There aren’t too many places in the world as pretty as Vancouver, BC at the end of June, which makes the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon a must-hit on any racer’s calendar. But only if you enjoy fast times, favourable conditions and incredible scenery around every turn! Saucony is proud to be the official Athletic Partner of one of Canada’s premiere races. We asked Race Director and Saucony ambassador, Ryan Chilibeck, to lead us through what to expect come race day.
Before becoming Race Director, Ryan was a three-time veteran of the Vancouver Half, and he views it as an important milestone in the full-year race season. “It provides a great summer goal race on the way to that fall marathon season,” Ryan says. “It’s easy to lose sight of your end goal while your friends are all hitting the beaches and breweries, but throwing a half marathon race into your annual calendar can help keep you motivated through the summer months.”
Even if your immediate goal at the start line isn’t part of some bigger picture, however, this race still has a place for you, Ryan says. “From first half-marathons to big personal bests, this course is the perfect race for whatever your goal is. I really like that it is small enough that you don’t ever feel too rushed or trampled, but it has the polish and professionalism that Canada Running Series events are known for.”
Contributing in large part to the race’s laid-back feel is the part of the world in which it takes place. It’s hard not to start out in a good mood on what’s becoming well-known as one of the most scenic routes of its kind in Canada - and the world.
“The course is beautiful from start to finish,” Ryan says. “But I really enjoy the first eight kilometres up at UBC. There is a lot of adrenaline flowing as you head out on Southwest Marine Drive with lots of room to find your rhythm. You get to see all your friends that you didn’t find at the starting line and before you know it you are heading down towards Spanish Banks!”
As it happens, this is also part of the course that can test a runner’s mettle right off the bat. “Overall, the course boasts a large net downhill with the largest section taking place as you descend from UBC,” Ryan tells us. “Like many, I learned the hard way not to push too hard down this hill or your quads will be toast by the bottom. Run this section comfortably, and save up the energy for later in the race when your legs will need the extra spring.”
“This is definitely a course that is made for speed if you do your homework,” he adds.
And that means showing up prepared, beyond the months of training you’ve put in. Certainly, the weather is one of the draws of Vancouver’s race but it can quickly become a burden if you’re not ready.
“The past few years have been quite toasty during race time,” Ryan warns. “Make sure to hydrate appropriately in the days leading up to the race and throughout the course. Also make sure to pack some sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. If the sun is out then you can feel pretty exposed for the final 11 km of the race!”
But once you make it through, Ryan promises, you’ll be rewarded with “one of the best finish line views anywhere in the world!”
“It is definitely a unique, point-to-point course for Vancouver that allows you to see a lot of the city throughout your 21.1 km journey,” he adds.
Of course, if you’re coming out to the west coast for the race, you’ll want to leave a little extra time to enjoy all the natural wonder the region has to offer. Ryan recommends heading over to the North Shore for some hiking and jaw-dropping views. (Or just take the gondola up Grouse Mountain, and save those legs for race day!)
“If your body is aching after the race,” Ryan suggests, “then head over to Third Beach for a dip in the ocean or waddle up the street to The Score on Davie for a celebratory Caesar. Once you get a bite to eat and your legs are feeling a bit better, take the water taxi over to Athlete’s Village to sit on a patio and do some people watching.”
Finally, if you’ve any energy left over, Ryan invites you to get a deeper sense of the local running scene of which he’s so proud. “If you’re sticking around after race weekend,” he says, “definitely try and hook up with one of Vancouver’s run crews to get a unique perspective on the running community in our amazing city.”
So go for a personal best, or go for the post-event party. In Vancouver, you can go for both. Register now at the CRS website – you’ve got all spring to work out the details.