I didn’t have a chance to pick up my race packet on Friday, so when I arrived at the start area 45 minutes before start time I was a little bit nervous about the long line getting into the fenced off start/finish area, which was only open to those ages 21 and over. I had my ID ready, the line moved quickly, and I picked up my packet with plenty of time before the start. I wonder if it would be possible to offer the ID check at packet pickup as well to speed up the lines.
The race started right on time at 6pm, and it was plenty warm by then. I was glad to know there would be two water stations on the course (both offered water and Gatorade), but I also carried my own water. The start was a mass start, and just like last year I wished that there had been some sort of corralling for the runners. With 850 participants, it would have been good to at least divide into two groups, for example faster and slower than 10 min/mile. Since I was recovering from an injury, I lined myself up towards the back third and ended up trying to pass several walkers (many of them 2-4 people abreast) who must have been lined up near the front.
The course through downtown Vancouver and along the Columbia River was beautiful! I was happy to run this 4.3 mile circle on fresh legs, since I had been really struggling through those streets at the end of this year’s Vancouver Marathon in June. The volunteers were great, water stations well staffed and supplied. Mile markers were clearly visible and they matched my Garmin exactly. The biggest uphill of the course was in the last half mile, by which point I was very hot and didn’t have much more to give, but I crossed the finish line within minutes of my time from last year.
Being an evening race and very warm, I was happy that within just a few steps of crossing the finish line I had three chilled bottles of hydration in my hands (Gatorade, VitaCoco Lemonade, and Golazo). I was also pointed towards the back of the “Cosmo Garden” where I would be able to pick up my finisher’s filled Cosmo glass. Our racing bibs had tickets for three different flavors of cosmos, which you could redeem for classic cranberry, pomegranate or strawberry cosmopolitans. The sample tables were located in three different parts of the after-party area, and there were no lines when I went through. Additionally I got some oranges and bananas, Luna bar samples and Jamba Juice smoothies, so I had plenty of recovery food.
My main disappointment of the race was the fact that it was not family friendly at all. Usually my husband and children stay home during my races since they like to sleep in on the weekend, but an afternoon race, I thought, would be perfect for bringing my cheering squad. However, the entire pre- and post-race area was tightly fenced off and nobody under 21 was allowed to even browse the booths. At most other races I have been to (Energy’s Rum Run is one example) the alcohol area is fenced off and ID checked, but the other non-alcoholic vendor tables are accessible to participants and spectators of any age. Since I didn’t want to make my kids wait at the fence too long, I cut my after-party time a little shorter and headed out.
Overall I really enjoyed the race. I will quite likely have it on my calendar again for next year, but I’ll be sure to leave my under-age kids at home and plan on a girls/ladies night out with my running friends instead.