BMO Vancouver Half Marathon Race Report – Ping S

Race: BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Runner: Ping S

Race Date: 05/05/2019

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Results: 1:27:32

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

It’s a great city to visit, the course is quite pretty with some stretches of stunning views, and the race is a well oiled machine. Also I appreciate the fact that the race organizers start their introduction to the runners in the corrals by acknowledging that the race is taking place on the “unceded” lands of several of Canada’s first nations, something I’ve never heard at any US road race and that, window dressing though it might be, is a salient reminder of history.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

Part of me likes point-to-point races, but part of me also enjoys not having to “travel” to the start line – people here usually take a cab / car, or take the Canada Line to the KE stop which is a ~10 minute walk from the start area.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Paced well and finished strong despite the uneven elevation profile. Ran a course PR by over a minute.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

To all the Americans out there – do not forget that the elevation chart is in meters, not feet, so multiply everything by 3.3. Nearly all the Americans I talked to who were running for the first time thought the course was relatively flat – i.e., thought that the opening downhill, which is quite massive, wasn’t going to be “that bad” because it looks like less than 100 “feet” on the course elevation chart – but of course is actually 3.3x steeper than that. Ditto for the rolling hills in the latter part of the course.

Number two is to save something for miles 9-13, where the largest uphill on the course is (Pipeline Rd) and where the Stanley Pk rollers are.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

4th time I’ve run this one so nothing new, really.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Don’t start out too fast! The first two miles are screaming fast with a 300ft downhill, but the rest of the course is actually a net uphill from there, with a big hill at ~9 and rollers thereafter.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes! Coming down that first opening hill you have a view of the glittering Vancouver skyline in front of you and the snowcapped mountains beyond – amazing. Rounding along the seawall and into Stanley Park you have beautiful bay and city views as well.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

As noted, tougher than you might expect if you buy in to the “net downhill” marketing and misread the elevation chart as being in feet. And also tougher than most think simply because the downhill is all in the first 2 miles.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Definitely a well oiled machine.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Usually pretty strong.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

I believe the race did sell out this past year but as far as I can recall that was the first time in the four years I’ve run it.

Weather and typical race conditions

In the 4 years I’ve run this race conditions have been quite good – 50s (F) at the start and clear with light winds. YMMV, of course.

How’s the Swag?

They used to have Saucony shirts but now have generic brand shirts, which are definitely not as nice. Ah, well…

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5/5 as a race, 3.5/5 as a “fast” course – it’s definitely not the slowest road course out there but it’s not made for PRs.