Disastrous training usually leads to disastrous results. Considering the two weeks prior to the 2013 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon were a complete training disaster thanks to the stomach flu and a nasty head cold, just what could I expect from my first Half marathon in BC?
BMO Vancouver Marathon and Half Marathon take place at the same time on May 5, 2013, with the Half marathoners running a different course from the marathoners. Each race is a one-way route, starting in a park and finishing in downtown. Consequently, the race could have some transportation problems getting to the race without prior planning. As Canada’s largest marathon/half, with over 15,000 runners, things can get crowded.
We decided to take the advice of the race directors and use public transportation to get to the start, parking our car in Gastown well away from the course.
There were quite a few runners and support crew, mostly dressed in blue and yellow in honor of the bombing during the Boston Marathon making their way to the start. A short walk to the Canada Line, a short underground subway ride, and a 15 minute walk and we were at the start 1 hour before the gun.
The weather was surprisingly perfect – in fact, many would say “warm”.
The organizers were smart enough to have “Urinal Troughs” (a first for me… why don’t more races do this?) for the men, and over 80 porta-potties for the 15,000 runners. The lines prior to the race still stretched a long distance, but I was fortunate enough to sneak in early.
The crowd waited patiently for the start at 0700. We waited. And… waited…
The race had started a little behind schedule with the only wheelchair participant pushing off and having a little trouble making it up the initial hill as the elite runners started off.
The elite start was called off and they turned around and walked back to the start. Meanwhile, with the encouragement and cheers from the crowds and a little help from the volunteers on bikes, the girl made it up the first little hill and was on her way, slowly but surely creating a gap between her and the elite runners at the start line.
The organizers improvised and kept the runers busy with warm up exercises demonstrated by two girls on top of a crane. Eventually, when they were happy with the gap created, the elite runners finally started and those in the Blue Corral – the second corral behind the elites – crossed the start around 0728.
Once the waves were underway, the course was fairly wide for the large number of runners, and until reaching Stanley Park, there was little in the way of crowding. Unfortunately, Stanley park did narrow a bit and some parts got rather crowded, but Canadians are polite runners and being able to find a niche and set your pace was only rarely infringed.
Aid stations were well placed, albeit with a limited selection compared to other races, but at least they were well stocked.
I walked through the well organized, block-long post race area which was not not well manned as many spectators spilled into the post race area, but they were respectful enough not to get in the way of the runners.
Everyone eventually funneled their way past the post race area to the street fair where plenty of activities and entertainment awaited the kids, including the BMO bear and other mascots, play zones, clowns, face painting, product booths with samples as a school band played on.