around for the awards (none for me!) before the trek back to Vancouver.

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Shannon did a nice little collage of Strava results from a bunch of the West Van Run crew. This gives you a clear picture of how much everyone suffered in the wind!


Final Results

Chip Time: 39:53
Average Pace: 4:59 min/km
Overall Place: 120/307
Place in Age Category: 8/15

For full race results, click here.

Quick Recap – Steveston Icebreaker 8k

Social Media: I strongly recommend checking out the Icebreaker Facebook page to see the 2018 photos of all the windblown faces! There is no race Twitter handle, but follow @KajaksTFC for info!

Packet Pickup: Pickup was held on both Friday (in Kitsilano) and Saturday (in Richmond). My friend Michelle kindly picked up my bib on Friday night, so I didn’t have to worry about it!

T-Shirt/Swag: As noted before, Icebreaker is a community race, lots of local speedsters – and that is the attraction! No bling, but lots of fun!

Course: Simple – out and back along the dyke beside the Fraser River – with a bit of winding in and out in the neighbourhood. Generally speaking, a delightful route! Not this year!! Whatever the weather, you get the full experience during this race!

Post-Race: One of the best post-race spreads out there – one reason I keep coming back! Pizza and soup warmed us up, and the welcome addition of Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert! There are also lots of door prizes, but I didn’t win anything this time around.

Would I Run It Again? I was certain that 2018 would be a faster year, but the elements had other things in mind. Gotta be back in 2019 to get that course record!!

What are the toughest weather conditions you’ve experienced at a race?



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