The Vancouver Sun Run takes place every April. It’s a fun 10km event organized by the Vancouver Sun newspaper and open to people of different fitness levels and physical abilities. The run (or walk) takes place in downtown Vancouver on a Sunday morning. The route is closed to vehicular traffic and offers water stations, portable washrooms, first aid (as well as medical treatment if necessary), and musical performances. I often run or walk in the event and always enjoy it.
Some people treat the run as a serious event and want to get a good finish time. For many others, participating in the Sun Run is an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning with friends. A celebration takes place at BC Place (a multi-purpose stadium) after the run.
The Sun Run is Canada’s largest 10K event. This year’s run/walk will take place on April 14th. The registration fee gives participants a t-shirt as well as a race number. Registration and race package pickup instructions are available on the Vancouver Sun website under the Sun Run link.
Participating in the Event
Although the Vancouver Sun Run is referred to as a “run”, people participate in various ways. They run or walk fast or slowly, alternate running and walking, or participate as wheelchair athletes. A wave start arranged by predicted finish time enables people to be surrounded by those with similar goals for the event or similar fitness levels. Though the start area is crowded, as can be seen above, the crowd generally spreads out as the run begins.
Unfortunately, some people don’t sign up for the correct wave. Around 45,000 people participate in the event. Sometimes a runner or a fast walker finds that they have to repeatedly zig zag to pass slower participants. There’s nothing wrong with being slow, of course. The race organizers ask slower people to move to the right to allow faster people to pass them, however, which some people don’t do. The event can definitely be fun, but except for the people in the fastest waves, it may not be the best place to get a personal best time.
We travel along main roads during the run. The route goes through the downtown area to Stanley Park and then through part of the park. After leaving the park, it goes towards and over the Burrard Street Bridge. This is the scenic section of the route.
After we travel over the Burrard Street Bridge, the surroundings are not as scenic as in the first part of the journey. This is unfortunate because by this stage I’m often starting to get tired. Distractions would be welcome. I notice on the map of this year’s event that there are multiple music performers along this stretch of the route (as well as other performers in the previous section), which should be very helpful in providing motivation. Large distance markers erected or held along the route are also encouraging.
The last major effort required in the run is to climb up to the Cambie Street Bridge. From here, it’s not far to the finish line and the fun at BC Place. A timing tag is built into our race number. Our start and finish times are recorded as we walk or run over the timing mat at the beginning and end of the course.
The BC Place Celebration
For many people, the first thing to do in BC Place is to use a washroom, especially if they haven’t visited a portable one on the course. Going down the stairs to the floor of the stadium enables runners and walkers to pick up free snacks and drinks. Bagels, bananas, oranges, and water always seem to be available. Other snacks depend on what companies are present to distribute samples of their products. Yogurt, energy bars, milk boxes, and/or fruit juice are sometimes available.
Music performers are also present in the stadium. Some people dance to the music. Prizes are awarded to the winning runners in each division of the race, although I never get to the stadium in time to see the awards ceremony.
A “Walker’s Pit Stop” is available on the course specifically for people participating in the walkers division. This enables them to get free snacks even if they arrive at the stadium quite late. Over a third of the participants in the run are actually walkers.
The Vancouver Sun website says that the 2018 run “achieved 98.2% waste diversion.” This is great news because a huge amount of potential waste is created during the Sun Run. This includes masses of paper cups on the course as well as banana and orange peel, food packaging, and drink containers in the stadium. Recycling stations are available on the route, in the finish area, and in the stadium.
One nice idea related to recycling is that some people (generally the faster runners) leave their warm-up gear on one of the temporary fences at or near the start line. Sometimes clothing is dropped at other places during the run. The gear is collected by the Salvation Army and distributed to those who need it. Some of us can’t afford to lose clothing like this, but for those who can, it’s a great opportunity to help others.
Most people would need to train for the Sun Run. There may be some exceptions, such as a walker who regularly goes for 10 km (6.2 mile) walks and doesn’t intend to be competitive during the event. Anyone who hopes to push themselves to reach a certain goal needs to train, not only to increase their chance of reaching the goal but also for safety reasons. This applies to any major fitness event and not just the Sun Run. Training in order to meet a goal is a great way to increase fitness.
If you’re very out of shape or have a health problem, it’s important to seek a doctor’s advice about fitness activities and to start a training period with gentle exercise.
After the Event
The results of the run are published in the next edition of the Vancouver Sun newspaper based on the results obtained via the timing mats. Once the event is finished, it would be a shame to lose any newly developed fitness. More runs and walks are offered in my area to keep the momentum going.
Several runs and walks are advertised at the Sun Run Fair, an event held on the Friday and Saturday immediately before the run. This is where we pick up our race packages. Vendors sell items related to running and food or drink samples are often available. Although I rarely buy anything at the fair, it’s a nice event that signals the start of the very enjoyable Sun Run weekend.