One event I haven’t missed since I started running is the BMO Vancouver Marathon. While I ran the longer events several times before, I thought it was time to try the shorter 8K distance. Just because it’s shorter, doesn’t make it easier. The course follows the last 8 kilometres of the half marathon course. I’m known to bonk around that point so I was excited to run the route on fresh legs.
The BMO 8K Course
The BMO Vancouver Marathon 8K starts on Lagoon Drive next to the Stanley Park Pitch n Putt. It quickly merges onto Stanley Park Drive and then you make a right on North Lagoon Drive. At just over a kilometer, you’ll hit Pipeline Road. It’s nice to get this hill out of the way really quickly. The half marathoners reach this hill at about the 15 km mark which can be discouraging. Runners head north until they make a right on Stanley Park Drive once again, following it all the way to the Vancouver Rowing Club. At that point, runners are directed onto the seawall, past Devonian Harbour Park. A quick right on Denman and left on Georgia, you’re about a kilometer away. The hard work isn’t over as the last 500 meters of the race is a false flat. Seeing the finish line ahead of you and feeling the slight incline on your legs is a mental and physical test.
The Health, Sports and Lifestyle Expo was held at Vancouver Convention Centre East this year, instead of West. It’s funny, we gravitated to the trail running-related booths like Run Like a Girl, Salomon and Suunto. We knew that Gary Robbins was in attendance so we made sure not to miss him. We chatted, wore orange foam beards and took photos.
I also bought myself a cool new hat from Run Like a Girl. Check them out when you can. They have a few trail races coming up in the summer plus they host adventure retreats for women.
Nuun Hydration was also there as an event sponsor. They provided the electrolyte drinks at the aid stations. There were a number of running brands and stores you could peruse at the expo but also some booths that seemed out of place. I feel like they should just stick to companies whose products directly relate to fitness, nutrition and running.
Package pickup was a breeze when I was there on the Friday evening. There were no lineups and I got my package and my t-shirt really quickly. No complaints! I can’t speak to how Saturday was but I assume it was busy. If you were there on Saturday, leave a comment and let us know whether to avoid Saturday package pickup in the future.
I love how the BMO 8K organizers think of how runners will get to their start lines. They provide free transit tickets and shuttles to the full and half marathoners. The 8k crowd gets a free shuttle of their own. You don’t need to sign up for an 8k shuttle (however for the others, you do). Just show up at Burrard and Pender (a block from Burrard Station), get in line and board. It left every 10 minutes within a certain time frame. I found it really convenient.
After getting off the bus, I ran about a kilometre to the start line. Half marathoners were already running along Beach Avenue so I met up with friends and cheered people on. When I ran the half, I always loved passing by the 8k start for the cheers. It was nice to be on the giving end of those cheers this time.
It’s gonna be hot.
The BMO 8K landed on my first week of ultra training. I was slated to do a 60 minute medium effort. I was prepared to take it easy but I thought, well what about a 50 minute hard effort instead? 😛 I knew I wasn’t as fast as I was last year but it didn’t hurt to try. As usual, I played it by ear. There were only two corrals for the 8k and I was in the first. I’ve never been in the first corral before. It was my “best chance” to win a race but realistically, I’m far away from that dream haha.
The sun was out and the weather was almost perfect. It got a little hot when we started actually. I was wearing arm warmers but I decided to tough it out and keep them on. The course was as up and down as I remembered but I felt good and strong. The climbs were not as daunting and managed to power through them and enjoy a downhill recovery. I did find myself trying to find shade as the sun was beating down on us. The clear day made for a spectacular view though.
The last sprint
I had to save some energy for the last kilometre because I knew it was going to mess with me. It kinda sucks seeing the finish line ahead of you and seemingly taking forever to get there. Thankfully the crowd lined Pender Street and cheered for my slow ass. 😛 I saw the clock and I was within my 50 minute goal. I sprinted as fast as I could and managed a 49:51 chip time. That result coming from a race with no expectations was excellent. After I got my medal, I found a spot along the fencing to watch former Boston Marathon champ Yuki Kawauchi and his fiancée Yuko Mizuguchi shatter the competition with their matching marathon wins. It was a great day to see a new course record set.
I’ve been doing this event for many years now and it’s always been so well-organized and fun. The BMO 8k is fantastic for new runners. It’s shorter but will still challenge you with the hills you’ll come across. The shirt this year is ok, not my favourite. What I liked though is that they attracted more world class marathoners, which made the event more exciting and spread the word about our hometown race.
The medal was pretty though, paying tribute to some local mountains. A strange choice as this is a road race but I liked how it was designed. Rest assured, I will be back next year. Distance TBA. Right now though, it’s time to get back into the woods and focus on my A race. I’ll be writing another blog post soon about how ultra training is going so stay tuned!
Did you run the BMO Vancouver Marathon? How did you do? Tell me in the comments below.