Named a Top 10 Destination Marathon by Forbes.com and one of the world’s most “exotic” marathons by CNN Travel, the BMO Vancouver Marathon is a Boston Qualifier that takes runners on a 42.2 kilometre (26.2 miles) adventure past beaches, through natural parks, and along Vancouver’s bustling Seawall.
I ran the 2016 BMO Half, and can’t say enough wonderful things about the course. It’s got a little bit of everything for everyone, and is a fast and comfortable run for competitors. The halfers started in a park situated above the city, where there were tons of volunteers managing the fast and easy gear check, handing out water, manning a fully operational medical tent, and organizing the very “green” trash/recycle centers. The weather was comfortable and cool, and the corrals were organized and FULL. Us turtles had plenty of running company! The race started with the gift of warming up your legs on a gentle downhill that led you from Queen Elizabeth Park, through the still-sleeping hip suburban streets, across a big bridge, and into the heart of the city. The views were amazing. There was a journey through the different city districts, and then you were out towards the waterfront after a GORGEOUS stretch through Stanley Park — part of which included a path that gave you a complete view of the very beautiful city. All along the route there were cheerful volunteers, and enough musicians to show PDX a thing or two about on-course entertainment (and one unexpected entertainer who went to Stanley to do some opera vocal exercises and ended up serenading a crowd of runners.) The day was predicted to be hot, so people were hitting the water stations pretty hard — the first one had trouble keeping up with filling cups, but they sure were trying. One of the later stations had Clif gel, and each station had a palatable variety of Ultima. The finish line was lined on either side by screaming crowds — I felt sorry for the marathon leaders, as they got crunched in with a herd of 8k and half runners, but there was an attempt by the organizers to make sure people got out of the way. The post-race area was a little bit of a hot mess (and it was getting hotter by the minute) as there was no established reunion area, despite having one marked on the map that was posted. I had to wait around 40 minutes for my family to find my sore old body, slowly roasting in the sun, because Canada rendered our cellphones useless and we were planning on meeting in the marked reunion spot which turned out to not exist. One other quibble — the race organizers made a great big deal out of using public transportation, offered dire warnings about getting to the start and the finish, and promised a free race day transit pass and helpful transit employees. The pass turned out to be a one-way pass, and the transit reps were unable to answer questions about the best routes or which stations would be shut down. In the end, I was able to get dropped off a the start line by choosing to get there an hour early, and my family was able to park in a parking garage which was RIDICULOUSLY close to the finish, and had plenty of empty spots by the time the marathoners started coming in.
- Awesome review!
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- Richard Brittin reviewed 2 years ago
- last edited 2 years ago
This was my second marathon. Very well organized event. Didn’t plan to, but latched on to the 3:15 pace bunny, who was awesome. Full disclosure: I was a few minutes behind him at the finish! Wonderful volunteers who were really appreciated on a hot day handing out water and UL sports drink at the plentiful aid stations. Gear check was fantastic. Picked up stuff right near the finish. I’m not a veteran of marathoning, but I hope they all are run this well. Course has about 300 m of gain/descent based on my Garmin GPS watch.
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