REVEL Chilliwack – My 40th Half Marathon

Posted: August 25, 2019 in My Story, Race Reports
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Revel Chilliwack

The REVEL Race Series is known across the US for creating fast downhill courses, usually held in more remote, mountainous locations. So when their inaugural race in Canada – REVEL Chilliwack – was announced back in the spring, I decided to check it out. I read a few reviews, which spoke to their great organization and quality medals – and decided to register. My legs are sore but my heart is happy after doing this race!

My most recent half marathon was the Scotiabank Half back in June 2018. Over the past year, I’ve focused on shorter distances and trail racing. But I was ready for the challenge of REVEL Chilliwack, which would be my 40th half marathon! And of all the races that I could have honoured with this milestone, I’m glad it was a REVEL race!

These events are built for speed and scenery – as stated on their website:

REVEL races can best be described by two words: Fast & Beautiful.

And their marathons are known for having a high percentage of Boston qualifying times. Since I was registered for the half, a BQ was not my goal…but I couldn’t help thinking that a PB might be in the books.

Pre-Race

REVEL Chilliwack had consistent and plentiful email communication leading up to the race, so I had a very clear picture of what to expect for race day. They included everything from schedules to parking maps, locations and times. One option that I should have – perhaps – taken advantage of was the option day-of package pickup for an additional fee.

Having driven to Chilliwack many, many times, I figured it would take maybe 2 hours to get there on a Friday afternoon. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Despite leaving at shortly after 3pm, the volume on both the highway from North Vancouver to Abbotsford was appalling. As the expo closure time crept closer and we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I started going through scenarios in my head.

“Who can I call?”

“Am I going to have to forfeit the cost of this race, along with the transportation and accommodation we’ve paid for?”

By some miracle, we arrived at the Expo at 6:05pm. I rushed inside (after picturing myself banging on a locked door), and the place was in full tear-down mode. The folks at bib pickup were already putting all the leftover bibs into boxes…but the volunteer deftly pulled mine from the stack in his hands.

At the t-shirt pickup, I was told that everything had already been packed. However, with a flourish, the volunteer opened a box and pulled my size from the very top of the pile! Amazing! I also got a pair of Goodr sunglasses, which I’ve grown quite fond of.

I was disappointed I didn’t get to ‘experience’ the Expo at all, but I was thankful I didn’t have to miss the race entirely!

With that crisis averted, we checked in at our slightly dated bed & breakfast, made dinner and slept early.

But not well.

The two other guests at the B&B were running the marathon, and one of them checked in after midnight. Consequently, there were doors slamming, floors creaking and toilets flushing throughout the night. When my alarm finally went off at 3:30am, I questioned how I would be able to run a race of any length.

It was a quick drive to Prospera Centre, where I parked my car and grabbed one of the final seat on the school bus that would shuttle us to the start line. I chatted a bit with the woman sitting next to me – learning that this was her third REVEL race…and something like her 107th half marathon! Inspiring for sure!

Half an hour later, we unloaded on a dark, forested road. One of the organizers briefed us – porta-potties up the gravel path, and drop your gear bags with volunteer at least 15 minutes before the start.

I was delighted, then, to run into Lei-Lani and Mark, who were pacing 2:00 and 1:50 respectively. Love to see familiar faces before a race! We did a bit of a warm-up and made our way to the starting corral.

At this point, I was surrounded by a group of Forerunners friends, and reunion photos ensued!

revel chilliwack

On the Course

Despite there being nearly 400 half marathon runners, the road in front of me was pretty clear. We headed off down Chilliwack Mountain Road as dawn broke. It was beautiful.

Early in the race, we ran alongside the Chilliwack River – fresh and clear, rushing rapids. Above the treetops, you could see the mist-shrounded mountains. Other than the breathing and footsteps of other runners, it was nearly silent.

Over the 21.1 kilometres, forested roads gave way to campgrounds, then farms, scattered residential areas, and finally the outskirts of suburban Chilliwack. Although there weren’t many folks out cheering (supporters were discouraged from coming on course, since it was just a two-lane road), all of the volunteers at aid stations and managing traffic were incredibly enthusiastic and cheerful, despite the early hour.

Although a net downhill (187m drop), this course was not easy. It still had plenty in the way of short uphills and challenging flats. It was surprisingly undulating, in fact.

At the halfway point, I felt pretty strong. I was on pace for a solid result. At 15km, things were still going well. Carolyn caught up with and passed me with some words of encouragement, just as my legs were starting to experience the sensation of heaviness and fatigue. But I only had 5km to go, so I knew I had to focus.

revel chilliwack
Carolyn the photobomber!

Each of the final few kilometres seemed to last a lifetime. The only runners I could see were pretty far in the distance, so I was on my own. I literally started encouraging myself out loud with the refrain of “You’ve got this!”

revel chilliwack

At the final turn into the finishing corral, I could see the time on the clock and I knew I had achieved my PB – beating a time I’d been chasing since BMO Vancouver Half in 2015. And that was cause for celebration!

Post-Race

The Forerunners crowd gathered after everyone had crossed the finish line, all within about 10 minutes of each other. There was pizza (at first they didn’t think there was any veggie pizza, but they found me some), there was beer (which I couldn’t stomach at 8am) and there were photos!

revel chilliwack

And I got to revel in my PB! For my 40th half marathon. And just a few days after the race, we got a whole bunch of free race photos (as you can see throughout this post!) All in all, an amazing day and a fantastic race!

revel chilliwack

Final Results

Chip Time: 1:43:36
Place Overall: 45/344
Gender Place: 30/114
Place in Age Category (45-49): 4/19

For full race results, click here

revel chilliwack

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