When: Oct 22-23, 2016                        Where: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Well, we have decided that we would do one Rock ‘n’ Roll race event each year. Last year my wife and I did Las Vegas and had a blast. This year Vancouver. To run the Vegas strip at night was a once in a lifetime experience. It was very crowded and a lot of disrespectful people did not go to the correct corral; turning the entire half marathon into an obstacle course as I had to pass several thousand runners. This year, we chose Vancouver hoping that it would be a little more low key.

We flew into Vancouver on Friday night and took the SkyTrain from the airport to downtown and then walked to the Convention Centre to pick up our race packages. The race shirts were Brooks tech shirts, :). The expo was nice and had plenty of giveaways. I bought my gels for the half marathon and bought some new sunglasses. Then we walked to our hotel and checked in.

Saturday morning we got up and got ready and walked a half hour over to the starting area for the Cunningham Seawall 10K. There were public washrooms at the beach and a fun atmosphere with music and smiles all around. The weather was overcast and cool; perfect running weather. We had no troubles with the gear check that was very well organized and then headed to our corrals. There were still a lot of people who were either ignorant of the corral system or just plain did not care that by skipping ahead to an earlier corral they were negatively impacting all of the runners who did respect the system. If you are assigned corral number 8, it is because all of the people in the first 7 corrals are planning to run faster than you. So, when you decided to join corral 2 instead, you are forcing a few hundred people to have to pass you on a not very wide course. Everyone deserves to have fun and safety at an event like this, please go to the corral for which you are assigned. Ok, enough with my rant.

I was planning to take it easy in the 10K event because I was also running the half marathon the next day and wanted to save my legs, but as soon as the race started, I went into race mode and went all out. The course was along the Seawall on a paved and very level running path. No road crossings. The fall scenery was beautiful as we weaved along the shore. There were 3 water stations but I was carrying my own water so I ran right by these stations down the middle and used these as an opportunity to pass the slower runners and walkers were seeded themselves ahead of me and who were stopping in front of the water tables, blocking people who were trying to run. These larger events often make for crowds and potential injury if you are not careful at the aid stations.

The course took a short out and back peak into Stanley Park, which provided the only hill on the course. After that it was a nice level 3K to the finish. This race had 3071 finishers. I set a new personal best 10K, shaving a minute and a half off my previous best 10K and finishing under 50 minutes for the first time ever! My wife also set her own personal best 10K. The finishers area had medals, water, bananas, Gatorade bottles, corn cakes, and Goldfish crackers. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon folks sure know how to look after runners. There was a DJ playing on the main stage and we picked up our gear that was driven over to the finish area in buses and then walked back to our hotel.

Sunday morning the half marathon starting area was only 2 blocks from our hotel. There was a light drizzle in the air before the sun came up as runners began filling the streets. One whole block was lined on both sides with Porto potties.

The Half Marathon course weaved all over downtown Vancouver. The race started with a long downhill and I was off to a very fast start. We ran through Gastown, over a large bridge and back, past Rogers Area where the Vancouver Canucks play, past BC Place where the BC Lions CFL football team plays, back through the heart of downtown. The aid stations had both water and Gatorade and 2 of the stations were also handing out gels. The course then headed through Stanley Park which was gorgeous this time of year with the leaves changing colours. There were several band stands along the course and plenty of cheering supporters.

My legs were burning and my left foot was very sore, but I continued to push myself as hard as I could. I finished the race with a new personal best half marathon time. This was my 4th sub 2 hour half finish and my first finish under 1 hour 55 minutes. I was very proud of my accomplishment. The Half Marathon had 5268 finishers.

The finish area in the Devonian Park was the same finish area used the day before by the 10K race and they had all the same finishing swag as the day before, but also had energy bars and protein drinks. I picked up my remix challenge medal at the challenge tent. A lot of people were picking up their Pacific Rim challenge medals for running both the Seattle event and the Vancouver event and I also saw a number of people picking up their Canada Classic medals for completing the Montreal event as well as the Vancouver event.

Tired and sore, we walked back to the hotel for some much needed rest. I am already looking forward to next year. My wife and I are strongly considering the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll event in 2017. Gotta get my remix on!