Under Armour Eastside 10K 2018


eastside 10k

The Eastside 10K is in its sixth year, and with maturity comes change. Last year, Under Armour took over as title sponsor, changing the course, and elevating the race to an arguably more prestigious status. This year, there were a few unexpected surprises and I’ve got a few opinions about that…

Eastside 10k Expo

Thanks to my influence and encouragement, a few coworkers and friends signed up for the Eastside 10k late in the game. When package pickup rolled around, I rallied the troops and we headed off the SFU downtown on Friday afternoon.

First familiar face upon arrival: Debra! Of course! She had volunteered since the package pickup opened, and informed me that the place had been a zoo, with crazy lineups and long waits. Not sure of the cause, but I wonder if it was simply a lack of volunteers or some other logistic issue. Regardless, we had timed things perfectly and had our bibs within minutes. And our t-shirts…but that’s another story.

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Best part of the expo? This!

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Great photo opportunities and lots of room for creativity. Clearly, I’ve never scaled a wall before and had no idea what I was doing. I would have tried another pose, but there was a lineup and I had to get back to the office.

Eastside 10k – Race Day

In 2017, the weather gods blessed the Eastside 10k with perfect weather. I knew we’d have at least a bit of rain this year, but despite some dire predictions, running conditions were pretty ideal. It was cool with a slight drizzle when I dropped off my car2go and headed to the shelter of the Woodwards Atrium.

As usual, it’s the familiar faces that make race day for me. Photos were the first order of business, especially since I’m not currently running with my usual crews and I miss them all!

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I quickly checked my bag (stuffed with dry clothes because I assumed I would be drenched by the end), and then joined Lucy for a quick warmup run and drills. Then the crowds started to gather, the rain started to fall harder and I headed to the start line.

With a vague pace goal in mind – I had reviewed my Eastside 10k results from previous years and determined that ‘around 50 minutes’ was reasonable – I positioned myself in between the 45-minute and 50-minute pacers.

The rain continued to fall. The 8:30am start time came and went. We could hear an announcer’s voice, but amongst the crowds and with the reverberations off the surrounding building, not a word was audible. So we waited, chilly and damp. According to Strava, my run began at 8:39am. What was the hold up? No idea.

On the Course

I won’t go into the details – you can revisit the course as detailed in last year’s blog post – but the Eastside 10k is basically as out-and-back through the Downtown Eastside, old Japantown and points further east to Nanaimo Street. There is much ado about the ‘hill challenge’, a steep loop up and around Pandora Park. But in emphasizing this hill, it’s easy to forget that the course is not otherwise completely flat. It has a couple of inclines, plus a fairly challenging overpass at 4k (and again at 8k on the way back). Don’t be fooled! The Eastside 10k is some solid work!

As before, one of my favourite things about the course is seeing the lead runners on their way back…when I was still on my way out. So inspiring!

I want to give a special shout-out to my girl Carla, who was one of the 50-minute pacers. I caught up with them on the way out, fell back again, and then passed them on the way back. The encouragement / motivational yells from Carla made a big difference to my final time.

About 2km from the end, the rain picked up in earnest. No worries – nearly done! In the final stretch through Gastown, I caught up with another running friend, and we paced each other to the finish line.

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And it turned out to be my fastest Eastside 10k yet! Celebrated with cheers, high fives and post-race refreshments.

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The Medal

The dog-tag style medals that have stood out to me as a symbol of the Eastside 10k are among the favourites of my medal collection. I had a heads-up that things were changing this year with this tweet in response to my shared 2017 blog post:

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So the bling was no surprise – and I kind of like it! The lanyard colours are particularly unique. And the design reflects that of the event t-shirt.

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Oh, yes, the t-shirt. Let’s talk about that.

The T-Shirt

I have, indeed, expressed strong opinions about race shirts in the past. I took particular issue with the sizing of the Scotiabank Half Marathon shirt, and again with this year’s colour. But never has a race shirt ever garnered as much unsolicited feedback as the 2018 Eastside 10k shirt. Here it is:

eastside 10k

First off, there’s the colour. To be fair, baby blue stands out from the crowd – I can’t recall ever owning an item of clothing in this shade, and I’ve certainly never seen a race shirt like this. And while I hate to define colour along gender lines (I have great sympathy for the abundance of pink that female athletes have to deal with), I still found this comment amusing from one of the male runners:

I got home and my wife said: “I think they gave you the ladies shirt by mistake”

And, quite frankly, baby blue simply isn’t everyone’s colour – particularly folks with pasty complexions like mine! Ha!

And then the logo – the odd, spiky font printed in the glitteryist gold I’ve seen on athletic wear. It drew some interesting comparisons. It evoked the questionable fashion of, among others, Juicy Couture (the one with ‘JUICY’ printed on the bum of sweatpants – you know?) and the inexplicable Baby Phat (this was a new one for me). One runner even commented that the font – possibly reminiscent of graffiti/gang associations – was outright disrespectful of the DTES community and the challenges they face.

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Favourite remark: “Hey, the early 2000s called and Jersey Shore wants their t-shirt back.”

I guess what I find most difficult to reconcile is this: the Eastside 10K shirts have always been among my favourites, especially the old-school cotton ones. They’ve got quirkiness and grit, solid representations of the DTES. In previous years, the organizers have also asked for contributions from runners, getting them to vote on designs. Not so this year.

After saying all of that, I have to admit that the design is growing on me. Not only that, but Under Armour uses good quality material and this shirt is super soft and comfy. I’ve used it a few times at the gym. It’s not entirely horrible…but tell me what YOU think!

Final Thoughts

The Eastside 10k is also the final race in the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series, which consists of nine race events. If you participate in at least four of these events, you score points. This year, I ran:

And because they gave out awards to the top five in each age group, I placed! One of my friends let me know my name had been called at the awards ceremony, and I received a gift card in the mail! Thank you!!

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Final Results

Chip time: 48:15
Average pace:  4:50 min/km
Overall place: 475/2445
Place in age category: 34/119

Click here for complete race results

Under Armour Eastside 10k 2018 – Quick Review

What I liked:
The location – the race runs through some truly historical districts of Vancouver, though many have fallen on hard times. I think it’s important to recognize that this is part of Vancouver, for better or for worse.
Social media – as part of the Canada Running Series, there’s lots of social media and communication
Race photos – it’s worth mentioning that the Under Armour Eastside 10k provides free race photos! This is becoming increasing rare among the larger, more established races, so I really appreciate it!

What could be improved:
You’ve read my comments – the shirt colour/design just didn’t resonate with me and many others this year. But, if nothing else, it’s memorable!
Start line timing / sound – two years in a row, we started late…and couldn’t hear what was going on! I feel like this could be a simple fix, or at least something to look into further.

Would I run it again?
Despite my criticisms, I still think that the Under Armour Eastside 10k is a top-notch race event. I haven’t missed a year since it started, and I don’t plan to so long as it continues.

eastside 10k


  1. Jonathan

    Granted, most of my personal wardrobe is courtesy of “Denver Hayes” but when it comes to sports jerseys and race shirts I can opine like a GQ fashion editor.

    I’m open to colours I wouldn’t ordinarily wear, but what makes a race shirt ugly is when you combine gaudy colours with gaudy prints/fonts. This cotton candy blue would look okay if the lettering was a simple, non glittery font on the breast or shoulder. Instead it is a loud, faux “gangsta” which I am self conscious wearing.

    I considered rejecting/tossing it into a Salvation Army bin but I have worn it and really like the lightness of the material. Perhaps it can be a “loveable loser” shirt like the BMO “Canary” or Scotia “Chernobyl Lime”.

    Last year’s shirt and the 2013(?) black with yellow dove were beautiful.

    Great writeup and great event nonetheless! See you at Turkey Trot!

  2. Kevin M

    Congrats on placing in the Road Race Series! I think I agree with you on the shirts, they’re comfy but leave a little to be desired with the design.
    I was particularly impressed with their photographers though, it seemed like there was really nice photos of everyone. I also think it’s really nice when they make the Hi Res photos available for free, and maybe I just got lucky but there definitely seemed like a lot more photos than most races.

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