My last West Van Run experience was 3 years ago, before I was even a West Van Run ambassador. I remember it being a small but mighty event. It was also special to me because it was the first time I broke an hour in a 10k. The following two years, schedules conflicted and I was only able to experience WVR through Facebook posts and lots of FOMO. 2019 was the year I’d make my return though… and I went all out.
This year I volunteered and raced both days. If you checked a bag on Saturday, I probably took your bag in or found it for you after. On Sunday, I helped with bib pickup craziness. 3 years ago, I didn’t remember a crowd this big. It’s nice to see a small community event explode in size. That being said, it’s very clear how important volunteers are to events like this. On Saturday, we had more than enough people at Gear Check and Package Pickup that everything worked seamlessly.
The next day, we had less volunteers. Thus, there were some challenges handling the extremely long lineup of people waiting to pick up their bibs. We can definitely change a few things for next year to make the process more seamless, but an extra hand or two (or 4) would’ve made a world of difference. If you want to help out next year, I highly encourage it. Not just for this race but for others you have an affinity for. They will appreciate the help and so will all the runners. Thanks for being so patient with us!
West Van Run 5k
The West Van Run courses changed this year. Both courses start off the same way, at the West Vancouver Community Centre. It heads west towards Dundarave and then makes its way down to Bellevue. Runners then head eastbound, with a short detour on Argyle (hello, extra hill). Once back on Bellevue, keep going a little further until 14th Street where you make a right at the train crossing and back west on the Spirit Trail. You’ll turn towards the seawall at 18th Street and from there it’s just a few hundred meters to the finish.
My original plan was to take it easy on the 5k and race the 10k. Thanks to some unforeseen events, I wasn’t able to properly continue my 10k training plan. I decided to try my best for the 5k and run by feel for the 10k. It was a chill morning spent volunteering until about 15 minutes before race start. I joined the warmup and soon enough, we were off. It started off really fast with a long downhill. I felt good, energized, and kept up with the crowd. It’s a fast course; however, there were some long-ish gradual hills and some short steeper ones. I struggled to power through sometimes but I kept up as best as I could. I ran hard, did the best I could on little training, and surprised myself with a 27:40 chip time. That was less than a minute more than my personal best. I was pretty happy with that performance and pumped me up for Day 2.
When I finished, I heard from several people, that a train prevented a group from going through the train crossing. For once my lack of speed was a benefit, as I completely missed it. Others unfortunately had to deal with adding a couple of minutes to their time, which is massive. What are the chances? That’s life, I guess.
West Van Run 10k
The West Van Run 10k starts off the same way as the 5k but instead heads over for a loop around Park Royal and around Ambleside Park. There’s a little bit of an out and back along the Spirit Trail first before you head back on the seawall to the finish line. This course didn’t have a railway crossing so there was no train delay. One thing I learned from the first race was not to overdress. I opted for capris and a single shirt layer with arm sleeves instead of 2 long sleeves. It was a smart decision.
What a difference a day makes. Volunteering was so hectic that I was still wearing pants at 5 minutes to race start. Thankfully, they added some extra time and started the race almost 10 minutes later. Needless to say, I wasn’t warmed up and slightly stressed as we started. It didn’t matter, my goal was just to do the best I can. I tried running alongside Mary-Louise, the 55 minute pacer, but that was short-lived lol. Soon, Karen, the 60 minute pacer, caught up with me. I made a break for it at a long downhill and kept up the momentum heading to Park Royal. The 10k course seems a lot faster than the 5k, I quite enjoyed it. I wanted a time of under an hour. The way I was running, I knew it was possible so I focused on that. I ended up with a 58:54, a whopping 2 seconds faster than 3 years ago LOL. My fitness seems to be good this early in the season. I was about a minute off from my 10K PB at Summerfast. I got my sub-hour goal and ended up with a 2 second West Van Run PB. I’ll take it.
As I mentioned, this race has grown exponentially since the last time I ran it. Aside from some pre-race hiccups, the races were seamless. For me anyway, those who were blocked by the train were another story. The route was well-marked with cones, barriers, and friendly course marshalls. There was an aid station for the 5K and at least 2 for the 10K (I can’t remember for sure). Having the event at the community centre was a great idea. It kept people warm before and after the race and there was lots of room for the food tents. There was also lots of room at the front yard for vendor tents. Some people even got massages!
Runners were treated to complimentary snacks (like chips, fruit and others) and coffee after the race. I didn’t really have time to get to the food because I was volunteering after the race, too. I did manage to get a juice box, which hit the spot at the time. There were also lots of free race photos from 3 on-course photographers. If you haven’t seen them yet, you can find them on the West Van Run Facebook page.
The Village Taphouse at Park Royal was a partner once again. Finishers could redeem a free beer if they visited the restaurant that day and showed their bib. A group of us did just that as well as many other runners. It was a short drive from the community centre and a great place to have brunch after. It capped off a very successful and fun racing weekend.