Race Review: Scioto Bank Vancouver Half Marathon

Just over a week ago, I took a weekend trip to Vancouver for a weekend get away, which of course, involved some running. Or maybe, I just went for the race itself! I ended up covering a shift at work the Thursday before I left, which when you have a flight at dark o’clock, you completely bail on a workout the night before.

I arrived in Vancouver just before 9 AM and took the transit downtown. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and walked down to the Vancouver Convention Centre to the Expo. The expo was actually pretty small. Easy to walk in, show ID, pick up your stuff and out you go. They had Asics, a running shop and some small tables selling gels. Shirts were on the small size, but they worked. After  I left, I found some lunch and went back to the hotel to change and head out for a run. It turned out, I ran the last part of the course, which was nice. Saturday was spent doing some shopping and hanging out, for the most part.

On Sunday, I was up around 5 AM. I made the mistake of not getting a shuttle ticket from downtown to the start and by the time I realized it, it was sold out. I took the metro a few stops and picked up a bus to UBC, where the start of the race was. The bus was entirely runners and it actually made finding the start fairly easy. There were plenty of porta potties at the start, which is a plus and I was able to get through fairly quickly. We waited around quite a bit before the race started at 730 AM.

The course itself was flat with some downhills. The downhills actually helped me pick up some time to bank for later. the first 1-2 miles wasn’t much in terms of view and doubled back on itself. Afterwards, you got some pretty nice views of Vancouver. There were pacers, but I feel like I couldn’t find them. Some supporters were out there, but you saw most of them the latter half of the course. In general, I loved the course, though some of the roads needed repaved. After we crossed the bridge into downtown Vancouver, minor uphills, but nothing to complain about. I was on pace for sub 2 hrs again, but it got fairly hot pretty quick and I ran out of steam. Part of the issue was that water/gatorade was only offered every 3K (1.8 miles). I feel like some stations were further apart than others, but what can you do. Finish was in Stanley Park. Plenty of food and water, though I wish there was chocolate milk to boot. There was a station to check your time and other areas to get your gear if you checked anything at the start.

Afterwards, I walked backed to the hotel, all nearly 1.5 miles of it because there were no easy buses to take back. At least it was nice out! Overall, a great race with great views and one to do if you’re in the area

Niagara Falls Half Marathon

My first ‘International’ race per say.  This weekend (my birthday weekend to boot), I headed to Niagara Falls for their 1/2 marathon.  It’s been a good 15 yrs since I’ve been to the Falls that I can remember.  I left Friday afterwork and drove about 3.5 hours to Canada.  I love my passport card, as it’s less to worry about than my book.  It took maybe 5-10 minutes to get through customs, then I was able to pick up my packet at the expo.  Going from mph to kph in a mater of 30 seconds was a shock to the system, that’s for sure.  Not a huge fan of the expo- it was at a mall, so you had to figure out where the bibs were.  Once you picked up your bib, you had to make sure it was activated and then go to a separate location in the mall to pick up your shirt.  After you found your shirt, you had to go to a third location to get your swag bag (which included a box of pasta).  I get trying to get people to walk through vendors and stuff, but someone’s bound to miss something, especially if you’re not familiar with the layout.

I drove to the hotel and was able to check in and get somewhat settled.  I found some food (used a $10 off coupon) and headed to the Falls, which were all lit up.

IMG_0274 Saturday (my birthday!), I treated myself to sleeping in until 9 AM.  I got myself out of bed and scheduled myself for a wine tour (because who doesn’t love some wine?).  I went up the sky tower and got some good sites of the Falls from high up and close up after I came back down.  Lunch included Tim Horton’s.  Cleveland doesn’t know what it’s missing by not having Tim Horton’s, so it was a must to order.  Around 1, I went to where the wine tour departed from.  We went to 4 wineries total and I was introduced to ice wine, something the Niagara region is known for.  The last winery, we got a full tour before the tastings.  Between the 4 venues, I may or may not have ended up with more than a few bottles of wine that I won’t be sharing with anyone.  I went back to the hotel and stayed up until way after midnight thanks to OSU winning in double OT against Penn State.

Sunday I was up at 730 AM.  Race time was at 10 AM, but we had to be shuttled to the start (I have no idea where it was at).  I was in a crazy long line by 820 (I even forgot my garmin) and I was to the start shortly after 9 AM and even had time to use the bathroom.  We were huddled together in tents prior to the race start.  We had a moment of silence for 2 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives earlier this week prior to the playing of the US and Canadian national anthems.  The wheel chair athletes were off and we followed shortly there after.

The course itself is very scenic.  You have some crowd support at the start and throughout the course, but it really is a course to enjoy your surroundings.  It’s also a relatively flat course.  I was doing fairly well, holding about 2:10, but I fell back towards the end, a combination of walking the day before and having just run the Columbus Half Marathon last weekend.  You pretty much have a straight line up until after mile 11, where you have some turns.  Water stops were every 2 miles initially and then got funky towards the end.  The Marathon started in Buffalo and crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada, and they started at the same time as the half marathon did.  Throughout the course, you’d see both the half and full marathon markers.  I trucked along and was glad to finally cross the finish, right behind Niagara Falls.  As you crossed, you were given a throw away type jacket and then were given your medal.  Food and water were right behind.  I kept walking to stay loose.  Shuttles holding bags for anyone who checked were waiting, but I wasn’t a fan of checking anything this race.

In Canada, or this race at least, pacers are called bunnies.  One of the bunnies loved my yellow pants and said that I had been pacing her a while.  Woohoo!  They still beat me.  I walked back to the hotel, though I took the Niagara Falls incline up the ridiculously steep hill I had no desire to climb.  I had the million dollar shower before packing up my car and heading back to the states.

Overall a decent race.  I’d change the expo because I was freaking out I was going to miss something.  I might have worn one more long sleeved shirt, but I’m always cold.  Successful weekend for sure though!

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