A day at the races: VIM recap… sorta

Far be it for me to let a race go by and not report on it! However, this time my perspective is a little different – that is, I was not a runner but a volunteer. I did not race in the Vancouver International Marathon as I’m shaking up my “usual palette” of local races: you know, you need to have some variety. ;)

The little sister, MY, and I woke up at 5:30a.m. to the sun rising and strolled to the start line at B.C. Place. We couldn’t actually see the runners break out at the gun and I thought it was odd how the finish line was place in the middle of the runners’ corral forming a bottleneck into which the racers had to squeeze. We missed out on the wonderous sight of 5,000 runners flooding forward. However, MY has attended several of my races to have seen that already. :P

Anyhow, it was a short walk to our course marshal post located on the final stretch of both the half-marathon and full-marathon courses. Our post with Chui’s was at the end of a heartbreaking hill for the half-marathoners and the beginning of the last mile for both races.

That meant the half-marathon front-runners came through 60 minutes after they started, my clinic people would come through 40 to 80 minutes later, and marathoners would start to trickle through at 9:40, due to the staggered start times of the races. The bulk of marathoners I knew wouldn’t pass by until we had been out for 4 to 5 hours after the races started.

We found that until any of the full-marathoners came by onto the shared route, we did not have a great deal to do but to cheer on people we know and I was pleased with that for I had brought some CheerStix to make some noise! Outside of the people I’ve met through the years at the Running Room and elsewhere (Matt, Ann, Don, Kelly, Ester, Kazue, Dave, Brent, Henry, Kenji, Erin., Jason, Carol, Jon., Joe, just the people I know by name!), we could read names off the personalized race bibs. I hope that more than startling some people surprised to hear their name called out by a stranger, they were uplifted by the impromptu support! :D

We were continously humoured by the nearby water station that was manned by the “Marathon Network” – some sort of support group for Japanese marathoners – for they cheerfully cried out in Japanese when one of their numerous compatriots passed by! There was also a contigent from Mexico adorned in their vibrant national colours that MY was excited to root for. (Side note: it was pleasing to see them later in the day out of the context of the race, converging at a street corner near my house, presumably to go have a celebratory dinner together!)

My job, as it turned out, was somewhat anticlimactic. When the first full-marathoners were blowing by us, the half-marathoners who shared the road dwindled down to 2:45- and slower finishers. They were walking more than running and their numbers were thinning out before our eyes. We warned them not to walk or run into the path of the police escort for the front-runner or other fast full-marathoners and that was not in great danger of happening anyhow.

I remember – back in ’06? – momentarily sharing the road with the full-marathon front runner during our final stretch. But with the staggered race starts this year that enable more consistent crowd levels at the finish line, I would have finished my race long before the first full-marathoner finished his. Thus, the bulk of the half-marathoners had come back and could mill around the finish line for the full-marathon winner to come in for the win!

TL and CM, training buddies of mine and local racers, also came out to cheer. While some disgruntled runners at the 1-mile-to-go mark may have been leery of clean and perky spectators, grumbling that we wouldn’t know the first thing about their pain, I hope our friends could appreciate it!

Overall, it was a splendid day to race, volunteer, or just come out to watch the event. :D

On this day..


  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you had a splendid day.
    It was a total pain for me right at mile 1. I’ve reverted back to my running days where I race on every practice and blow-up on every race.

    Thx for volunteering tho. W/o you volunteers the event would have been nothing.

    Fortitudine Vincimus,

  2. Michelle says:

    My sis-in-law did the half-marathon. And better weather than last year, huh?

  3. wyn says:

    Super weather. Finally the weather redeemed itself with a splendidly overcast morning – perfect for runners – that made way for a perfectly sunny afternoon. :)

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