Posts Tagged ‘bmo vancouver half marathon’

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Facebook informed me that Sunday (May 1, 2016) was the five year RUNiversary of my very first half marathon – the 2011 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon! And it was a great day for celebration! Here’s what I looked like in 2011:

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Over the past few months, I have been running fairly consistently with the #RunVan Club on Thursday mornings at 6:30am. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person – so this is a big deal. And it speaks to the quality of people I get the opportunity to run with in the early hours! RunVan is sponsored by the Vancouver International Marathon Society and the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel – and led by a group of very dedicated runners.

I hadn’t originally committed to signing up for the BMO Half Marathon this year – but I was so inspired by the RunVan gang that I ended up taking the plunge! I’m so glad I did!

The Expo

HUGE kudos to the Expo organizers!

In recent years, since I’ve run the BMO, the Health & Fitness Expo has been held at the ‘old’ convention centre. There was always a long lineup to get in, the whole bib pickup process was very transactional, and the expo itself was chaos – crowds of people milling about in all different directions.

THIS year, the venue moved to the new Vancouver Convention Centre, and it was sheer bliss! Just steps from my office, my coworker Kyla (who was running the 8k) and I ventured to the Convention Centre, decked out in BMO blue!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Bib pickup was super-quick – if you didn’t know your number, there was a printed out list on boards at the entrance. While waiting in line, ran into Siobhan (@semcc53) – one of my RunVan buddies, fresh off her Boston Marathon!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Another RunVan friend, Greg (@gherringer), was manning the course maps.

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Entering the exhibition hall, we were awed at the grandness of it all!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

In my opinion, the great thing about the layout was that it zigzagged through the hall, allowing you to browse the many vendors, chatting with friends along the way. We spent some time with Debra, who was bringing her usual enthusiasm to the CRS West booth (Debra and I are both Digital Champions for the Scotiabank Half Marathon!).

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Also encourage you to visit the website of Arroyo – a new brand of trail running gear from local entrepreneur and speedy runner, Ben!


There were a few minor complaints from those who didn’t want to linger, and felt the expo flow made it impossible to do a beeline to the t-shirt pickup. However, I’m fairly certain there was an open passage at the edge of the hall.

We picked up our t-shirt, free transit passes – and realized we had spent over an hour enjoying the event! Well done, BMO Vancouver Marathon!

Race Day – Start Line

The Half Marathon started at 7am, and Debra had promised to take some photos at the start line before she ran the full Marathon, which started at 8:30am. I picked her up in my trusty Evo, and we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Vancouver proper.

The sun was shining, there was a slight chill in the air, but it was clear that the day would soon warm up. We ran into several friends – including Caroline, Fiona and Jeannine.

FullSizeRender_9 IMG_0703 IMG_0707 startline

And after a few quick visits to the loo (yay for men’s urinal station!), off to the corral!

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Race Day – The Course

I’ve run this route a few times, and I think I did a pretty good job of telling its story in my 2015 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race report. So I won’t go into a whole lot of detail. Here are a few of my recollections of this year’s race experience:

  • The lead wheelchair racer passing everyone on the downhill!
  • Awesome view of lead runners heading down Cambie Street, and up onto Cambie Bridge – with BC Place as the backdrop


  • Thinking ‘if this were the Sun Run I’d nearly be done’ – on Cambie Bridge at kilometre 4
  • Being left hanging when I tried high-fiving a spectator at the turnaround…she high-fived the guy ahead of me!
  • Wishing I was at brunch as we passed White Spot on Dunsmuir (we ended up going there for brunch afterward, at my suggestion!)

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  • Passing the lead wheelchair racer on an uphill (a couple of times…but I’m pretty sure he finished before me!)
  • I thought Pipeline Road was the challenging hill, but what are all these hills in Stanley Park? Were these here last year?
  • Catching a glimpse of Caroline around mile 12…trying to catch her, but never quite reaching her…
  • That final stretch to the finish line…cheering spectators on both sides…music and announcements and noise and just trying to reach that goal…

Race Day – Finish Line

I haven’t pushed myself that hard in a race for a while. I earned this medal!


Finally caught up with Caroline (umm…because she had stopped running) – and despite her pre-race protestations that I ‘always beat her’ in races, she bested me by about 30 seconds!

A voice behind me: “Are you Bradley?” Me: “Yep!” Him: “I read your blog all the time!” Me: “Aw, thanks! Let’s take a selfie!” New running buddy Jonathan and me (taken by his wife, who kindly didn’t steal my iPhone!):


And Michelle, our Fairmont Waterfront rep and RunVan fan!


Gathered up my green banana (ewww…), a couple bags of chips, a veggie sandwich (that I would eat much later in the day), and off to watch a few more friends finish their race. One more photo…

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

And then brunch time!

Not a PB, but a negative split, and Top 3 out of my 24 half marathons to date! Not too shabby!

Runner of a Certain Age Podcast

I’m also very honoured to say that – along with fellow runner, Kaella – I was featured in a guest spot on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast, hosted by one of my favourite BibRave Pros, Elizabeth! You can visit the page and download the podcast here. You should subscribe, too!!


Final Results

Chip Time: 1:46:03
Average Pace: 4:59 min/km
Place Overall: 975/8720
Age Category Place: 83/439

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon 2016 – Quick Review

Social Media: BMO/RunVan does a great job of social media – Twitter, Facebook…they pay attention to what’s going on, follow up and connect. Thumbs up!

Packet Pickup: As noted in my report, this year’s Expo was a huge improvement over previous years – new venue, smooth flow of people, quick and efficient. Plus, a bunch of people I knew!! Two thumbs up!

T-Shirt/Swag: I really like this year’s t-shirt. The colour is kind of a blue-green, something I don’t already have. The design is simple but impactful, and the fabric quality is light but not too thin. The medal is similar to that of previous years, clean design, and solid. Nice!

Course: A great spectrum of what Vancouver has to offer! City streets, ocean views, Stanley Park…what more could you ask for? The one complaint I heard is that because we weren’t running the Seawall during the Half, the views of the ocean were not as spectacular. This was not my experience!

Post-Race: The flow of people at the finish line was smooth. Medals, photos, water, juice and bananas – all delivered by awesome volunteers! Other food was piled high, allowing us to grab what we needed as we went by. Baggage pickup was pretty quick. There was a ‘street party’ nearby, but I made a beeline out to meet friends.

Organization: I really thought BMO organizers did a great job this year. The one glitch (that may have been a technical issue at Sportstats) is that results were slow in coming. There were volunteers with iPads near the finish line, but the informed us the website had crashed. Many folks had Facebook/Twitter notifications popping up about them being on the run…hours after they had finished the race. This problem should definitely be addressed! Otherwise, things went off without a hitch!

Would I run it again? Vancouver’s only marathon, along with a half marathon and an 8k…as well as a marathon relay! Chances are pretty good that you’ll see me on the course in the future!



I’m getting into the swing of things with linkups, and decided to join another one this week!

Thursday Triumph!


Hosted by three spectacular runners:

Smitha at Running with SD Mom – I’ve been ‘running’ with Smitha since we met during the February Grow Your Blog blog hop, and have enjoyed keeping in touch! Smitha inspired me to join her linkup!

Carlee at Carlee McDot – this girl has so much enthusiasm! Visit her blog and you’ll see what I mean!

Linzie at Sharp Endurance – very impressive endurance athlete. I think I can learn a lot from him!

[Tweet “We all have that potential in ourselves to become better. Believe in yourself!”]

On to my Thursday Triumph – talking about my #yearofthehalf, and what it means.

Sometimes people ask how I started running. This is not where I tell that story (you can read it here, though – stay a while!). Suffice it to say that I was very much a non-athlete all of my life. I avoided exercise like the plague. I eschewed all sports.

But in 2009, I started running. It was not immediately a match made in heaven. It was not instant success. But there was something about it that drew me in. Slowly but surely, running became part of my life.

I tackled my first half marathon in 2011 – the BMO Vancouver Half. As it turns out, it was also the 40th anniversary of the race. Fun and festive! Absolutely terrifying.

When all was said and done, I made it to the end. It took me a respectable 2 hours 15 minutes and 36 seconds. I came in 296/366 in my age category (remember this number). I may have vowed that I’d never run another half marathon.

2012 – I completed 2 half marathons. Improved my time and finished at 2:07:01

2013 – 3 half marathons. Broke the elusive 2 hour barrier with a time of 1:52:07

2014 – Yet again, 3 half marathons. Hit 1:48:12. Also decided to make this year my #42for42 and ran my first – and second – full marathons.

2015 – I decided early on to make this the #yearofthehalf and put full marathons to the side for the time being. We’re now a third of the way through the year. I’ve managed to squeeze in 3 half marathons so far. As of now, I have 5 more scheduled. Along with a few other, shorter distance races.

And now for my Thursday Triumph. Four years after running my first half, I ran the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon again. Here’s why I want to celebrate:

  • I broke the 1 hour 45 minute mental barrier, which I really wanted to do
  • With that PB race, I have officially improved my half marathon race time by 30 minutes
  • My age category place: 85/426 – not top 10, to be sure, but at least top 100!
  • I think I look a lot better at the finish line than I did in 2011!


I’m excited to see what the rest of this year brings. I’m not going to hold my breath for more PBs in upcoming races, but I’ll keep pushing myself to succeed. Also, 3 of the 5 upcoming halfs are TravelRuns (Ottawa; San Francisco; Laughlin, NV) – so I’ll have lots of stories to tell!

Thank you for celebrating this little triumph with me! And although I may be bragging a bit – I can’t deny that I’m proud of my progress – I share this story to encourage and inspire. We all have that potential in ourselves to become better. Believe in yourself!

Now it’s your turn! What’s your latest triumph? Is there a race time improvement you’re especially proud of? Please share!

And be sure to join next week’s Triumph Thursday!



When I ran my first half marathon in 2011, it was the BMO Vancouver Half. My finish time was 2:15:36.

Two years ago, due to family circumstances, I hadn’t planned to run. I flew back from Ontario two days before the race, so I figured I might as well give it a go. My finish time was 2 hours and 9 seconds.

This year was…something else.

BMO Vancouver Half 2015

For my ‘objective’ race report, scroll down. But if you want the full, subjective story…read on!

RUN VAN – Start Line

As a point-to-point race, the BMO Vancouver Half (and Full) Marathon, starts in Queen Elizabeth Park, a bit of a jaunt from downtown. I’m used to walking to the start line. But I got myself out of bed at 4:45am, had my coffee and oatmeal, and found a nearby car2go and got myself where I needed to be.

Unlike last year’s marathon, with torrential rain, the weather today was perfect. Best weather imaginable. Here’s a  comparison of ‘START LINE SELFIE’ 2014 vs. 2015:

The plastic bag lookStart line BMO Half 2015

A lot of my Forerunners peeps are running Eugene next week, and another bunch were running the full this morning, so I didn’t see a soul I knew. No matter. 15 minutes before gun time, I took a single EnergyGel (Double Latte), and got to my corral just as the national anthem was wrapping up.

Start Line

In keeping with the ‘Run Van’ theme of this race, each neighbourhood we toured through was appropriately signed. I think this is especially great for visitors to Vancouver, who might not otherwise know where they are. So, I’ll stick with that theme in my report!


Run Cambie

Exiting Queen Elizabeth Park, the first 3 kilometres are a solid downhill. I knew this, and made a concerted effort to pace myself accordingly, to avoid tiring myself out. I knew my goal pace, and I kept myself solidly on track.

People always hold up some great signs during the race, but I saw my favourite right at the start:

All toenails go to heaven


This made me smile as I recalled it throughout the race, and even heard a couple of girls mention it ages later.

At the foot of the hill, we headed up over Cambie Bridge. I thought to myself, “If this were the Sun Run, we’d almost be done.” Then I saw a couple of guys holding a big sign that said:



But with my terrible eyesight, I could swear it said:


Cuz that’s kind of how I felt.


Run Chinatown

Just past the Chinatown gate, there’s a surprise uphill. I’ve walked it many times, but it has a whole different degree of ‘slope’ on days like today.

Favourite sign #2:

Run like someone called you a #jogger


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Rounding a corner, the PowerGel station caught me off guard, and I didn’t move myself into the right lane in time to grab one. My reflexes aren’t very good.

And then there was Mr Swishy Shorts. I actually noticed him near Science World. He was wearing some nylon shorts that swished with every step. EVERY STEP. The sound reminded me of ski pants. It occurred to me that he’d better be wearing some long skivvies, or he’s going to have some pretty nasty chafing. Later on, I thought of calling him Captain Swishy Shorts, but only if he passed me. He never did.


A very familiar part of town, along the water by English Bay. And also the halfway mark. And I was on pace. Just where I wanted to be.


Run Stanley Park

Beautiful, right? Did I mention it was a perfect day? We were coming up on the 14km mark (2/3 mark!) – and that goal time was still in sight. And I still felt strong. Could this happen today?

Favourite sign #3:

Find a cute butt and follow

There’s another nasty hill heading up Pipeline Road through the park to the Seawall. Killer. One of my slowest kilometres. But I knew the end was…if not in sight, at least within reach. I didn’t let it stop me.


As we rounded Brockton Point, I caught up with this guy:

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That’s right – the 1:45 pace bunny. Did I mention that my goal time was 1:45? That’s right. So I decided to stick with him for awhile. You can’t see it really well, but he’s doing the Running Room ‘Run 10/Walk 1’ approach. So when he slowed down for his final walk…I kept going.


After the Sun Run, I was convinced that I hadn’t ‘given my all’ at the end, that I could have had a stronger finish. With 1 kilometre left, I kicked it up a notch. With 500 metres left…I pushed as hard as I could:


And that was all it took!


I’m proud to report that the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon was a PB! A 3-minute PB actually. I actually beat my goal time – and managed a negative split!

Final Results:

Chip time: 1:44:24
Average pace: 4:56 min/km
Place overall: 824/7850
Age category place: 85/426


The BMO Vancouver Marathon/Half/8K is arguably Vancouver’s premier race. It’s actually the only full marathon in town. And it’s in Vancouver – the best running city!

Packet Pickup/Expo
I can’t comment on this year’s expo, since someone else picked up my bib for me. If it was anything like previous years, there were long lineups. And a lot of people at the expo. Decent swag and some free samples.

I liked the t-shirt this year. Nice medium grey. Saucony brand. Definitely an improvement over the see-through yellow shirt from last year.

I think this year’s medal is the best yet. It’s bigger than previous years, and has a nifty cut-out Vancouver skyline.

Since I’ve outlined the course above, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, it starts out with a downhill, has a few short by painful uphills, but it’s a mostly flat course. And beautiful. As expected.

There was a bit of entertainment along the way – a few bands and singers.

Aid Stations
I had prepared ahead, with a couple of PowerGels and a glucose tablet (grape). I felt well hydrated. I only used one of the water stations (just a few sips around English Bay), but there were plenty en route (8 in total, according to the map).

The announcements at the finish line, giving us directions, were loud and clear. I heard someone say it sounded like the end of the world – very ‘big brother-ish’. I even heard someone it sounded like the end of the world. Straight after the medals and photos, volunteers were handing out juice, bottles of water, and sports drink.

The food included a banana, SunRype Okanagan Energy Bar, Kettle Chips, and a half sandwich from Bread Garden (including veggie option – but a little dry). If anything could have been improved, I would have wanted a bit more food variety – and maybe a bag to put it in (although that does go against my inclination to avoid waste…)

I was anxious to get to brunch, so I didn’t stick around for the Street Festival. I saw where they were selling souvenir items – but as a local and a returnee, I didn’t feel the need for retail therapy.

Race Management
Excellent! Well organized, solid social media presence, good communications and updates, everything running smooth and on time. Great volunteers, top notch across the board.

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon medal

Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Have you ever run Vancouver?