Yesterday, I participated for the first time in the Vancouver Sun Run. I’d always thought about it, but could never realistically bring the idea to fruition until now. So far, I’ve only raced in much smaller 5km races. This was my first ever 10km race, and I picked a doozy!
I was originally going to skip this race due to the volume of racers. I thought I might find it overwhelming and wondered if I’d even be able to get a decent run in given the sheer numbers involved. But on the last night of online registration, I decided to go for it. This way, I would finally add a 10km bib to my collection, and it’s the Vancouver Sun Run!! In its 30th year to boot! I’d finally be able to say I’d ran it. And of course, this would complete my natural progression towards getting to the upcoming Whistler Half. All the pieces are coming together.
I thought I might feel a bit apprehensive, but I actually felt ready for this race. I knew that I could complete the 10km. With all the training that is currently happening for this upcoming half, I’d already logged several 10km runs so that was not a worry. I was curious about what my time might be, but I walked into the race with the realization that maybe this was not the race to be getting all worked up about my time and/or pace. I was going to treat this run as if it was just a nice, “easy” 10km so that I wouldn’t get all worked up if I literally got “stuck” in the crowd.
When I finally found my way downtown, the first thing I noticed was just how organized this race is. Kudos to all the race organizers and volunteers – they really did an amazing job! There were signs everywhere. There was absolutely no mistaking where to go. I found my “white” wave corral immediately. Entering the corral was a whole other reality. No surprise, the street was clogged with people. It was a truly organized chaos. So many other runners all packed in like sardines, and yet it was so civilized. We were all there for the same reason – to participate in the same race and just have fun. No one whined or complained, no one was rude or pushy. Runners really are a very accommodating breed.
The most challenging part was simply waiting to be “released”. We heard the elite runners go off. As I looked ahead beyond the sea of people, there was a blur of movement. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, we’d start to shuffle and everyone would get excited. Then more waiting. It was more like Ready! Set! WAIT!!!!! instead of GO!
Even though the race officially began at 9am, it was literally 10 am before my section had advanced enough to the starting area and it was finally our turn. I’d been told there’d be a lot of shuffle and stop for the first few kilometres, but that wasn’t really quite the case. I was able to start off with a nice, easy pace and never felt “stuck” enough to be forced into walking. The whole run was more of an exercise in dodging around anyone ahead of me who was either walking or perhaps running at a slower pace. It was not really possible to run a clean, “straight” path. In all my smaller 5km races to date ( a grand total of 5 of them!), there’s always been a section where everyone breaks apart and I’ve always eventually had plenty of space to just run. Not today. Other runners were everywhere. Ahead of me, beside me, behind me, around me. There was no “empty” space to be had, and yet somehow I rarely felt slowed down by the crowds.
The signage was so clear that there was no missing all the distance markers. It was very clear when we’d passed the 1km mark, followed by 2km, 3 km…. By the time we were crossing the Burrard Street Bridge, we were already at kilometre 6. Somehow there was a bit more space once we got over the first bridge, but as we approached the Cambie Street Bridge (the final stretch), it suddenly seemed crowded again. But, with the nice final descent towards the end, I was still able to put in a decent sprint to the finish.
Ta-da!! That was it! I was done!! And I even managed to finish under my estimated time. That was an unexpected bonus! The extra bonus is that the weather cooperated and we escaped the dreaded rain. I can now say I’ve done the Sun Run. Vancouver’s classic 10k. Yay!!
Will I do it again next year??? Yet to see. At this point, running with just over 45,000 other random runners is maybe one of those things that only needs to be experienced once in one’s lifetime. Whistler’s Half will feel like a breath of fresh air after this! ; )