I was trying to decide whether to sign up for this race or not. A friend told me it was a blast and at the same time I also wasn’t planning on spending for another race fee… but the draw of running around the seawall at night with hundreds of people wearing headlamps seemed like an amazing thing to be a part of. When work offered us free entry, it was a very easy decision. Zahra and I definitely took advantage 😛
Check out my race stats on Strava!
What is it?
The Night Race is an annual fun run held in 6 major Canadian cities. It involves running with the masses at night! In Vancouver, it was held at Stanley Park, where racers can choose from 5 and 10k options. There was even a kids’ race! Usually races happen first thing in the morning but this one happens at night, which is a totally different ballgame. The 10k started at 7:25 and the 5k shortly after. It’s a good way to see whether you’re a stronger morning or evening runner.
Pickup and Swag
Package pickup was held at the Running Room on Denman Street but the organizer at work picked everyone’s package up so I never made it there. In the tote, there was a nice navy blue Brooks tech tee with the race logo on it, an Energizer 4 LED headlight, my bib with timing chip, Glow Zone access bracelet (VIP), magazines and flyers for future races. We didn’t get medals, which was fine, I appreciated the headlamp instead. There was face painting at the start line plus glow stuff were handed out (which I didn’t get because I couldn’t make it across to where they were). The race was timed, the chip was built into the bib, although I heard from other people that there were problems with the timing system. Maybe next time they should choose another provider… There were professional photographers at the start/finish only (from what I saw), including a friend of mine, Sandra from Yaletown Photography. It was awesome to cross the finish line and see her! There was a bag check as well but I didn’t use it so I don’t know how well run it was.
This was mainly a Stanley Park seawall race. The 5k started at the Stanley Park Pavilion and headed south towards Devonian Park but went back up to the seawall. They passed the Brockton Point lighthouse, then headed back through Lumberman’s Arch and back up the steep hill to the Pavilion. The 10k started and ended at the same place but we looped around the entire park, turned left at Second Beach pool, ran the south side of Lost Lagoon and then hit the final steep hill. This course is actually exactly the same as the Hot Chocolate Run, which I did 6 months ago. It is also NOT 10k, it’s actually 10.4k, which is how the Hot Chocolate Run advertised it as. That makes me question how long the 5k actually was. Running the seawall in complete darkness was pretty amazing. When you look back, all you can see are dancing white lights outlining the seawall. We also lucked out on the weather, it was a clear, cool night with a full moon. Twinkly lights, neon, full moon, it was a neat sight to see.
The finish line was festive, colourful lights, upbeat music, with lots of people cheering at the finish line. They handed out bottles of water, McCafe was there handing out coffee, and there was a long lineup for free beer (unfortunately it was Molson, which I’m not a fan of). We walked in the Pavilion where a DJ was rocking the house. The Glow Zone was in the back and there was free food for runners with access: french fries, burritos, potato chips, veggie and fruit platters, and mini cupcakes. We didn’t stay long though.
How Did I Do?
I ran to the start line from work, a downhill 2.4k jog. That was my warmup, and I normally don’t do warmup runs before the actual race. I don’t really know if it helped or not. The downhill towards the seawall was a bit of a bottleneck and people were barging to try to get in front, but I was like meh… I’ll take my time. Got on the seawall and found a pace I was comfortable with and I stuck with it. I decided to stop though at one point to take a photo of the lights on the seawall so I prob lost about a minute there. I was still coughing every once in a while, which made things a little more uncomfortable, but I generally felt good. There were a few other stops to grab water or dig for chews (that I realized was already empty) as well as rest a bit before the final steep hill. I had a little bit of gas left and sprinted the last hundred meters. I was spent. My chip time was 1:03:35. I was bummed because I thought I didn’t PB, but after some thought I realized oh it’s not a 10k, it’s slightly longer. So really, I don’t know how long it actually took me to do 10k. I looked at my Hot Chocolate Run results to compare and I beat my time by 4 minutes and I got tons of PR’s on Strava. So in hindsight, I actually did extremely well 🙂 I lost 4 minutes in 6 months… I’d say that’s a significant improvement 😛 It would’ve been nice if they had a timing mat at the measured 10k mark though so I could check to see what my actual 10k time was.
Would I Do It Again?
Yes! This race is so unique in many ways that it’s worth doing every year. There’s not a lot of people, you can probably PR it if you’re feeling good, and you get a free headlamp out of it. It’s too bad there aren’t any medals but I guess being able to see in the dark is more of a priority. A medal would be a nice keepsake though. I loved the Brooks tee, I wore it and it was very comfortable. The headlamp was comfortable too, I’ve never run with a headlamp and I had no problems (I wore it on top of my Great Climate Race cap). The seawall is always a fun yet deceptively challenging run. I wish they had multiple face painting and glow stations. They were all set up on one side of the pavilion. Unless you got there early enough, it will be hard to get to with all the people already lined up at the start. The post-race party was fun but I wish there was a better beer sponsor.
Photos by Carmen Marin