>Racing>Vancouver BC Marathon
My husband and I are considering running the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. We are very excited about visiting Vancouver, but we were surprised at a number of negative comments on marathonguide.com from those who have recently run the race. Specifically, long waits for drop bag pickups, lack of excitement at the start, lack of spectators, shortage of gatorade at water stops later in the race, etc. It seems like a great place to stage a marathon and am wondering if anyone has recently run the race and would they recommend it.
I've run it a couple of times. I had decided twice was enough; I really didn't like the course. But last year they completely changed the course. I waited too long to register, so I can't comment on the course as a runner, but my feeling is that it is a big improvement. The start used to be downtown and now is not, so I can see that there might be less energy at the start.
I saw it from the other side last year; I volunteered. I worked an aid station, about a third of the way in, and then drop-bag retrieval. I was surprised that basically nobody at the aid station really understood what it was like to run a marathon, or what the runners would want -- that was eye opening. There was a period, in the thick of things, where we got a little behind on the Gatorade, and weren't mixing / pouring it quite fast enough to keep up with the runners. But for the most part, there was enough Gatorade. The drop-bag retrieval area could have been a lot better organized. Depending on when people finished, some did have to wait a while.
Overall, yes, I'd recommend the race. Especially if you've never been to Vancouver, it's a great excuse to visit. The only reason I would hesitate at all is that there are a lot of other great marathons that weekend as well.
I ran the new course last year (I live in Vancouver). It is an absolutely gorgeous course (net downhill), though I would advise you not to go out too fast, as all the downhill is in the first half, so there were some huge positive splits last year. As I live in town, I didn't check a bag, so I don't know how that was - from their website and facebook posts, it sounds like they are trying to address that issue, as well as having more "excitement" at the start. I was focused on a PR, so I don't really care about that sort of stuff. It is very easy to get to the start via public transit (Canada Line Skytrain) from downtown where the race finishes and where most people stay and they are including a free transit pass. The main positive about Vancouver is that the chance of very hot weather is virtually nil, unlike a lot of other spring marathons, although there may be rain. Last year it was 8C at the start and sunny and about 14C by noon. There were aid stations every mile, so no issue with that at all, there was plenty of water and gatorade when I went through. Anyway, I'm running it again this year. My avatar is me just before mile 19 coming off the Burrard Street Bridge.
One last point, it did sell out last year by March and they are expecting it to sell out earlier this year, so if you are going to run it, I wouldn't wait too long to sign up (the race is capped at 5,000 due to the use of the seawall around Stanley Park).
PRs: 47:54 (10K); 1:46:36 (HM); 3:50:52 (FM)
Recovering from injured knee (PCL/Lateral Meniscus)
Thanks for the comments! They really helped a lot. I think I may switch to the half. My husband is going to race the half and it would be fun to run with 10,000 runners. Appreciate your time!