It had been over 14 months since my last in-person race, but the night before jitters were as familiar as ever. Packing my bag for the Couve Clover Run in Vancouver was like dusty out the back of a closet I hadn’t seen in years. What clothes should I wear? What snacks should I take? What podcasts and songs should I download? And how early did that alarm really have to go off?
I signed up for the 8am start time for the Lucky 7-mile option for the race, which meant a 6am alarm to ensure I was over the river and parked with time to spare. As part of the first wave of runners, I was able to easily find parking a couple of blocks to the starting line arch covered with green balloons. Seeing green on almost every person around me, I realized that my packing the night before had totally forgotten the theme of this race. So, I was the only orange, black, and blue leprechaun that day.
I have participated in multiple Why Racing Events and know them to be a quality organization that would keep all runners, walkers, and volunteers safe. And every step of the race proved that expectation right. Before getting to the starting line, all participants had to sign in and then go through a health check-in, which included temperature check and reviewing five questions about recent illnesses. Then we were directed to orange cones near the starting line, each one six feet from the others in every direction. All participants had signed up for one of the start waves that were spaced 10 minutes apart. And then within each wave, eight runners began a minute. While we waited our turn, the announcer had lots of fun letting out 12 months of pent-up jokes and shout outs.
The race course was an out and back with 3, 7, and 10-mile options. The 10-mile participants had a farther turnaround point plus a loop to get in the necessary miles. The course used various sidewalks through an industrial area, near the waterfront, through some restaurant parking lots, and through a beautiful park I would love to visit some time when I am not literally running through. After the turnaround, I was grateful for the water station volunteers and the ease to get a cup of water and toss it into a park garbage can farther along.
Throughout the race was passed many times by runners who had started in later waves but had faster paces than me. As we learn more about this new normal for in-person races, waves might need a little more guidance to help those track stars have plenty of room. The sidewalks were all wide enough to pass by with a few feet of margin and I never worried about getting in someone’s way. I also took advantage of bike lanes on quiet streets when I was heading toward the finish line and others were starting out.
Due to safety measures, there wasn’t the amazing after part that Why Racing is known for. Instead, we were handed a swag bag by a masked volunteer, then offered a loaf of bread by another volunteer, and then given an imprinted glass by another volunteer. It was good I was headed to my car right away because I had lots of treasures to juggle. Though I did make one quick stop at a photo backdrop first. I had to get in that celebration selfie with my new shamrock shaped medal.
My timed results were available online by the time I was home, and I was more than ready to bust into that blueberry loaf from Franz. All in all, it was a great way to get back into the in-person racing experience.