Posts Tagged ‘buff’

Original BUFF®

Disclaimer: I received an Original BUFF® to review 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!

Since receiving my first BUFF® product, I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve done a couple of reviews before:

When I got the opportunity to test the Original BUFF® – and to select my own design – I was thrilled! Honestly, you can’t have too many BUFF® products! I chose the pattern called MOTION because I felt the colour palette would go well with my own!

Original BUFF®

We’ve learned that BUFF® products are extremely versatile, but of course I have my favourite styles and uses, and pretty much stick with them. But since the packaging promotes “more than 12+ ways to wear”, I thought I’d give it a go and try them out!

Original BUFF®

Here are some of the ways to wear the Original BUFF® – and my perspective on them!



Disclaimer: I received a UV Half BUFF® to review 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!

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I’m a huge fan of BUFF® products. You can revisit my previous reviews here:

But today I’m talking about the UV Half BUFF® – half the length of the Original BUFF® but no less awesome!


Merino Wool Buff

Disclaimer: I received a Merino Wool BUFF® to review 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!

It’s no secret that Buff has become one of my favourite products and most indispensable pieces of running gear. My Buff tags along with me to most of my races, and it’s an essential part of my running routine. You can read my previous review of the UV Buff here. When the opportunity arose to test and review the Merino Wool BUFF®, I leapt at the chance!

Initially, we weren’t certain whether or not Buff could/would deliver to Canada – but I was hopeful since they had done so previously. The outcome was still pending when I got a note from our office reception that a package had arrived. Ta-daaaa! My BUFF® headwear was safe and sound on Canadian soil!

Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff

The first thing I want to comment on is the colour. We had quite a good selection to choose from, but I’ve been leaning towards the orange palette since embracing BibRave, so I chose the one I felt best suited: Rooibos Tea Dye. According to the packaging, it’s hand-dyed and – as such – totally unique. No other BUFF® product has the same pattern, which makes me feel pretty special.

Although merino wool is certainly not as rough as other sorts of wool, I was a bit concerned that it might be itchy or irritating. There was nothing to worry about. This is high quality material and gentle on the skin. Hooray for merino wool!

One thing I noticed right away is that the Merino Wool BUFF® is longer than my other standard ‘full BUFF®’ products by about 3 1/2 inches.

Merino Wool Buff

Quick visit to the website reveals:

The classic BUFF® headwear shape, but with a few extra inches of length for cozy protection–in the fabric outdoor enthusiasts love most.

With that in mind, time to try it on!

We’ve had some pretty mild weather in Vancouver this year, so there wasn’t a lot of call to wear my BUFF®. If I’d had it in time for my Snowshoe Race, it would have been the perfect gear to wear!

When the morning of the MEC North Vancouver Trail Race dawned overcast and chilly, and I knew we’d be running in the shady forest, my Merino Wool BUFF® was the natural thing to wear. Pre-race, it kept me warm and cozy as we waited at the start. My only ‘complaint’ (and it’s barely even that) is that the longer BUFF® headgear with additional material makes it a bit bulky when doubled up as a toque. At the same time, though, it’s particularly comfortable.

IMG_0103 FullSizeRender_1

For the first half of the race, I was glad to have my BUFF® to keep my ears and head toasty (though it did nothing to help me keep my eyes open for the photo).

Merino Wool Buff

Soon thereafter, when the trails became hillier and I had to exert myself considerably more…the BUFF® (as well as my jacket) were too warm. I tied the jacket around my waist, and converted the BUFF® from a toque to a neck warmer. This is what I love about BUFF® products – the versatility!

Merino Wool Buff

A week later at the West Van Run, the weather was sunny and warm, so I only needed a cap during the race. However, when things cooled down afterwards, I was glad to have it stashed with my gear to keep out the chill as I cheered in other runners. Here’s me and fellow BibRavePro Brie ( hanging out post-race:

Merino Wool Buff

The latest adventure for my Merino Wool BUFF® took us to Pacific Spirit Regional Park, an amazing wilderness with scenic trails. Emily and I did nearly 10k and had an absolute blast. Once again, BUFF® started out on my head, and ended up around my neck once things warmed up. Had to show off my BibRave t-shirt, too!

Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff

In short, I love BUFF® products. We all know that. About the Merino Wool BUFF® specifically – I think this is a great product, and I wish I’d had more cold weather opportunities to try it out! I’m not a skier and not hugely into winter sports, but I think this BUFF® product would be especially awesome for someone who is. Great for runners/cyclists who live in colder climates – or who spend more time in the back-country trails.

But don’t just take my word for it. You should get a BUFF® product for yourself – they have so many styles and options! Visit the US site at, or the Canadian site at

Have you tried the Merino Wool BUFF® or other BUFF® products? What do you think?

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Not in recent memory have I not wanted to run a race. Sure, there have been races where I was nervous or anxious beforehand, but I always looked forward to the run. In this case, after a couple of days of ‘man-cold’ – followed by a nearly sleepless night – I was feeling just sorry enough for myself to consider skipping the event entirely. The race in question? The Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k.

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Have you ever seen the TV show Once Upon a Time? If so, you’ll recognize Steveston as Storybrooke, where most of the action occurs. It’s a small fishing village and historic salmon canning centre about 30 minutes south of Vancouver, and now a popular tourist destination.

And as you may have gleaned from the fact that I’m writing this race report, I heaved myself out of bed in time to catch the train to Richmond, where Lucy kindly met me at the station en route to Steveston.

It was Lucy – my Forerunners buddy – who encouraged me to sign up for the Ice-Breaker. In turn, I persuaded Susan (who did her first half marathon back in October!) to participate. And since I had picked up bibs for both of them on Friday night at the Running Room, I clearly had no excuse for not showing up. We arrived at the Steveston Community Centre, meeting up with Susan and a bunch of Forerunners folks, just as the rain started to fall.

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Susan & me

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Standing shivering and damp at the Start/Finish Line, I knew that my first race of 2016 was going to be a tough one.

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Heading Out

The Ice-Breaker is an out-and-back course along the Steveston riverfront and dyke. Arguably, it’s a fast and flat course. But to say that today’s weather was punishing could be considered an understatement. For the first kilometre, we zigzagged through some residential areas, and the rain started in earnest. Then we passed the historic Britannia Shipyards (well worth a visit in the summer months!) and headed onto the dyke.

Now we were fully exposed to the elements. I had been squinting into the rain, but the wind picked up and it felt as though tiny needles were being hurled at my face. Not exactly cold, but fighting the gusts off the water made moving forward a chore. The path turned to gravel, mud and puddles. My feet were soaked and aching. And although I was wearing a Buff, the buffeting wind in my right ear was a constant roar.

Because I could barely open my eyes, I couldn’t see much scenery beyond what was right in front of me. On the grey, rolling river I saw a couple of chip barges, with more grey sky in the background.

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

Then we turned around.

Heading Back

Maybe the rain let up a bit. Maybe it was because the return route was on the road, rather than the path. Maybe it was the wind at our backs. But heading back was so much easier. No more stinging needles on my skin. A bit more downhill.

And a negative split – the second four kilometres nearly 2 minutes faster than the first four!

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

I managed to pass a few people in the last few hundred metres, and crossed the Finish Line with a result that was better than I had expected, given my nasty, self-pitying man-cold and the miserable weather.

And I was thrilled to cheer Susan across the finish line!

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k


We all gathered back at the Community Centre, where we were supplied with hot soup, pizza, bagels, fruit and coffee. Age group awards were doled – including to a few speedsters from Forerunners. That was followed by a bevvy of door prizes, and once again some of our posse reaped the benefits. We all headed out for lunch in Richmond.

And then I went home to bed.

Unsurprisingly, my results were mediocre in comparison with what I’ve accomplished in the past. But I have no regrets about doing this race and plan to better my time next year!

Steveston Ice-Breaker 8k

See you in 2017!

**NOTE: Special thanks to Debra Kato (@debrakato) and Susan Kristiansen for kindly sharing their photos!**

Final Results

Chip Time: 40:12
Average Pace: 5:01 min/km
Place Overall: 117/273
Age Category Place: 10/16



Packet Pickup
A very low-key affair at the Running Room – a table and a volunteer with bibs and a list of names. Quick and painless.

Nothing – this is a minimalist event. Cheap and cheerful.

As described, a flat out-and-back course. On a sunny day, this would be an extremely scenic route along the South Arm of the Fraser River, past some local historic sites. On a rainy and windy day like today, it was just rainy and windy. The volunteers along the route were troopers, though – cheering and encouraging with their umbrellas and rain gear. There was one water stop at the turnaround point – but I think most of us had enough water falling on us that we didn’t need any more!

Muscle MLK at the Finish Line, followed by a good array of food back at the Steveston Community Centre (soup, pizza, fruit, bagels, coffee). It was nice to have a place to gather inside given what was going on outside. And although I didn’t win a door prize, there were some pretty awesome items to be won, including gift cards from the Running Room, MEC and local restaurants, and even free flights with Harbour Air. Not bad, considering there were only about 275 participants in total!

Would I Run It Again?
I’m committed to bettering my time next year! This is a great local race – and although it has none of the frills (like t-shirts and finisher medals) of larger races, it’s got a positive atmosphere with a lots of familiar faces. See you in 2017!


Since my week consisted of 1) being sick and 2) running a race, I’m going to link up again with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! Join in by visiting either (or both!) of their pages!

Friday Five

I’ve never really been a gear-head, and I’m not the kind of person to be beholden to a brand. I like what I like, but I’m always willing to try new things and I’m pretty suggestible. However, since becoming a BibRave Pro in 2015, I’ve been rewarded with the opportunity to experiment with running-related gear that I might never had encountered otherwise. In addition, as I’ve increased my engagement (one of my Themes for 2016) with the running community both locally and on social media, I’ve been exposed to different ways of thinking and innovative products out in the market.

Without further ado, here are five running brands I’m loving right now!


When I first started running, it was a true struggle. One kilometre had me achy and winded. In those early days, it became clear that tracking my progress was motivating, so I outfitted myself with a Nike+ iPod. My commitment to running grew and technology – combined with social media interaction – became more of a priority. I switched from Nike to Garmin (mostly so I could use GPS without roaming fees!).

Running Brands - Strava

And then came Strava. While it’s not exactly ‘gear’, it is a social media platform and a community of athletes that has developed into a true inspiration. It syncs ‘automagically’ (one of my favourite words) with my Garmin, and I can follow my friends and running buddies all over the world. It has a great app! It’s free!

I welcome you to follow me – I’ll follow you back – right here.


One of my shortcomings when it comes to training is proper fuelling. My approach is somewhat ad hoc, I make things up as I go. But when I don’t hydrate properly – which nearly knocked me over during the 2014 Scotiabank Half – I suffer for it.

My very first encounter with nuun was at the expo of the Ottawa Half Marathon. These guys were awesome to talk to, and really stood behind their product. And now I do, too!

Running Brands - nuun

nuun comes in effervescent tablet form, and in a range of delectable flavours. Watermelon is my favourite, but lemon-lime is pretty tasty, too. Drop nuun into a glass or bottle of water, and you’re off to the races – or, perhaps, recovering from one! Drink up!


Running Brands - xx2i

I’m not going to reiterate too much what I already wrote in my recent review of xx2i Sunglasses. What I can tell you, though, is that I cannot wait until the rainy Vancouver winter turns into a sunny summer, because I will be wearing these things ALL THE TIME. I’m enamoured with xx2i. Enough said – but seriously, go read my review for the real scoop!


Oh, Buff – what can I say about you that hasn’t already been said? If there was one running item that gave me the most delight in 2015, it would be Buff. It’s a headband! It’s a neck warmer! It’s a cap! If you happen to have hair – unlike me – it’s a hairband! This multi-functional piece of material has become a staple of both training runs and races, especially since the weather turned a bit chillier.

Running Brands - BUFF

I’m actually wearing TWO Buffs!

Again, I’m not going to give you the full run-down here…so check out my more-thumbs-up-than-I-have review!

SAD FACE: I think I’ve lost my Buff from the Overlander Half Marathon in Yellowknife (pictured above).


Full confession – my fifth ‘brand I love’ is one that I’ve never tried. Let’s call it unrequited love.

Orange Mud

Running Brands - Orange Mud

On its reputation alone, Orange Mud is a product I want to get to know better. Generally speaking, on long runs I’m beholden to:  water stations during races; Coach Carey’s water stop during our Forerunners clinic; or water fountains around town. I cannot and will not wear a water belt – I’ve tried and it was sheer misery.

During a recent #bibchat (Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific!), I heard nothing but positive reviews of the Orange Mud Hydraquiver. It seemed to me that these folks should be hired on a salespeople by Orange Mud, so passionate were their professions of love enthusiasm for this product.

Running Brands - Orange Mud

Since I can’t speak from first-hand experience, I’m going to refer you to a review by fellow BibRave Pro, Chadd Balbi – read his post here.

I may have convinced myself to make Orange Mud my next running purchase!


What about you? What’s your favourite running brand?
And what’s on your wish list – that brand you really want to try out?


As you might have guessed, the theme of this week’s Friday Five is ‘Favourites’. I’m excited to once again link up with the awesome folks of the DC Trifecta:  Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar on the Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!

Disclaimer: I received a UV Full BUFF® to review 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!

UV Buff

My social media-savvy Dad saw one of my posts about the BUFF® a couple of weeks ago. He couldn’t quite understand what it was all about, so I explained a bit about the product. Then he asked me, “Why is it called that?” I didn’t know the answer. Now I do.

The BUFF® was actually invented in Spain. The name BUFF® comes from the Spanish bufanda, which means bandana – logical enough!

Before receiving the UV BUFF® via BibRave, I was lucky enough to get an event BUFF® as swag from the Overlander Sports Half Marathon (click for race report) in Yellowknife. So I had a chance to try it out before ‘offically’ trying it on for review!

UV Buff

What the heck IS a BUFF®?

In case you aren’t already familiar with the BUFF®, it’s basically a stretchy tube of material that can be worn in a variety of ways for different sporting activities. A few of the styles – like the balaclava – are more appropriate for folks using it for skiing or similar ‘helmet’ sports. Not quite my speed of things! Other styles are great for people with hair – again, not something that works for me.

The product is seamless, which amazes me – apparently using some tubular sewing technology. The UV BUFF® we got to test also blocks 95% of harmful UV rays. It’s moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and made of Coolmax Extreme fibre. It’s soft and breathable.

If you visit the Buff USA website (or the websites of BUFF® in other countries), you will find an dizzying array of colours, designs and products. Seriously, the selection is ridiculously amazing! And, like my event BUFF® mentioned above, custom styles are available.

My BUFF® Experience

Due to challenges with international shipping, a lot of other BibRavePro’s were getting their BUFF® products and showing them off online. But some very helpful folks tracked down my package, and I was pleased to see my new UV BUFF® in this amazing colour:

UV Buff

Upon receipt, I did my due diligence, and researched all the different ways to wear the UV BUFF®. I found it a bit overwhelming at first, but I figured once I got the hang of things, I’d learn my favourites and become an expert. There’s a catchy ‘music-video’-type how-to video on the BUFF® website, with both male and female models demonstrating. However, I find that having an explanation makes more sense for me, so here’s the video that helped me the most:

I took my UV BUFF® out for its first trial run in Stanley Park at lunchtime. I went with the Pirate configuration. It looks a bit sloppy, but it was great on a humid, overcast day for wicking sweat and keeping it from running into my eyes.

UV Buff UV Buff

During a run around the Stanley Park Seawall, I decided to try the UV BUFF® under a hat. This time I use the Sahariane style, so I had the material hanging down and keeping the sun off my neck. The look is a bit too ‘layered’ for my taste, but it was effective.

UV Buff UV Buff

These next two photos were from the same race – the Van Race 15K. I wore the UV BUFF® as a neck gator during the race. It wasn’t a cold day, but I liked the feeling of it – honestly, once I was on the run, I barely noticed it. After the race, I changed into a clean shirt, ditched my sopping wet hat, and pulled the dry BUFF® over my head to keep off the sun. Perfect!

UV Buff UV Buff

And in the last week or so, the weather has cooled off. I have started wearing the BUFF® as a toque/cap – the first photo was during another lunch run, and the latter after finishing a very rainy Eastside 10K – again, stripping off my soggy racing gear and putting the BUFF® on as a warm recovery cap.

UV Buff UV Buff

BUFF® is honestly my new favourite brand! I have been looking for excuses to wear it on runs even when I don’t really need it (i.e. a cap would do). I’ve even taken to bringing along two – one for during the race, and one for after! If you scroll through my blog, you’ll see other photos of me rocking the BUFF® in a variety of ways!

If you love BUFF® products like me – or want to try one for yourself –  you can use code “bibrave10” for 10% off your order until the end of September! Don’t wait!!

Are you a BUFF® fan? What’s your favourite way to wear BUFF® products?

5 Peaks Trail Run
The weekend began like an early September weekend should – bright and sunny, with just a hint of chill in the air. And so began what I’m going to refer to as ‘my weekend of firsts’ – because not only would it be the first time I’ve run races on two consecutive days, but also because the races themselves are new to me: my first trail race, and my first cross country race!

I’ve covered the cross country race – the Vancouver Spirit Run – in another report. This report focuses on the 5 Peaks Trail Run, held on Mount Seymour in North Vancouver.

Briefly, 5 Peaks is a trail racing series held across the country, on “some of the most beautiful trails Canada has to offer!” The series originated in Vancouver in 1998. Each event has a free Children’s Challenge (50m – 1km), a Kidspeaks Timed Kids Challenge (about 3k), a Sport (5-8 km) entry-level course, and an Enduro (10-15 km) intermediate to advanced course. Learn more at

5 Peaks

And until last week, I knew literally nothing about 5 Peaks. Running a trail race had never even occurred to me. As I’ve said before, I’m a bit clumsy. I stumble over sidewalk cracks. I injure my knee on the corner of the bed frame (you’ll note the kinesio tape in my pics). I make note of things on the ground to avoid stepping on them, and moments later forget about them and end up stepping on them.

As such, my thinking was that a trail race would be disastrous for me. Roots and rocks? Not for me!

So how did I end up at the top of Mount Seymour ready to run on trails on a Saturday morning?

Thanks to Karin and the #WestVanRun Team, I got an entry to the 5 Peaks race. This literally came about less than a week before the race, after having just completed the VanRace 15k. I must have been on some sort of runner’s high, because with just a wee bit of hesitation – plus an offer to be chauffeured by Debra Kato in her green machine – I was in!

I don’t have trail shoes, so I just wore an old pair of Nikes. This would prove to be my only regret…

Race Day

As mentioned in my opening, it was a perfect day! Not a cloud in the sky. The parking lot at Mt. Seymour was packed – lots of people for the race, and I assume for hiking the backcountry. I’ve been to Seymour a couple of times, but always in the winter for snowshoeing. I was surprised how busy it was at 8:15am on a Saturday!

Debra and I collected our bibs and Buff toques (yay! More Buff for my growing gear collection!) and connected with members of the West Van Run Crew! More and more, I’m getting to know folks in the local running community, and love the pre-race energy and excitement. Many a race I’ve started out solo, and this is way more fun! (Thanks again to Debra for her awesome photography!)

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We watched some of the kids come in from their run (simply adorable!) and then cheered as the Enduro Course (9k) headed out on their epic journey. Then it was out turn. In my ignorance of what was to come, I was still grinning at the start line!

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I had read the course description ahead of time, but lines on a PDF map mean little in this type of terrain. Solana – the awesome Race Director – described the course while we were in the corral: fallen trees, muddy slopes – what have I gotten myself into?

[Tweet “Thinking of doing  your first trail run? Read all about @5peaks #trailrunning “]

The Course

I won’t even try to describe the course, because it’s somewhat of a blur. Here are a few ‘highlights’ that I can recall:

  • Running through a ‘meadow’ – which has romantic connotations for me, but it’s really a rock-strewn path lined with weeds and grass
  • Two fallen trees – requiring us to duck underneath (better than having to climb over)
  • Climbing Sliding down a gigantic boulder, probably about 5 feet high – very gingerly
  • Squooshy muddy spots – and that after months of drought and one weekend of rain. What if we’d had a wet summer?
  • Rough-hewn bridges and boardwalks of wet logs – tiptoed across those!
  • Beautiful scenery – towering trees, quiet lakes, flowers, sun and shade – truly BC!
  • Hills – slippy and treacherous on the way down, challenging and tiring on the way up
  • Roots, rocks, slippery roots, and more roots
  • The final hill. The final sole/soul-crushing hill. Gravel. And pain.

I elected not to take many pictures on the run, since I was afraid that if I took my eyes off my feet, I would fall flat on my face. These are the ones I risked taking:

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Oh, and I also snapped one selfie (the Buff around my neck ended up on my head to soak up sweat before the end of race):


During the first kilometre or so, people were pretty good at self-seeding. I let a few people pass me (where there was room on the trail), and I passed a few others along the way. For rest of the most of the run, we pretty much ended up in well-spaced single file.

5 Peaks

Photo courtesy of

My only annoying moment was a woman who was tiptoeing over some rocks, which is totally understandable – but once we got back on the path and I said: “I’m just going to pass you if it’s OK”, she actually moved over to block my way. I ended up skirting off the path to get around her. Maybe she didn’t hear me…

Another thought that crossed my mind when I was the one walking very delicately across slippery rocks…I wish I had a pair of trail shoes. This may be something on my wish list…

After the final, horrible hill – the last little bit of the race took us around the parking lot to the cheers of fellow runners, and across the finish line! My first trail race, done and done!


NOW I’m hard core!

We stayed around to cheer on the finishers of both the Sport and Enduro courses, and then to watch the complete awards ceremonies. There were also quite a number of giveaways, including shoes and Buff goods – I came away with a pair of XL Pearl Izumi socks! A few of our West Van Run team even made it to the podium! All in all, a spectacular day!



Will I do another trail race? You know what? I probably will! I don’t know where or when, but it will definitely happen! Stay tuned until then!

Final Results

Chip Time: 49:54 (wahoo! I beat my 50-minute goal time!)
Average Pace: 8:19 min/km
Overall: 70/140
Age Ranking: 10/16



If you skipped straight to the summary and don’t feel like reading the details, here’s the summary: my first trail race was well-organized, fun, a bit nerve-wracking (but in a good way), and totally awesome. Full stop.

Packet Pickup/Expo
I’m not sure if there was packet pickup prior to the day of (I don’t think so), but when we arrived it was a quick ‘give my name’ at the table and the bib was yours. Done and done. No fuss, no muss.

No t-shirt, BUT we got an awesome 5 Peaks branded Buff toque, which I will most definitely wear this winter! There were also a whole bunch of prizes and giveaways (won via heads/tails game, shoe toss, and rock-paper-scissors).

I have nothing to compare it with, but this 6k ‘sports’ course was what I would describe as ‘technical’. There were roots, rocks, branches, water, mud, hills, rocks, grass, gravel, roots…and that was on repeat. It was also absolutely beautiful, true BC backcountry experience! The course was well marked with flags, so no issues finding our way.

Aid Stations
No aid stations on the course – though there were some great volunteers/course marshals who were so encouraging and helped keep us on trail.

Well-stocked at the finish line – bananas, oranges, cookies, coffee (bring your own mug!), and chips (yay! chips!). And as mentioned above, lots of giveaways!

Race Management
Solana did an absolutely amazing job of organizing this event. I was especially impressed with pre-race communication, which was very thorough and left no doubt about what to expect (except for the crazy hill at the end…). I would assume that all of the 5 Peaks races Solana is involved with are like this one…so excellent.

Have you ever done a trail race? What was your experience?

Should I get trail shoes??


Did you ever have one of those days – one of those races – that was just right?

Well, the Van Race was one of those races!

You wouldn’t have known it, but the Van Race 15k/30k was an inaugural race. With fantastic communication and social media presence from sign-up onwards, things were executed flawlessly – at least from my perspective. As you read on, you’ll learn that I have no constructive criticism for this event. Here’s how the weekend went down…

[Tweet “Read all about the inaugural @VanRaceBC – Vancouver’s newest race!”]


After a long hiatus due to her sprained ankle and a bunch of travel, Emily and I finally connected for a run. We did a loop around Stanley Park, ending up with nearly 15k…the day before my 15k. No matter. We took it slow, chatted the whole way, and felt pretty good as we relaxed at Starbucks for a post-run coffee.

Then, prior to package pickup, I went to physio. I’ve been having some issues with my knee, you see, since banging it (oh so very very hard) on the corner of the bed frame a couple of months back. Various pushes, prods, twists and yanks later, I was assured that there was no serious damage. But to help with alignment and pain management, I came away with this:

Knee tape

Package pickup was a low-key affair at one of the local Running Room stores. I met up with Ben & Keiko.

Ben and Keiko Ben and Bradley

Collected my bib, and an awesome bag of jelly beans!!

Race package

Relaxed in the afternoon, and enjoyed some greasy Chinese takeout for dinner.


The day dawned cool and overcast – ideal, really, for any race day. I grabbed a car2go and scooted across Granville Bridge, parking a couple of blocks away from Charleston Park – just east of Granville Island. Soon enough, we had gathered as planned – the members of the WestVanRun Team! (Shameless plug: 10% off West Van Run registration using code ‘bradley’!)

WestVanRun Team

Debra, Samantha, Steve, Jin, Kirill, Bradley, Fiona, Ben & Sarah

As we lined up for the restroom, I was showing off my taped-up knee to Debra. The girl in front of us in line said: “Oh ya, I saw that on Twitter” – and with that, a social media acquaintance became an in-person friend! Nice to meet you, Corinna (aka @gusgreeper)!


Corinna won her age group!

Both distances – 15k and 30k – started at the same time. However, in order to get in the full 30k, there was a short out-and-back for those runners. As such, we all started at the same time – but going in different directions! I absolutely love this video of the start line:

[twitter_video id=”640534021684879360″]

With our head start, the 15k-ers headed along the Seawall, around Science World, and past Yaletown. The scenery, as per usual, was amazing. Here’s a single (and slightly blurry) shot of the calm waters of False Creek:

False Creek

The first 30k runner passed us around the 4km mark (i.e. his 6km mark) – incredible. And then as I was passing the Aquatic Centre at 6km – the lead 15K runners (most of whom were members of WestVanRun Team!) were on their way back (close to 9km for them now). Here come Kirill, Jin, and Steve (Ben passed me, too, but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera):

Kirill Jin Steve

At English Bay, we did a wee loop and headed back from whence we had come. Now, of course, I was encountering more of the 15k gang, as well as all of the 30k runners. Came across new IRL (in real life) friend Fiona, and Debra in her stylish tutu! (And the photo of me that Debra was taking!)

Fiona DebraBradley on the Run

I spent the rest of the run trying to ignore my Garmin, and just enjoy the ride. I tried to smile at every runner I passed, greeting and cheering on those who were paying attention. I must have been grinning like an idiot, though, because an older couple out for a walk in Yaletown said, “You look too happy for being in a race!” But I was having a good time, soaking it all in.

The crowds eventually thinned and I tried to keep up with a couple of the racers ahead of me. As we approached the finish line, I kicked it up a notch. Although I didn’t have an actual goal time, I ended up with a result that kept me smiling for the rest of the day!


Took full advantage of the post-race yummies – including the usual suspects like fruit and water, enough Starbucks coffee for refills, and some awesome baked goods and Terra Bread! Special thanks to the volunteers!!

Baked goods Volunteers

Hung around with the rest of the WestVanRun Team to cheer in both 15k and 30k runners, enjoyed two rounds of awards, and had an all-round fabulous time! Also – caught up with Ethan, who won my VanRace giveaway and conquered the 30k!!

Fiona Fiona and Bradley Kirill Jin and Kirill Ben Ethan and Bradley

Lastly, the remnants of the team trudging uphill to Debra’s ‘green machine’ for the ride home!


Final Results – VanRace 15K

Chip Time: 1:12:56
Average Pace: 4:51 min/km
Overall: 36/144
Age Ranking: 8/24


Hard to believe that the VanRace was an inaugural race! Very well organized, excellent social media presence, scenic course, quick results – nothing bad that I can think of!

Packet Pickup/Expo
Packet pickup was held on Friday night and Saturday afternoon at the Running Room. Quick and friendly, with some of the excellent volunteers on hand. No expo for this race.

The VanRace t-shirt was really nice, but had to be purchased separate from registration. I do not need more t-shirts, so I didn’t get one. We did, however, get jelly beans in our swag bag!

Lovely, unique medal – a little small, but honestly that’s just an observation, not a complaint!

The VanRace 15k route was an out-and-back along the Seawall. From Charleston Park (not too far from Granville Island), it loops around False Creek, past Science World and Yaletown, under Granville and Burrard Bridges, as far as English Bay. Then we head back the way we came! The Seawall is one of the jewels of Vancouver, and this early on a Sunday it wasn’t too packed with local dog walkers! Flat and fast!

Aid Stations
There were several aid stations with very enthusiastic volunteers. They had Northstar and water. I partook of just two. But I knew I had the support if I needed it!

Good selection of food – water, oranges, bananas, yoghurt, granola bars, baked good/sweets, Terra Bread, and Starbucks coffee! I stayed for the awards ceremonies for both 15 and 30K, but didn’t win anything.

Race Management
As mentioned above, it’s hard to believe this was the first year of the VanRace. They did a bang-up job. Nice and small, well organized, friendly, good communication – and FUN! Maybe I’ll tackle the 30k next year?

VanRace bib and medal

Have you run any ‘uncommon’ race distances? Do you strive for the ‘automatic PB’?
What has your experience been with inaugural races? Pros and/or cons?