Over 500 runners and walkers turned out in downtown Vancouver on Sunday, March 22nd for the inaugural Couve Clover Run, which included 3-, 7-, and 10-mile races. A block of Main St. was closed to traffic for the start and finish, and a stage was set up for Irish dancers and a pre-race warmup. The atmosphere was festive, as green-costumed runners milled around before the start, comparing outfits and taking photos.
The course was a familiar one for downtown Vancouver races, but that didn’t make it any less fun or scenic. After one block north on Main St., we turned right, heading over I-5 and into the Fort Vancouver area and onto the path along Officers Row. At the end of the park, we took another right downhill and then headed west again on 5th St. toward the Fort, turning left onto the path and crossing the land bridge.
After running under SR 14, the 3-Mile course split from the longer races, taking a right while the 7- and 10-Milers headed east along the river for their respective out-and-backs. For the most part the course was well-marked, with red arrows pointing the way, and alert and friendly volunteers guiding us at the intersections.
I was running the 3-Mile, and we ran under I-5 and zig-zagged our way toward the southern edge of Esther Short Park. There was only one point where I was unsure of where to go, at the corner of Phil Arnold Way and Esther St.. There were no signs or volunteers at that corner so I crossed the street. But I knew we should probably turn right. Sure enough, I quickly spotted a volunteer at the next corner at 6th and Esther, so I crossed back over and was back on track! (And I probably should have taken the word of the volunteer at the previous corner, who said “Stay on the sidewalk to the right!”, but I over thought it – if thinking on the run is even possible) 😉
A couple more blocks of zig-zags and we rounded the final corner for the downhill finish. It was a great loop course for the 3-Mile, and a nice tour of the riverfront for the longer races. After crossing the line, runners received a big colorful medal, a souvenir water bottle (complete with cold water!), and plenty of fruit, bagels, Powerbars, and Gatorade.
Results were posted quickly, and runners could present their bib numbers to receive Irish coffee at the Dublin Down bar, and green beer and soup at The Main Event, both right next to the finish. Finishers could get their picture taken in front of a giant leprechaun (is that an oxymoron?), and there was a friendly vibe as runners cheered on finishers, took photos, and wandered back and forth between the bars.
Award winners were presented with medals, plaques, Powergel, and lottery tickets, and overall winners even received a box of Lucky Charms cereal. If you were really lucky, you even got interviewed on stage by Race Director Sherri McMillan! The first Couve Clover Run was a great success, very well-organized, and lots of fun!