Summary: BMO Vancouver Marathon is a scenic Boston Qualifier that takes runners past beaches, through natural parks, and along Vancouver’s Seawall – the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path. Races include a Half Marathon, 8km race, a relay, and a kids’ run.
Lessons Learned from Race Reports
- (Half) Easy to start out fast with the initial downhill – just don’t burn out the quads, given you have plenty of rollers left in the race
- If it’s hot, which is has been hot more than cool in years past, the aid stations start to feel far apart by the second half, so drink up at each one!
- While it’s a scenic course, most people are surprised by how hill it is throughout
- Not a PR friendly course because of the rolling hills and one longer hill early on
- Course is sort of a tale of two halves, the first half being hillier, and the second half being flatter but harder mentally because there are long, flat stretches where you can see ahead, it’s the second half, and there’s a slight incline to the finish
- With the Start and Finish being in different locations and weather being likely to change, if you want specific clothing at the start and/or finish, be sure to use the gear check.
- Use public transportation to get to the start, as parking is a hassle and the race makes it easy to use it for free or by using shuttles
- Past years have seen it chilly at the start and quickly warming up, so be prepared
- If it’s sunny or hot at all, this makes for a more challenging day, as it’s very exposed for much of the course.
- There are pace groups, and aid stations tend to get crowded when they go through, so if you don’t like crowds, don’t run behind them
- The course is not flat, but is more rolling hills, with one longer hill, then a few steep, short ups
- Course markings are in kilometers, with a few key spots in miles, so be ready for lots more counting!
- The marathon course also starts with a slight uphill for about the first mile, which runners don’t usually notice because they just got started, but often run too hard to start and that burns too much energy from the start
- The hill from about miles 4.4 – 7.4 of the marathon feels hard compared to the rest of the course, even though it’s not steep.
- There is a nice long downhill stretch leading up to the halfway point of the full.
- Several sections with fans, but several sections without any people cheering, so be prepared for some quiet miles
- Just after mile 18 is the Burrard Bridge, which doesn’t look hard on paper, but a lot of race reports mention disliking this bridge. It’s also a mile marker where people typically start to fade so it probably seems all the harder at that point
- The flattest continuous stretch of the marathon is the last 10k, so if you still have your legs under you, you can go fast in this section and it’s not the death march, mental struggle that it is for a lot of other runners who went out too fast
- The Stanley Park seawall is a bit hard because it’s a mental game getting around the 10k of flat, paved pathway, because you know you are close, yet you feel so far away from the finish.
- The last 10k along Stanley Park has some tight turns, which can be challenging on tired legs late in the race
- The race ends with a slight uphill for both races, which can feel like a kick in the teeth so close to the finish, so be ready for that
Type: Point to Point (both half and full)
Start/Finish Info: Starting in Queen Elizabeth Park (south of Downtown) and finishing Downtown Vancouver. Full marathon runs a bit more waterfront, circling Stanley Park, whereas the half runs more in town and runs waterfront and through Stanley Park for the second half.
(Half) Loss of ~100 feet in the first 2 miles, then rolling hills for the remainder, with one ~50 foot hill and other smaller, 10-25 foot hills
(Full) Rolling hills throughout, with the biggest gain of ~250 feet from miles 4.4-7.4
(Half) Course Map and Elevation
(Full) Course Map and Elevation
Locations of water stations:
(Half) About every 1.5-2 miles (8 total)
(Full) About every 1.5-2 miles (21 total)
Locations of electrolyte stations:
(Half) Nuun at aid stations 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 & 8, Clif Gels/Bloks at aid station 3, Bananas at aid station 5
(Full) Nuun at aid stations 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, Clif Bars at aid stations 6 & 14, Clif Gels at aid station 9, Bananas at aid station 15
Access Locations: Easiest locations to access are likely along the roads rather than when the runners dip into the parks and run along the water and in Stanley Park. Note that start and finish line are in a different location for both races.
Strava activities and GPX files
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