Date: 5/6/2018

Location: Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Start Time: 8:30am

Avg Temps (f): 58/45

Time Limit: 7 hours

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. Other races include a Half Marathon, 8km race, a relay, and a kids’ run.

Lessons Learned

  • Most of all, 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. They will not be giving out finish line blankets.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 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 incline, which can feel like a kick in the teeth so close to the finish, so be ready for that


Type: Point to Point

Start/Finish Info: Starting in Queen Elizabeth Park (south of Downtown) and finishing Downtown Vancouver after circling Stanley Park.

Hills: Rolling hills throughout, with the biggest gain of ~250 feet from miles 4.4-7.4

Course Map and Elevation

Aid stations

Locations of water stations: About every 1.5-2 miles (21 total)

Locations of electrolyte stations: About every 2 miles (15 total)

Electrolyte offered: Nuun Performance drink, Chocolate Chips flavored Clif Bars at miles 8 and 17.5, Cliff gels at mile 12, bananas at mile 19

Spectator access

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 (see course map). Note that start and finish line are in a different location

Boston Qualifier?


Race reports (good course description section by section)

Strava activities and GPX files

Race Website