The weather couldn’t have been any better for this October race! The air was crisp and the sky was blue when over 1,000 women and a few men gathered on the banks of the Columbia River to get ready for the Girlfriends Run for a Cure half or quarter marathon race. I hadn’t been able to make it to either of the two advance packet pickup options, so I arrived at the start line in downtown Vancouver about one hour before the start. There was lots of free street parking within a few blocks. It’s a good thing I got there early, because after I found packet pickup inside Warehouse 23, I soon realized that for the first time ever I had forgotten to register for the race I had on my calendar! My emotions went from confusion (they must be wrong!) to relief (now I don’t have to run!) to finally accepting that I’m already here and dressed and would just have to register on the spot. That went quickly, I got my swag bag, including beautiful long sleeve tech shirt and awesome race belt pocket (I refuse to call it a fanny pack!).
I checked my gear and headed back outside to check out the vendor booths and join the pre-start warmup and announcements. After the warmup, we were given instructions on where to line up with different anticipated paces, and the race started right on time at 9am.
I have run several races in Vancouver, and most courses use similar routes, but I think this was one of my favorite courses. From the start at Warehouse 23 on the Columbia, we headed north and uphill into downtown Vancouver, getting the biggest elevation gain out of the way in the first mile. We crossed I-5 after about 1.5 miles and entered the Officer’s Row area of Fort Vancouver. The downhill towards the Fort was a lot of fun, and at the bottom of the hill was the first water/aid station at mile 2. The next mile of the course was a flat out-and-back, where the quarter marathon had an earlier turnaround point than the half. This turnaround was very clearly marked and announced by volunteers! The path past the Fort was beautiful with fall colors on the trees. The pedestrian overpass bridge completed mile 4 and took us to the waterfront trail. Running along the water is always gorgeous, and today was no exception. The eastward mile towards the next water station and turnaround point passed quickly for me. (Again the turning point was different for quarter and half, and was very well marked and announced.) With just 1.5 miles left to the finish, I tried to push a little bit and was able to increase the pace on the last half mile. Passing under the I-5 bridge I could start to hear the finish line announcers, and soon looped around the parking lot to the finish line. Finishers’ medals were awarded by smiling firefighters, and a photographer snapped a picture of the occasion.
The post-race party of food, stretches, and massages was located inside Warehouse 23. It had a great layout, and had it been a rainy day, it would have been even more appreciated to be able to sit down in the warm and dry. The breakfast buffet consisted of yogurt with granola, eggs, sausage, potatoes, and bagels. There were several drink options (beer, mimosas, kombucha, and coffee), and plenty of space to relax with friends or meet new ones over food at the big round tables.