category : ‘Race Reports/Favorite Races’


Finishing Fall Classic Half Marthon

Finishing Fall Classic Half Marthon

You would think that someone who has run more than 250 races, probably closer to 300 if you count individual relay legs as races in their own right; someone who has logged a minimum of 40,000km over the years and been involved in everything from fun runs to the New York City Marathon, would find it hard to claim too many things that are ‘new’.

OK, you got me. Of course, every new race I run is new. But, I’m talking about truly new or different running experiences. For instance, I realized a couple of years ago that I had never done an ultra. So, I found me a 50K and added ‘ultra’ to my running resume. I could go on, but you have the idea.

The other interesting thing is that for at least a dozen years I have been a leader for one sort of running clinic or another, most notably the Sun Run InTraining program and Forerunners Full and Half Marathon Clinics. Now you would think that someone with all that experience in leading pace groups would have, at some point in time, actually paced for a race. You would be wrong.

Half Marathon, 10K and 5K

So, when an opportunity arose to pace the 2:30 half marathon group at the Fall Classic Half Marathon, I decided it was high time to add that to the old running resume. Hey, it might be a whole new career! I am actually quite excited about this, and just a little humbled.  More on this later. I should mention right here, if this rang some kind of ‘bell’ for you, the reader, there are a number of opportunities still available for pacing in the 5K and 10K events. You can find the link right HERE.

I suppose I don’t have to explain why I find this an exciting prospect. I’ve mostly explained it already. The one thing I didn’t mention as yet, is that I will be assisting others to achieve a personal goal, and that is also what makes it humbling and just a little scary. The humbling part comes from knowing you have the dreams and goals of others in your hands, or perhaps more accurately, feet. I’m not worried about running the time. I’m not worried about the course since I’ve run this race before. At Forerunners I lead a group that has a goal time a bit faster than 2:30. What does worry me is holding a steady pace, AT the necessary Minutes per K. I can’t just kick onto auto-pilot and go. No, it will require running slower than my own normal race pace, but then that is what pacers are supposed to do. No race wants a pacer who is pushing to run the advertised pace. And, the runners who will be following me never said they want to go faster. THEY want to hit around 2:30.  MY job is to nail 2:30 plus or minus a small amount and let each individual do what they can on the day.

Some will have a great day and realize they can do something quicker than 2:30. Yay for them. My job is not to pace them to a faster time. If someone has ‘got it’ on the day, I’ll cheer them on and wish them well. At the same time, if someone is having a less than stellar day and can’t keep with me, my job is NOT to slow down and help them along (something you might do in a clinic – ‘no runner left behind’ and that sort of thing). No, my job is to run as close as I can to 2:30 and let the chips fall as they may, or in this particular case, perhaps the Fall leaves. It is the Fall Classic, doncha know.

Finish Set-Up CIM 2008

Finish Set-Up CIM 2008

At least I haven’t got the awesome responsibility of trying to pace runners to a BQ time. I have used pacers several times for that purpose, unsuccessfully I must admit. But, it was truly amazing to be able to rely on those individuals to help me through. I’m sure I still had better times than I would have without the pacers, even if the BQ was not to be mine. Just a shout out to what a really good pacer can do: at the California International Marathon my particular pacer had a policy of making sure everyone running with her would finish in front of her, but the first time her finish was 14 seconds under the goal time and the second, it was 4 seconds. That was a full marathon. THAT was pacing! Too bad I couldn’t keep up either time. Even still, each race was a recent PB for me.

Back to the challenge of actually holding a specific pace that is not natural. We all have some kind of natural pace that is just super comfortable. Of course, if you are racing, there is generally nothing comfortable about your pace. But, if you are just running,  you will generally just fall into whatever your own natural pace may be. If I do that on November 13, everyone is going to be hooped. I went out for a short-ish practice session a couple of days ago and even while concentrating on trying to hold the necessary pace for a 2:30 Half, I found myself sometimes quite a bit too quick and on average over the whole distance, something around 15 seconds per kilometre too fast. Fifteen seconds doesn’t sound like all that much, but multiply by 21.1 and whoa! it is over five (5) minutes. Where I live I must run on streets and have to stop sometimes at traffic lights, so it is a bit choppy and harder to get into a rhythm. For a first shot, I was happy enough and know I will have the pace internalized by November 13!

At the same time, one of my big advisories to my clinic people is that when racing you will have greatest success if you run to a constant effort, more than to a constant pace. In other words, if your goal pace feels a certain way on the flat, then you should try to hold that ‘feeling’ when you go up a hill. You will slow a little, but you conserve energy. Same deal going down. Try to hold that feeling of exertion. You will go faster, but not ‘that’ fast and you will score some recovery. Over the greater distance, it will kind of even out and you WILL have what looks like a constant pace. Of course, this depends on approximately equal amounts of ups and downs, but that will work for the Fall Classic as it amounts to two loops of the same route. All of this is to say I am not going to have a melt-down if my instantaneous times are a bit fast or slow relative to the bang on theoretical 2:30 pace. I guess I’m just going to have to try to be a running “Goldi-Locks” and make it ‘juuuuuuust right’.

Gratuitous photo of me with daughter, Janna after Fall Classic (2008)

Gratuitous photo of me with daughter, Janna after Fall Classic (2008)

The Fall Classic has been a Vancouver fixture for a lot of years. It bills itself as the last major race of the season. That seems to me to be a fair claim. The Half Marathon attracts about 700 or so, but when you add in the 10K and 5K events, the total swells to around 1800. I have to admit that I have not run either of the shorter races, but all routes follow much the same course. Naturally, since the event(s) start and finish in the heart of the Academic Campus, a lot of the 5K is run on the streets of the University of British Columbia. The 10K and the Half head out along Marine Drive and dip down along the Old Marine Drive for a couple of kilometres of forested wonder. The last time I ran the route, there was a bit of fog on the nearby sea and just enough filtering through the trees to make the run rather mystical! It actually sent a bit of a shiver down my spine. Well, or maybe that was because it was a bit cool and I may have under dressed. (Just a bit of running humour there.) Some of my most amazing races have involved such misty conditions – especially a couple of very early morning legs I’ve run at Hood to Coast. Whatever the conditions on the day, the Fall Classic will deliver a great running experience. There’s a bunch of great features and benefits provided by the SPONSORS, but that is on the web site. Go have a look for yourself.

I’m going to be running the Half Marathon, but if you are interested in running one of the other distances (5K or 10K), do note that the individual events start at different times.


Being inspired at Reggae Marathon!

Being inspired at Reggae Marathon!

It is that time of year when I REALLY start thinking about the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. As a matter of fact, it is just eight (8) weeks today until I board the flight that will take me again to Negril, JA for this event.

The title today is a not so funny pun or play on words. I cannot hold back on saying SOMETHING about the situation in my favourite island nation. A Category 4 hurricane is threatening Jamaica, at least the East end of Jamaica and probably parts of Haiti. “Matthew” is not going to be the first hurricane to whack Jamaica with big winds and water, no, not be a long shot.  That said, considering where it sits, Jamaica has done rather better than you might suppose it would. A lot of the big storms seem to slide by without a direct hit. Not all of them though, and apparently not Matthew.

Today, or at least this evening, is to be the day. As I write, the track for the eye of the storm seems to be through the open water to the East of Jamaica and to the West of Haiti. That doesn’t mean that either country is going to escape untouched. Only time will tell us for sure what happens. Jamaican communication services are warning people about winds, rain and storm surges along the coast. I check every hour or two.

Clearly, there is nothing one can do from here but hope and pray. I know quite a few who live in Jamaica as well as a whole lot more who are from Jamaica and have family there. All are being held in my thoughts today.

Negril 1969 - Judi and Dan

Negril 1969 – Judi and Dan

I actually have family history in the Eastern end of Jamaica, but since they left around 1844 or so, it only creates a point of interest. The first time my wife and I visited Jamaica in 1969 we lived for three weeks in St. Mary Parish (which is being predicted to experience significant impact from Matthew). Little did I know that the site of my Great-Great Grandparents’ habitation in Jamaica was almost within walking distance of where we were staying in a village called Highgate. After learning about the family history, we made an intentional visit to the area in 2010, the year I did my first Reggae Marathon (event). All this is just to say that I have a real perspective on the area.

All those islands have experience with the hurricane. The people know what they have to do. But, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous or devastating.

At the same time, the place I spend most of my time while in Jamaica, Negril, is likely to be totally spared. Oh, there may be some rain and wind, but the whole region knows the sudden tropical storm. It is part of life.

Rondel Restaurant - Copy

Rondel restaurant, right by the beach – breakfast, soon come!

This year I am taking a friend of over 50 years to experience what the Reggae Marathon is about and to learn more about Jamaica and at least a few of its people. The 10 days or so that we will spend on the ground in Jamaica isn’t enough for more than a ‘taste’, but hopefully he will come to understand my love of and fascination for Jamaica and her people. The country has its problems. Still, it has a pace and flow that calms me. I refer to it as my ‘happy place’. The cares of the year just past, fade rapidly in the sun, sea and sand.  Please, don’t get the idea that this is some kind of all inclusive vacation resort experience that you could have anywhere tropical. Far from it. For the last five years I have chosen to stay at a smaller local resort, Rondel Village. It does everything I need, so I haven’t really looked farther afield, but I know there are many similar places. Oh yes, there are the five star all inclusives if that is what you want, but it isn’t what I want or need. I know I’m playing a dangerous game in inviting my buddy to join me. No two people experience the same thing the same way. Still, I hope he will come to understand why I love it so much. I know he has a point of perspective, because he feels much the same about boats.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin' Guy second from the right.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin’ Guy second from the right.

I am looking forward to renewing our Four Amigo friendships. Again, Larry Savitch, Navin Sadarangani and the ‘magnet’ that brought us all together, Chris Morales (That Runnin’ Guy), will be running some event as part of the Reggae Marathon experience. For various reasons, I may be the only one of the four who is running more than the 10K. Chris loves the 10K and except for that time he actually ran the Marathon, that is his distance. Of course, Chris is the official blogger for the Reggae Marathon, so he has work to do. Work he couldn’t do if he was out running and running and running that marathon. The other two are working back from injury and training for other events so have decided the 10K will be good. I like half marathons and presently think I will run that distance, but even that is not quite nailed down. I may yet opt for the 10K. (I am concerned about letting the part get going without me!) Whatever, the accompanying photo will be updated for 2016. Except for Chris, we will all be showing six fingers for the number of Reggae Marathon races we’ve done. Chris will be holding up eight! In total, we account for 26 RM races from 10K to marathon. This (I think) will be the first time Navin has NOT done the full marathon. And, (I think) the first time Larry has not done the Half. Whatever, we will be doing our Challenge again. Naturally, we will invite anyone else in the extended group to join us in that. It is all for fun even if you couldn’t tell from the trash talking that should fire up almost anytime now.

Dawn breaking over Negril and the Reggae Marathon course.

Dawn breaking over Negril and the Reggae Marathon course.

I’m already thinking of the early morning start, the brightening sky, dawn, birds awakening. Oh, yes, and the blasting reggae music all along the course, with locals and tourists (who will NOT be sleeping, even if they aren’t running) out there cheering us on. Even though I am not 100% decided, I will probably run the Half and therefore I am thinking of Bob’s Mile and the signs bearing “Bob’s wisdom” (mostly lyrics from his most moving songs). When you hit Bob’s Mile, you know you are almost done. I believe you can actually feel the mood shift as runners sense the nearness of the finish.


Sweet, Sweet Reggae Music

Sweet, Sweet Reggae Music

Post Race Party Reggae Marathon  2013

Post Race Party Reggae Marathon 2013

When the race is done, the finish is far more than just the FINISH. It is a celebration.  Even if the Four Amigos can count up 26 individual races among us, there are a lot of people there for the first time and a lot who have made this their first race or first half or even first marathon. Of course the music and general vibe is an immense part of the atmosphere, but it is a people thing. I don’t think I’ve ever been at any other race with quite the same feel. For sure, there are lots of races (especially marathons) where the sense of achievement is thick in the air at the finish, but not the same feeling of “I did it and I’m glad I’m here and I just don’t want to leave!”

Of course, you do have to leave, but you can come back. That is precisely what I’ll be doing in just 56 days.

2014 Start Line. Just before it all got going!

2014 Start Line. Just before it all got going!

While I know the events of today and the days to come will test the resolve and resilience of Jamaica and her citizens, I know they will be up to the test and that the Reggae runners will be welcomed once again.  Hey, there is going to be damage and they are going to need support. Tourism is a very big thing in Jamaica. Know what? There is still time to sign up and find your way to Negril and flow some of those tourist bucks into their economy. Think about it. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.



As I have moaned a bit this last year, life keeps getting in the way of my running (and writing about it). Usually, I’d have had this written at least a day or so ago. Usually, I would have written a pre-race blog too. But, it is what it is.

Bob's Border Busters (1987)

Bob’s Border Busters (1987)

August 26/27 marked my NINTH time doing the Hood to Coast Relay. It would have been more than that, but I have tried unsuccessfully (collectively with teams) at least three and maybe four other times. I have been doing this on and off since 1987 (Bob’s Border Busters). At the time I did not personally realize that we were involved in just the fifth running of the event. It was surely a different event in those days, for so many reasons. For one thing, after hitting Portland, the route to the Coast was different and the finish location was completely different. The distance was also shorter (not much). The number of teams was in the 500 odd range at the time and although it has always been tightly organized (in a good way) the feel was far more relaxed.

A lot of the roads taken were not the major routes they are today. Same roads, but far less busy and far more rural. Because the whole thing was smaller, the restrictions on vehicles was less. I recall one team with a school bus. They had a massage table they would haul out at exchanges and give the incoming runner a quick going over before moving on. I think (not sure about that) the massage person was just that, not a runner, but rather team support! Both of the first times I went, the system was what I call ‘odds and evens’. Two vans, but instead of first six legs and second six, we did a leap-frog with the odd runners in one and evens in the other and a system of dropping off and picking up. That gave more time to stretch out the legs after running. It also meant there was never a major exchange point. Of course, in a sense, it also meant every exchange was a major exchange. Well, I guess the real thing was just fewer teams, especially after Portland when the walkers and high schoolers now join in.

Ready to Start Hood to Coast - 1989

Ready to Start Hood to Coast – 1989

The second time I ran Hood to Coast was 1989. It has so many personal memories for me, including being the fastest I have ever run over a significant distance. That was Leg #1, which apart from the quality and nature of the road, oh and that we started at 10:30pm in the pitch-black dark, with handheld flashlights, was almost the same. It ended right at the bottom of the hill though and was 5.5 miles. I averaged

H2C Start Line 2006

H2C Start Line 2006

5:59 per mile but it felt like 4:00/mile running in the dark with no distance perspective. As is always the case at the start, unless you are counting noses and watching over your shoulder, it is hard to know how you did relative to the other teams (especially in the dark). I learned from my team, after finishing, that I had come down the mountain in fourth place in our starting group. We had a pretty decent team. I turned out to be third SLOWEST on the team. Our team average pace was 6:50/mile!  Ah, those were the days. Now, my role on Leg #1 (and all the others) is to offer myself as ‘road kill’ for other runners!  But, back to the glory of that race in the summer of ’89. Shaughnessy’s Cove (as we were called) finished 20/208 in Men’s Open and 64/684 (starters).

Due to a few things like living in Europe for three years then half way across the country for a bunch more and actually not doing much racing (running, yes – racing, not so much), oh and that two years in Malaysia, it was not until 2006 I had another chance to do Hood to Coast. That time was more good luck than good management. A team of loosely affiliated runners, including some from my running club (Pacific Road Runners) was coming together to do the Relay. We had people from BC, Washington, Oregon and Montana. Naturally, because of all those international, state and provincial boundaries we called ourselves Bordering on Insanity. Well, that explains the ‘Bordering’ part. The rest doesn’t need much explanation.

Hood to Coast Relay

The traditional team on the rocks photo (2010)

In case you are starting to worry, I am NOT going to recount each of the six other races I’ve done. Each was worthy of a good story or two, but I may just resort to a selection of photographs. I had the fun of having our daughter Janna run on one of the teams (when she was a member of Pacific Road Runners). We went as PRR -Cha, Cha, Cha in honour of a club member who used to be ‘the organizer’ of such teams, and who had died quite suddenly and quite young. As I recall, my years of getting a team in were: 1987, 1989, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010,  2012, 2013 and 2016. Most of them, I managed to do Leg #1, but I’ve also done Leg #3, Leg #2 and Leg #12. I was captain or co-captain for the bulk of the teams because one of my great pleasures is the organizational side. Besides, as I get slower and slower, it is my ticket to actually being ON a team!

The less traditional team in a parking lot photo (2016)

The less traditional team in a parking lot photo (2016)

Fast forwarding to Hood to Coast 2016, Canucks to the Coast had a great experience and many individual members found out some stuff about themselves they maybe didn’t know. As individuals, we had a bunch of links to each other, but the most common (7/12) was involvement with Forerunners where we participate in the half and full marathon clinics. Even though it is a fun event for most people, nobody has ever said it was easy. Each year brings its challenges and 2016 offered up some of the hottest weather I think the Relay has seen with bright sunshine and temperatures into the high NINETIES! Thankfully, overnight and as we approached Seaside, everything cooled down and Saturday running was pretty ideal. It is not that common to run three hard races, because that is what each leg amounts to, in such a short period of time. That is a major challenge that most runners not familiar with the race format, have not faced. Getting out for the third leg is hard to compare to anything else. I suppose Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics might disagree (especially those that do races back to back or more), but the short distances at Hood to Coast tempt you to run pretty hard. Then, there is the whole run, sit repeat thing that stiffens your legs so by leg three it is always a mental hurdle to get out there again. But, everybody does it and I know from observation of a lot of team members over all those years, that this is one of the big achievements for most.

There are 195 RK marks there if you care to count!

There are 195 RK marks there if you care to count!

I mentioned earlier that while I used to get my share of ‘road kills’, I now represent a fairly sure thing for most other runners. I guess I can feel comfort in knowing I have brightened a few lives! Of course, I do cling to the idea that when you are doing the actual first leg, your RK opportunities are limited. For the most part you are limited to those teams that start in the same wave.  Even if you were first to Government Camp, the most you could pass would be about 20. Some on our team passed over 30 in a single leg. I did get two ‘kills’ on Leg #1. I know because I physically passed them. There may have been a couple more behind me from the start, but not more than one or two. On Leg #13, I caught just one and was close to a second. Interestingly, I didn’t get passed by all that many as I think about it. Must have been in one of those natural gaps that form from time to time. Leg #25 provided me three more, so I totalled six; enough to feel I was not a complete anchor for the team!

For those who haven’t done Hood to Coast or another relay, I guess a moment is warranted to say the ‘road kill’ idea is not as awful as it sounds. It is done with good humour and is not really taken seriously. The main rule is that you get to count anyone you pass. If you are having a see-saw battle with someone, you only count once. Best of all, it is not a ‘net’ count. Nobody subtracts the number of times they got passed from the passes they made. I won’t say there isn’t a little competitiveness between team vans though! For instance, the driver of our Van #2 was pretty sure their 120 (“maybe even 130″) RK count was exceptional. That was until I pointed out that Van #1 had 195. I must admit that I might have let him go on for a bit before revealing our count. It seemed like the thing to do at the time.

Checking the results!

Checking the results!

A few years back we had a road kill situation that was pretty humorous. Unfortunately, one of our members arrived at Mount Hood with a full on case of pneumonia. I had been clever (and lucky) enough to recruit drivers that year, including one who was a good runner and ready to sub in at the last minute should there be a need. Well, there was a need, for sure. We did it all legal like, but of course our start time had been long settled on the projected time of the original team. The new guy was a really good runner and the sick chap was not (as good). The whole team was pretty exceptional other than yours truly. Road Kills were pushing up into the 6-700 range for the two vans together and there was a lot of internal competition. Anyway, our final runner, who was the aforementioned sub hit the beach snorting and snarling that he had been cheated or something because try as he might, he had not found a single RK. We had to point out that there was a reason. We were the third team on the beach that day. There wasn’t anybody to be passed! We thought we might just have been fast enough to have won an award, but it turned out we had just missed. Made for a fun afternoon as we drank beer and watched the results.

Starting H2C 2010

Starting H2C 2010

We had a rather early start time in 2016. It created a bit of personal stress as it meant less time to get organized and up to the start. We had plenty of time and what not, but van decorating is part of the fun and something we’d always done before heading for the mountain. I can never fully relax until that first runner has the bib on and slap band in place. Usually, the first runner is me and I tend to fully relax about the time the teams are being called to the start and introduced. From that point, it is what it is. Let the games begin!

We had our share of stories, but most of them are of the ‘inside baseball’ variety, so best saved for a team after-party. There are often celebrities and this year one of the big names was comedian Kevin Hart. Everyone was asking ‘have you seen him?’ and hoping for a sighting or to run a leg with him. Personally, my big thrill was at the Leg 29/30 exchange. We were manoeuvering the van when I looked over at the row of Honey-Buckets and saw this guy come out who was the spitting image of Ashton Eaton. Then I saw a volunteer shake his hand and congratulate him. I rolled down the window as we got near the volunteer. I asked, “Is that who I think it is?” Yes it is, was the answer. I saw him again shortly after (I was still jockeying the van) and almost rolled down the window to ask if he’d brought ‘the wife’ along. Of course, I’m Canadian, so I didn’t. Had I read some of the publicity stuff I guess I would have known that Eaton (Olympic Gold Medal – Decathlon) and Brianne Thiesen-Eaton (Olympic Bronze Medal – Heptathlon) were both running. You would have thought that little adventure a couple of weeks back in Rio would have been enough to hold them for a little while!

My social media reporting of the adventure seemed to have impressed That Runnin’ Guy, Chris Morales, my good friend of Reggae Marathon fame. He did a whole blog post on our adventure. I think he is bucking to join the next team!


Carbing in Kelso. Canucks to the Coast 2013.

I count less, how well my teams finish, even though that is the easiest thing to keep track of, than I count how well we do together. By that I mean how the people get along and whether or not it is an overall good experience. No team ever makes it through without some tension or stress, but how everyone handles it is the big thing. If you can’t manage the pressure of the dynamic of this event, you will not come away saying it was a great experience. I really want to say to all the members of Canucks to the Coast 2016, this may have been the best of my nine Hood to Coast teams. Well done all!

Oh, and because it is the easiest thing to keep track of, at last reporting Canucks to the Coast finished 442/1050 and 26/107 in Mixed Sub-Masters. Had the driver (that would be me, at the time) not got a little lost on the way to the 24/25 Exchange we would have been about 30 minutes faster and a few notches up both results charts. Sorry guys! No prizes for us either way, but a good solid showing.

As I was running my last leg and my personal legs were shouting obscenities at my brain, I was wondering if, at the age of 71 it was time to make this my last Hood to Coast. I mean, if you can’t crush the Leg #1 combo, what else is there? Today my legs are feeling pretty good and I may even try a run in a little while. And, what the hey, I did have SIX road kills!  And, who quits at NINE when TEN is just one more away? Oh what the heck, anybody want to run H2C 2017????


  Sandcastle City Classic 5K

Sandcastle City Classic 5K

This might be a form of ‘true confessions’. Stay tuned for the juicy stuff!

Giant's Head 5.4K

Giant’s Head 5.4K

The two races are both 5K’ish and on the same weekend and about 400km apart. One happens Saturday at 6:00pm and the other, Sunday at 8:30am. Can’t do both. That is the true confession. I’m on the organizing committee for the Sandcastle City Classic 5K, being held in White Rock on June 5th. As I’ve already shared here, while the Sandcastle race isn’t new, the 5K distance is and should make this a great event from so many different perspectives. But! I won’t be running it myself and won’t even be there. Full disclosure to all the running friends I’ve been promoting to go give this new distance a try.

No, I will be in Summerland, up there in the Okanagan, where we lived for so many years and where I started running. I will be running the Giant’s Head 5.4K on Saturday night, June 4th, with my grandson Charlie. The Giants Head Run (GHR for short) is the race that is 5K’ish in length. I actually don’t know the story of how it got to be 5.4K. While memories are a bit hazy, I think it may have been the very first race I ran as an adult runner (I ran in school). There was a 5K and a 10K, but nobody had Garmins or other gps devices and likely someone drove the route with a car and determined it was about a 5K. By my hazy recollection, I don’t think the route has changed. It has always been more about the fun than serious competition, so who really cares, right? I guess in later years they realized it was actually 5.4K, measured it and made the distance clear. It actually isn’t an easy course, so adding a 400m bonus would tend to leave someone like me wondering how you could be so slow! Well, now we know, and I also know that I, for one, feel better for it.

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

The main reason there is no question in my mind that Summerland and the GHR is where I need to be is that family running has always been important to me. More on that in a minute. BUT, for all you Lower Mainland folks, I highly recommend the ALL NEW SANDCASTLE CITY CLASSIC 5K. I did use the Lower Mainland designation because the Sandcastle 5K is a part of the Lower Mainland Road Race Series (LMRRS) and is Race #6. This is a popular series and we are confident that the move from the long-standing Sandcastle Classic 10K format is going to make this race one of the more popular ‘fixtures’ in the schedule. The course is right along the beach-front and if the weather cooperates, the ‘out’ leg should provide some amazing views of Mount Baker and the water.

Mount Baker over White Rock Beach

Mount Baker over White Rock Beach

You will be running right past the great restaurants on the Marine Drive strip and even though the Semiahmoo Sunrunners and Walkers will be putting on a great post-race spread, you may want to hang around for your own brunch/lunch sampling of those restaurants, or just to explore the promenade and the beach itself. As long as you leave before noon (or at least pay up) the parking will be free near the race start/finish at the far end of West Beach. As long as the weather is dry, you are even going to have live music (apparently, the band isn’t thrilled to be hooked up to amps and things when it is raining). Come on out and enjoy the fun. At 5K, it also fits as a fun/family race and if you keep a brisk walking pace you can probably finish before the permitted race time. So, competitive runners can bring along the younger ones or walkers who can also join in the fun. All of which makes a nice lead for the following.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Now then, what is this family running thing? Well, as noted, I started running while we lived in Summerland. It is how/where I met Steve King. We ran in the same club in those days and were on some relay teams together. That was the time when both our daughters began running and we did a few of those local races together. For a brief while, wife Judi ran a few races too, although later she has taken to really long distance walking like the Camino, and from time to time up to a half marathon when the events allow enough time for power walkers to complete the race. While our son was a bit young for running the main races, he did start with events like “Man of Steel” in Summerland (kids triathlon), a part of the same Summerland Action Festival that offers the Giant’s Head Runs.

Half Dad's Age Half Marathon Challenge

Half Dad’s Age Half Marathon Challenge L-R: Danielle, Dan, Janna, Cam

By accident, I ran the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon with our oldest, Danielle. The accident part was that it was her birthday, which drew my attention to the fact that I had run a half marathon with her when she was half my age. I was 56 and she was 28. From then on I was on a mission to run a half with each kid when she/he was half my age. It took another 10 years to complete our project, when I was 66 and our third child and first-born son was 33. That was pretty tough for him. Although we did run some races together during our sojourn in Brussels, Belgium, Cam has only run shorter races and never really caught the racing bug like his sisters. He was very brave to prepare for and make it through that half marathon with me!

Danielle and Janna and I have run a whole bunch of races together, particularly the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon races, Vancouver Marathon races and then a few odd ones like Ottawa (Danielle) and a race in Manitoba (Janna) a couple of years back. Although a wee bit less frequent, I’ve also run in events with both of our sons-in-law. So, you can surely see how this family runs together.

Last year, it was a total thrill for me to be able to run my first race with Danielle’s (and Greg’s) son, and our grandson, Charlie. I wrote about it, and if you want to recall what it was all about, you can just check it out HERE. Now, we are about to run our ‘second annual’ GHR. I think I am only slightly less excited than I was the first time! As much as anything, it is that Charlie actually wants to run with ME! He will be 10 in July.

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

Here is another true confession. I want to run with him this one more time when the old guy is still likely to be more or less evenly matched! Last year, I paced myself to run with Charlie. This year, I’m thinking we may be fairly even with nobody adjusting to the other guy. By next year, if we run together, I’m thinking HE will be waiting for me. Well, that is fine. It is the nature of such things. We are both getting older. In his case it is an advantage. In my case, not so much! He is getting faster and I am getting slower, but this is where I go to my fall-back – ‘at least I’m still doing it’.

We are hoping for another big family running get-together in October in Victoria when both the girls and their families will be there, and Cam has to be there, ’cause he lives there. There is another grandson now, Jonah, but he is pretty young, so I’m not sure about ever running with him. We thought maybe a jogging stroller was the answer, but at least for this race, Victoria has a no stroller policy, so it won’t be this time. We are still sorting out who intends to run and what distance. I know Danielle is signed up for the Half and Charlie and I are signed up for the 8K, his next move up in distance. “Uncle Cam” says he is game for the 8K but he hasn’t registered…… yet. We have quite a few marathons among us, something in the neighbourhood of 35 in total, but I don’t think anyone is aiming for a full marathon this time. I guess we will spread ourselves around between the Half and 8K. It should be fun, and boy will there be a LOT of finisher medal bling and race shirts!! Charlie will get to do his first Victoria Marathon Weekend post-race brunch — as a competitor!

So, sorry Sandcastle Team. Hope you understand. I’m trying to do my bit pre-race. I’ll be thinking of you, but my heart (and the rest of me) will be in Summerland, at the Giant’s Head Run!



Preview of things to come! The gates of Hayward Field.

One of these is no surprise, considering this was my fifth time running it out of the 10 times it has been held. The other maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’ve run a ‘sister’ race (‘brother’? – do races come in genders?) by the same organizer.

First up was the Eugene Half Marathon on May 1. It more than lived up to its reputation and my expectations. Probably met or exceeded expectations for several other Forerunners folk with four BQ’s out of six entrants in the full marathon! Yep, it is that kind of course.


Blogger and wife at Pre’s Rock. Still a moving experience.

Being a Race Ambassador (yes, I was, but then you knew that) I got to Eugene early and did a couple of Ambassadorial stints at the Expo. But, before the first session my wife Judi and I made the almost obligatory pilgrimage to Pre’s Rock, and then walked the other side of the Willamette River where you can follow what they call “Pre’s Trail”. This was apparently an area he ran for longer training runs.


Pre’s Trail meanders through much of the last 3 miles of the Eugene Half.

Before the racing even began (Saturday morning to be precise) I had a chance for a quiet coffee with Running in the Zone contributor and running writer extraordinaire, Joe Henderson. We covered more topics in an hour than you would ever imagine. Some of those topics may turn into later posts. For now, I just want to say it was great to be able to touch base. We met up again at the finish, where Joe was awaiting the arrival of the members of “Joe’s Team”. He even had a photographer there, one Mike Lebowitz, who just happens to have lived in and around Vancouver for something like 30 years. The picture here, is his work!


Joe Henderson greeted this old blogger/slogger at the finish. (Photo: Mike Lebowitz)

Well, that kind of skipped over the whole race thing, so I suppose I better step back a little and cover that. Since I don’t do ‘in competition’ photography, I snapped a picture of the fabled gates to Hayward Field while on my way to the Expo on Friday. Just seeing those gates gave me a few chills and excitement for what was to come. Sunday morning dawned bright and cool, perfect conditions for running. A kindly ‘random stranger’ snapped a photo of Judi and me pre-race. It is wonderful to have a personal support team!

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Soon enough we were off and since the full and half use the same course up to about 10 miles and a bit, and have done so as long as I’ve been running this race, there were no particular surprises. I tried to get into the pace I wanted and then just let myself enjoy the morning, the place where I was and what I was doing. It didn’t seem like a really long time before we were passing by Hayward Field again (just around 9 miles). Excellent.

Now, nobody really needs to know that getting older means I have a lot of trouble getting all the way through a long race without a ‘comfort stop’, but that is how it often is and was this time. The main reason for mentioning it is that even that worked out well. Once I knew I just wasn’t going to be able to press on to the finish, the next set of Porto-Potties was a ‘no waiting’ set and I was able to run right into the first one in line. I am totally OK with the time cost of this necessity, but I really HATE having to wait the extra time for others in the same situation. That always hurts. So, a minimal time was required before I was on my way again.


Near 10 Miles. The Beginning of the End!

Between 9 and 10 miles there is a slightly challenging bit of running which is probably only challenging because it IS between 9 and 10 miles (15-16km). At 10 miles the route leaves the road and goes onto walking/biking paths and heads down toward the Willamette and the bridge across, where once on the other side, the marathoners go one way and the half marathoners go the other and really start the drive for home, with something less than 3 miles or 5K remaining.

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

All that said, it started to get ‘demanding’ shall we say. In reviewing my Garmin stats, it looks like I did pretty well up to around 14km before my pace started to drop off. Nothing drastic, but what up to that point had been around what I wanted, what followed got markedly slower. Still, I finished a race I love and nothing beats the feel of heading down the straight-away of Hayward Field, past cheering fans (fans of running, because with just one exception, none of them knew me). Then it was done. On to the post-race and some hard-earned refreshment. No lingering allowed though, as we had to push on to the next race in Las Vegas, NV.

In truth, the hurry was to get a shower before leaving and then get away early enough for an easy drive to our overnight location in Northern California.


Gratuitous tourism photo of the Grand Canyon (South Rim), AZ.

Monday, we drove the rest of the way to arrive at our destination and ‘home’ for the week to come. We pretty much did the tourist thing for the next several days, including a trip to see the Grand Canyon. First time for both of us. Words hardly describe it, as anyone who has visited will know. As a runner, I couldn’t help thinking about a few crazy friends (you know who you are) that think what you should do at a place like this is run – a little adventure known as Rim to Rim to Rim. Uh-huh, run down and across the river and up and down and back up. I couldn’t believe it as I gazed down into that huge chasm. Maybe there needs to be a post on this and other crazy undertakings like the Badwater 135!


Package pick-up for Revel Mt. Charleston Half Marathon. Wearing my Eugene Marathon volunteer shirt!

The weather was great, but for the weekend they were calling for much cooler temps and maybe a shower or two. The race to be run was the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon (and Half). It is the fourth and newest race in the Revel Series. If you don’t know about Revel races, they all have one major characteristic – down-ness, a LOT of down-ness. This one drops about 5,000ft over the full marathon distance and is a fairly smooth profile with just a couple of bumps that may almost be a relief. The half is slightly less steep than the upper part of the full marathon, but still nicely down.

Friday, we headed for the Expo, ready for the Saturday race. Early start! Because there is seldom room where these races start, you go to the Finish and get a bus to the starting area. Because of the logistics it requires an early arrival at the Finish area to catch your bus. Because Vegas can be pretty hot, the start was scheduled for 6:30am. You do the math. It was an early wake-up!

Nicely started! (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Nicely started!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

I’m told there were a few flakes of snow at the top of the marathon course, nothing sticking, just floating down. Well, they were at something like 7600 ft. We half marathoners were much lower down, but even still were over 4500 ft. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t quite as cold as we thought it might be. By the start, when we had to strip down to what we planned to wear for racing, I felt OK in shorts, singlet and arm warmers. Once we got going it was near perfect.

So, I’m not going to describe every step, even if this was a brand new race. The grade was smooth and almost totally down, at least through the first half of the route. After that it flattened a bit and there were a couple of very modest up-grades. The only ‘hill’ was the rise over a major highway we had to cross, then it  was down again to the finish. By the time I finished it was sunny and getting warm.

Double Agent rockin' the Finish!  (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Double Agent rockin’ the Finish!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

As I approached the finish line, I could see the numbers on the clock and knew I was going to finish in a very satisfying time that would prove to be the best I’d done in about two years. With age grading it might even be a bit longer than that.

Revel does good 'bling'! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

Revel does good ‘bling’! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

What I didn’t know was that I was finishing FIRST in my age group. I thought I had spotted a ‘competitor’ early in the race and he left me behind. Obviously, he wasn’t. When I went to get my official result I learned the fabulous news and was sent immediately to collect my gold medal. Revel does a great job of race bling and the inaugural medal and shirt certainly lived up to their normal standard and maybe then some (Big Cottonwood Marathon, in Utah, is a race I’ve run twice, so I have some familiarity with Revel races).

I have been having great sport noting that since this was the first running of the event, coming first also makes me the age-group record holder. That’s right! I HOLD A RECORD! I anticipate it will last about 365 days, but for now, I’m the man. Love it.

I had knocked some 14 minutes off my Eugene time, which was kind of in line with other recent half marathon times. So, my 2:17:23 had me feeling pretty good. Oh, and since you ask, there was another comfort stop of just over a minute, so run time was that much better and while the official time doesn’t change by a second (nor should it), on a personal satisfaction level, this race was fabulous for me.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

We celebrated the race, by going to bed early! (Well, I did anyway. Hey! I was up at 3:00am!) We did manage to take in a couple of shows while in Vegas, one being “Menopause” and the second, on Sunday was “Jersey Boys”. Oh, and since Sunday was also Mother’s Day, we had a really nice late lunch/early dinner before the show.

Monday, it was back on the road and two and a half days later, we arrived home after a very successful vacation and running road trip.

For the runners reading this, I highly recommend both of these races if you haven’t done them.



logoRunning life, that is. The rest of it has already been TOO busy of late. Have you missed me???

First up is a race favourite, the Eugene Marathon (and in my case, Half). I was selected to be a Race Ambassador for this event so will be doing duty at the Expo on Friday (middle of the day) and Saturday (late afternoon). If you are there, come by Soles for Souls and say hello.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

I have run most of the Eugene Half Marathon four times on my feet and uncounted times in my mind. I’ve run the marathon three times and the half once, with this Sunday to be the second time for the half marathon. That is a total of five appearances out of the 10 years this race has been happening. I put it this way because pretty much the first 10 miles of the half and full marathons use the same route. Just past that point the courses split. The first time, maybe the second as well, the marathoners used to stay on the road to Springfield while the half marathoners dodged down a path and across the Willamette River. Now everyone crosses the river before the routes split. So much nicer, I think.

As soon as the Half Marathon turns down river, you will find yourself running beside, or on, or crossing over “Pre’s Trail”. Yep. That Pre. It was the area he went to do long runs. The nice thing about the split too, is that you only have three (3) miles to go (5K for us Canucks).  Hey! What???? Why do Canadians have to run 5K? Because we’re special, I guess.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Speaking of ‘special’ though, when you hit the end of that 3 mile finish segment everyone gets to be truly special. The feeling of turning off Agate Street and through the gates of Hayward Field is pure magic. You enter the track just about where the 200m start area would be and then you round the bend for the finish down the straight-away. This will be my fifth time and I expect the tingle up my spine will be no less than the first time in 2010 when I finished what turned out to be my recent marathon PB. Yep, third best raw time ever and second best age graded. Hmmm, maybe that is partly why I like this race so much. Partly, but far from the only reason. This is a special event for anyone who loves a great course and a legendary running experience. I know that I, like everyone else on May 1, will be “Running in the Footsteps of Legends”.

I won’t be spending much time savouring the moment though. More work to be done! As soon as there is a little recovery time at the post-race festivities, it will be into the car and off in the direction of Las Vegas! Las Vegas? Nevada? Indeed.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon - My most recent marathon.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon 2014 (Photo Revel Race Series)

The timing is either really good or really bad, depending on how you look at it. The Revel Race Series folk decided to start up a brand new marathon/half marathon race just to the north-west of Las Vegas. It is the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon. While Eugene may be one of my favourite races, the Revel series are my favourite KIND of marathon or half. I found out about Revel races via another Marathon Maniac and tried out my first one a couple of years ago: the Big Cottonwood Marathon near Salt Lake City. Revel specializes in running down hill, Big Time. The marathon courses typically drop plus or minus 5,000 feet! Now some would look at this as seriously crazy and knee busting. I, on the other hand, through no fault or cleverness of my own making, seem to be able to run down hills very nicely, thank you very much. I just seem to have a stride or gait or something that works on hills. My fastest ever race was Leg #1 of the Hood to Coast Relay which drops 2000 feet over just under six miles. I may actually be running that baby again come August. We are in for 2016 and I have to run something! Why not Leg #1??

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can't stop yet!

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can’t stop yet!

I’d love to say something about the Mount Charleston race, but since this is the first running, there isn’t much history. OK, no history. However, the Revel series does have a history and they put on a good event. I am much looking forward to this race come May 7. Yes, just six days after Eugene. That is where the good/bad timing comes in. Considering that it can be done in one longish driving trip is the ‘good’ part. Racing two half marathons you want to do well in, just six days apart, is not recommended as I vaguely recall. Decisions must be made.

Right now, I’m thinking strong and steady for Eugene with lots of recovery and care, then give ‘er at Mount Charleston. Because of scale, course profiles are often deceptive with some surprising little ‘ups’ where it looks all down and steeper sections where the downhill looks smooth and even. All that said, the profile tells us this is about a 3% down-grade. A bit steeper up the canyon and a little less so on the town roads, but still always heading down. It should not be terribly punishing and run well could produce a pleasing time for this old codger. You never want to assume that running a downhill course is like having roller-skates on. You still have to run, but gravity will help. It certainly won’t hinder!

Running in the cool high country above the desert will be fun. The race starts early, so hopefully by the time I can finish a half marathon, it still won’t be too hot. Later in the day, the temperatures are going to be getting up there. Even if I have a terrible race, I’d expect to be finished by 9:00am. Heat shouldn’t be a big factor. Hey! Remember me? I’m the guy who loves the Reggae Marathon where you get warm temps and just a wee tad bit of humidity to spice it up.

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

It isn’t that often, if you think about it, that you get to be part of the inaugural event for anything. This will be one for me. I’ve had a few over the years, but when you think of how long I’ve been running, it really isn’t that many. For me, this is going to be a big one. Without straining something (my brain) it seems like this is about the fourth such event. One that really stands out for me was the very first Boston Marathon 5K which started in 2009. Our daughter was running the Marathon and asked me to come be her support team. It was a thrill to be there for her, and to take advantage of the very first BAA 5K run on Sunday morning. They let us ‘borrow’ the official finish line. Probably the only way I will ever get to cross THAT line!

So, that’s it for pre-race speculation. I am very much looking forward to both of these races. You (if you wish) can look forward to the post-race accounts. You know they will be coming!



       The Sandcastle Classic 10K was a perennial feature of the Lower Mainland running scene. The race itself, in one form or another, has been around since 1983, or coming up on  34 years. It has been hosted from the start by the Semiahmoo Sunrunners and Walkers. Over the years the course has changed a bit (OK a LOT in the last couple of years). But, that is life. Part of the recent change has been to move from starting in South Surrey and finishing on the West End of the White Rock Beach, to running the entire course within the confines of the City of White Rock.

Change continues and we (I am a Sunrunner) believe the latest change is going to please a lot of people.

The 10K is dead!   Long live the 5K!

Anyone who knows anything, knows that White Rock is actually VERY small in terms of its physical footprint. Those same ‘know-it-alls’ will also be well aware that there is a whole lot of up and down in White Rock, steep up and down. Finding a 10K route without any of said ‘up and down’ is near impossible.

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

HOWEVER, the Sandcastle 5K Route, out and back along the beach only involves a couple of modestly significant bumps and a gorgeous view of Boundary Bay from end to end. The new course runs the length of Marine Drive from West Beach to East Beach and back, finishing where it starts.

Organizers are super excited about this change and are pretty sure the running community is going to be too. The price is a bargain at $23 including BC Athletics fee and just $20 if you are a competitive member of BC Athletics. The change has been in the works for a little while, but announcements had to await City approval and we are all thrilled that White Rock has embraced the race and given the permit needed to run Marine Drive. If you like water views and funky restaurants and shops,  you are going to LOVE this race! Even though there will be plenty of post-race refreshment, you may want to plan a brunch along the beach before returning home. You’ll be glad you did!

I caught up with the all new Race Director, John Makepeace. Here is what he had to say: “We are excited to offer what we expect will become one of the most popular events in the LMRRS roster! A Sunday morning run along the White Rock beach front just has to be a great way to start the day.”

So, when does all this happen?  June 5, 2016!  That’s when.

You will want to check out the other details at the Sandcastle Classic 5K web site. Registration is open now.

Historically, the Sandcastle Classic races have drawn some top level athletes and a lot of others who just know a good thing when they see it!  The 10K event records (as far as I can determine) are:

Men: 29:34  Warren Barker (1995)

Women: 33:02 Nancy Tinari (2003)

Notable participants include: Carey Nelson, Leah Pells, Jim Finlayson, Nancy Tinari, Tina Connelly, Oliver Utting and probably a number of others from the earliest days, the results of which are still in a dusty old file box somewhere. Man, it was so easy to check the more recent electronically timed races!

But, as one of our race committee pointed out, there are no records for the Sandcastle Classic 5K!  Those 10K records are all water under the White Rock Pier!  That is right. There are going to be a whole bunch of NEW records set on June 5th!  Overall for men and women. Masters, and every age group will have a new record!  Now if that doesn’t get your competitive juices flowing, probably nothing will!

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

This is going to be a family-friendly event, even if it is Race #6 in the Lower Mainland Road Race Series. The course will be open long enough for most people to walk the 5K distance as long as there aren’t too many stops to take in the awesome view or snap ‘selfies’. (Remember, as much as those restaurants have great offerings, they will be open all day, so no stopping along the way for a bite!)

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

We expect this to be a competitive challenge for those so inclined, but also expect to appeal to a lot of people who just enjoy running, run/walking or even walking great courses and supporting local events put on by local people.

Even coming from downtown Vancouver, it is an easy Sunday drive, and while in the interest of green-ness, you may want to car-pool a bit, you can enjoy free parking until noon in the lots near the Start-Finish. The race starts at 8:30am with package pick-up and even race day entry from 7:00am to 8:15am.

And don’t forget in these days of Social Media, you can find the Sandcastle Classic 5K at:

Facebook: Sandcastle Classic 5K

Twitter: @Sandcastle5K

And of course at the Lower Mainland Road Race web page as well as the Sunrunner web page.


Ho Hum to Banner Year in a Few Easy ‘Clicks’

Getting ready to run the First Half, but won't be up with these guys!

Getting ready to run the First Half, but won’t be up with these guys!

Some of this isn’t new news, but I have been personally thrilled about things that have happened in the last while that have turned 2016 from a year where I intended to continue running but without much more of a plan than to ‘do it’.

Wow, has that ever changed!

I am already officially registered to run four of my favourite events of all time and committed to one more as soon as registration opens.

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Good Times (and a good time).

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Good Times (and a good time).

In February, I will run the First Half Half Marathon, for the very first time. I’ve talked about this before, so we’ll just leave that for now. As noted here quite recently, I am a Race Ambassador for the Eugene Marathon. That comes up in May and is also a real favourite. (PS, don’t forget the Ambassador has a discount code to share!) Flashing forward to late August, after several years of trying unsuccessfully, I got a team accepted into the Hood to Coast Relay. Oh yeah! Registered, and recruited a full team already. The fourth event is the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. This one is going to be a bit different because rather than the full or half marathon, I will (again, a first) be running the 8K with grandson Charlie.

Home stretch of Giant's Head Run (2015)

Home stretch of Giant’s Head Run (2015)

So there you have it! Just like that, all registered in four of my favourite racing events. BUT WAIT (as they say on the TV ads) that isn’t all. I am committed to a reprise of the Giant’s Head Run with Charlie in June. That makes FIVE really special races in the schedule and it has only just turned February.

I’ve already made posts about the First Half and Eugene so let me dodge ahead to October and the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon Weekend. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that knows me, that I have a spot in my heart and race schedule for this event. My first ‘doing’ of this event was in 2000, when it was still the Royal Victoria Marathon. I made my marathon come-back there. Well, if you can call running  your second marathon a ‘come-back’.  In a way it was, since I ran the first one in 1988, wound up with a serious back problem and operation that happened in May of 1990. Then, later in that decade I just got so busy that I mostly didn’t race at all until about 1998. The time wasn’t totally without racing, but it was pretty sporadic. I ran but mostly did not race or train to race. I did actually start training for a marathon in 1991 while living/working in Brussels, Belgium, but it fell through for lack of training time.

Janna Finishing RVM, October 2000.

Janna Finishing her First Marathon. RVM, October 2000.

So, it took until October 2000 and a lot of serious intent to ‘get er done’, before Marathon #2 went into the books. Well since then I have run a total of six half marathons and 5 marathons and launched our Running in the Zone book, at Victoria. This year, as noted, I will run the 8K for the very first time and it will be special because I’ll be running with my new running buddy, Charlie. By October, it should be at least our third race together. I hope I will still be able to stay with him. In case it isn’t obvious, we are kind of going in opposite directions where it comes to running pace. I figure it is only a matter of time (and not much of it) until I’m saying “See you at the finish” and meaning “Please wait for me at the finish”. I suppose it isn’t that I’m losing ground at such a rapid pace, but I know Charlie is going to get faster, and soon. If I had to predict, it would be something like this. In 2015 in the Giant’s Head Run, I had to pace to Charlie’s current capability. In 2016, I am kind of betting we may be on somewhat the same level. By October, he may have to slow down for me. Maybe not quite yet, but soon. As I said, we are kind of moving in opposite directions, but that is a good thing.

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

If that wasn’t enough, it is going to be a full-on family running weekend! Out of the 11 previous Victoria appearances, most have involved one or the other of our daughters (Danielle and Janna) and sometimes both. And, while I was running my second marathon, Janna was running her first! That was a big event for all of us. Not only did Janna and I run our first marathon together, it inspired Danielle to take on the challenge of the marathon a year later in Toronto. I recently added up the total for the extended family and all together, counting kids and spouses of kids plus me, our full marathon count has now reached 36! Not even going to bother to check but our half marathons are probably pushing 100. The family that runs together……………….

Our son lives in Victoria and has agreed that he will get in the spirit and do the 8K too. Danielle and Janna and their families will be there. Both sons-in-law run and wife Judi is ready to take on a challenging walk. Right now, details are still being sorted. Danielle is registered for the Half and Charlie and I are registered for the 8K. Everybody else is thinking about the distance they might do. But, I do know hotels have been booked, so it is definitely on. I know one son-in-law is looking for another marathon to do, but not too likely this is going to be the one because of his schedule. We have one grandson too young to run and with race rules prohibiting strollers, is unable to ride. So, there still needs to be some sorting of who is running what and who looks after Jonah. However it works out, this is going to be one big family celebration of running! Going to be a highlight of my year for sure.

Bob's Border Busters - Hood to Coast 1987

Bob’s Border Busters – Hood to Coast 1987

Backing up a bit, Hood to Coast will be a great event for me too. The first time was in 1987. This will be the ninth, but they were not evenly spaced. Number Two was 1989, but Number Three was in 2006. There have certainly been a lot of changes including numbers of teams and even the finish location, which naturally means the route too, especially from Portland onward. In the early days it was JUST the Hood to Coast Relay. The Portland to Coast and High School Challenge were added later. With more and more teams it got harder to get in and this last round, it took three attempts to secure a place. The nature of the race has changed too, from what might have been somewhat of a rolling party to something fairly tightly scripted. What hasn’t changed is the attitude of fun on the run. A big part of the fun for me is the planning.

Ready to Start Hood to Coast - 1989

Ready to Start Hood to Coast – 1989

Back in 1989 I ran Leg #1 and it is the fastest sustained pace I’ve ever run over a distance (about 5.5 miles). It was glorious and I bask in the memory of it. Now, I have fun with trying to get all the team members into the best leg set for both them and the team. It is getting to be time to start doing that, even if the relay is still many months away. Oh yeah!  Hours of Fun! Oh, and it looks a lot like I’ll be giving myself Leg #1 again. No, I’m not trying to relive past glory. If you don’t mind running steep, sustained downhill (the actual Leg One) then it is the right place for the oldest, slowest runner on the team. Funny enough, although the post-Portland Leg #1 route has changed and was a bit longer back in 1989, I ran it then because I was one of the slowest on our team, even if I did come down that hill at a pace of 5:59/mile. That’s right. On that team, I was one of the ‘slow’ guys. We came 19th in Men’s Open, and those were the days of crack teams put together by Nike and others, using the very best from their stable of distance runners. That included such people as Alberto Salazar. Today, the ‘pointy end’ of the relay still involves amazing runners, but not quite like those days. Did I mention we came 19th in Men’s Open?

There are several other races that are fairly special to me and I’m working on the plans to get them into the schedule. Some involve travel outside Canada and that is not inexpensive these days, so we will have to see what we will have to see. Guess you might think I’m being a bit greedy considering the great line-up of special races already ‘on tap’!

So, that is it for my plans for the moment. What does your 2016 look like? Hope you are heading for as special a year as I expect to have!



logoFollowers here know I decided a year or two back to try new things when the chance arises. A NEW CHANCE JUST AROSE!

One of my favourite races, the Eugene Marathon selected me to be one of their 2016 Ambassadors!

I am pretty thrilled for a bunch of reasons, but I realized that this is the “10th YEAR RUNNING and will be my FIFTH time of running either the full (3X) or half (2X as of this year). Let’s face it folks, there aren’t that many races of which any of us could say we’d done HALF!

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Passing Hayward Field.

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Passing Hayward Field.

This is a great job for me! I think I’ve been doing it unofficially since the first time I ran Eugene in 2010. That was a pretty big year of running for me and the Eugene Marathon was one of the highlights. It was also one of my personal best marathons. I really have two adult distance running careers. Well, maybe that should be RACING  careers. My first marathon was run in 1988 in Vancouver, but I didn’t run the second one until the Victoria Marathon of 2000. Oh yes, and there was that thing about a ruptured disk and back operation that happened between #1 and #2. On a raw time basis the first was the fastest and the second was, well, second fastest. Many of you know how I do love age grading to keep track of myself (then and now). Eugene, run in 2010, some 22 years after my first, was (and remains) my third best raw time and second best age graded (out of a total of 26 marathons – Eugene 2010 being #13). Oh yeah, and to my everlasting surprise and delight, I was THIRD in M65-69.

Still wondering why I love Eugene?  OK, well here are some other reasons.

Harry Jerome - Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Harry Jerome – Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

1. Track Town USA!  I am of an age when Eugene was the epi-centre of running excellence, at least for West Coasters. I knew a number of promising runners who took their careers forward in Eugene and under the expert coaching of Bill Bowerman and his staff. The biggest name among them, I suppose, was Harry Jerome. I am not going to try to pretend Harry was a friend, but we did belong to the same track club and did train together under the same coach. I even raced him once! And hey, how many of the people you ran with over the years have a statue to commemorate their achievements?

2. Hayward Field. If Eugene is ‘Track Town’, Hayward Field must be City Hall! The Eugene Marathon FINISHES on Hayward Field! #goosebumps #Imighthavecriedabit

"Pre's Rock" - Eugene, OR

“Pre’s Rock” – Eugene, OR

3. Running in the Footsteps of Legends. The long-time ‘tag line’ for the race. Nothing could be more true! The people who have run in that stadium are truly legendary. I think the first that would pop to mind, at least for anyone my age, is ‘Pre’. Steve Prefontaine, even though his true potential probably went unrealized, ranks near the top of the list of Legends. Truth be told, the legendary performances continue to be recorded to this very day at Hayward Field, and who knows how many more will emerge in years to come.

4. A First Class Race. Never mind what was and everything included in the first three points. The Eugene Marathon (and Half) is a top quality race in its own right. The course is fast and essentially flat, with a good return on PB and BQ aspirations. Even if you aren’t looking for those outcomes, the organization is superb and volunteers as good as you will find. Post race is pretty much top shelf too.

As an official Ambassador, I can help you out with information and a special discount on registration if you are running the Half or Full Marathon. More on that later.  But, the weekend has more happening than just those two races, so if you are bringing kids or someone not quite ready for a marathon or half marathon, there are other options. On Saturday (April 30) there is the Run Track Town 5K and the “Duck Dash” (1 K) for kids.

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Metro Vancouver and British Columbia runners seem to have a strong affinity for the Eugene Marathon. In 2015 I personally ran the half marathon, but was part of a group of 28 from the Forerunners marathon and half marathon clinics that descended on Eugene for one or other of the distances, coming away with something like 8-10 PB results, 8 BQs and 3 age group podium finishes, including one First and a total of 7 Top Ten placings. Although not there for 2015, Jeremiah (Jerry) Ziak of Forerunners North Vancouver has won the 5K (2011 in 14:46). And this is just the story for my Forerunners friends, not counting those running with Peninsula Runners as well as other clubs and clinics. I mention Peninsula in particular, because they have sent some pretty big contingents over the years and I am sure have produced some very satisfying results among their runners.

Why and How you run any race is up to you. I mentioned my 2010 result above. It was one of my best and I trained and raced with the intention of making it so. The next year I had every intention of repeating (only faster) but a late training injury put the result somewhat in the ‘pathetic’ category. I should have just said ‘not this time’, but I thought I was OK when the race started. OK to run, not to better the previous year. Wrong. But, I did finish. 2014 was a slower time but good for me at the time and age. 2015, the Eugene Half Marathon was the second of four half marathons done in a total of 15 days. To the outside observer the time was far from stellar, but for me it was just what I needed as the second step in my project to ‘moon up’ to Level Four in Half Fanatics! I also used the 2013 Eugene Marathon to scoot myself up to the Silver Level of Marathon Maniacs. I only mention these things because they are examples of the literally thousands of personal goals expressed on the road on any given race day. What will your goal be??

OK, let’s get down to basics.

Eugene Marathon puts on a great weekend. I recommend you think about making it part of your personal race calendar.

If you do feel this is for you, I have a special code that will give a discount for either the half or full marathon. Send me a Personal Message on the Facebook Page for Running in the Zone. OR, you can e-mail me at :

The main race day is Sunday May 1, 2016. The Expo and package pick-up starts April 29 going through April 30. The Run Track Town 5K and Duck Dash are on Saturday April 30.

Registration fees and deadlines are found HERE.

Accommodation in Eugene should be booked early. Of course the Race Web Site has a page for hotels and many offer discounts. If you are of that sort of mind, Air BnB is an option to consider too.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

The ROUTES for the marathon and half start on Agate Street just outside Hayward Field, running into South Eugene and Amazon Park, eventually looping back right past Hayward Field just around nine miles. Runners head toward the Willamette River, crossing over on the Bike Bridge around 10 miles, after which the two routes separate. with marathoners running up-river into Springfield and half marathoners heading into the ‘beginning of the end’ on the pathways on the North Side of the Willamette, from time to time quite near and even paralleling ‘Pre’s Trail’. After a foot tour of part of Springfield, marathoners follow the streets to Autzen Stadium where they too get onto paved pathways following the river. For most of the last 10 miles, runners are quite near the Willamette River, first on one side and then the other as they turn back toward the finish at Hayward Field.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo by Eugene Marathon)

Regardless of half or full marathon, everybody finishes by running along Agate toward those iconic gates that welcome everyone back to Hayward Field. If you have any kind of a ‘runner’s soul’ or sense of the history of this place, I challenge you to pass through those gates without having some kind of chill up the spine or maybe even a sudden surge of emotion, including a tear (if you are me). Everyone hits the track just about where a 200m race would start and then runs the curve and down the straight to the finish arch. If you aren’t so concentrated on the clock or finish mat that you forget, you can actually watch yourself finish on the JumboTron screen!

The courses are fast, mostly flat with just enough roll to keep your legs loose. There are two bumps that actually qualify as hills and you are done with them by about 8 miles. The race has been in the Top 15 BQ producers for some time. I suppose that should tell you something, whether you are looking for the BQ or just a good personal result.

Is Eugene the only race on May 1? Hardly. First of all, there is no running season weekend that doesn’t offer multiple options. It is the reality of the times and popularity of our sport. For Vancouver runners, the obvious situation is that this year, the BMO Vancouver Marathon is the same day. Last year that wasn’t so. I actually ran the half in both places, my 11th time for Vancouver and fourth for Eugene. I guess we just have to realize there are choices to make. This year I will be choosing the Eugene event. Others will need to make their own decisions.

For those who do pick Eugene, I will really look forward to greeting you at the Expo and Package Pick-Up. That is part of my job as Race Ambassador, but one I love. The Expo of any Marathon is one of my favourite places to be, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding me! For all my Vancouver area running friends please feel free to look me up and chat about the Eugene Marathon      “10 Years Running

So whaddaya say?  See you in Eugene in May!?




pacific road runners - bright blue

A Well Recognized Logo!

The short answer is YES.

People who know me, this blog and the race, also know this post was to be anticipated. Unlike some races I am known to love and promote unofficially, The “First Half” Half Marathon sold out months ago. Registration will not be impacted by even one runner through the words of this blog. One thing that might is VOLUNTEERS. Unlike most races of its size these days (over 2000 finishers), this is still a 100% club organized and volunteer delivered event, supported by super generous partners such as Forerunners (from day one) and Mizuno (now with the race for some eight years). Excess proceeds from the race go to Variety – The Children’s Charity and now total well in excess of $650,000!

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

For the first 20 years, members of Pacific Road Runners (“the Club”) were not allowed to run the First Half. We all had to be the core of the volunteer brigade. It did create a bit of a tension in that some really good local runners were prevented from running what is arguably Vancouver’s best half marathon. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are some fine races here, but the First Half is still the only half marathon that sells out over 2000 spots in 24 hours or less. I see that as a direct vote by runners. Some might argue that having been Race Director for several years and stage MC ever since, that I could be biased. Could be.

Anyway, it just happened that when I took over RD duties, it was coming up on the 20th Anniversary of the race. I decided an experiment was in order and the Race Committee agreed. On a one and done special deal, we would let five PRR members run (chosen by lottery) as long as they got their volunteer hours in before or after the race. Well, long story short, it worked just fine and we did not have to invoke the ‘special circumstance’ argument to return to the old policy. A small number of club members now get to run each year. A big plus is that PRR gets a runner’s eye view of why the event is held so high in the collective opinion of the running community and to keep a direct eye on any issues on course.

Normally, this post is all about what a great race it is shaping up to be and how hard everyone works and wishing runners well. All that still stands, but this time I have something very major and personal to announce. For the first time ever, maybe the ONLY time, I will be running the First Half.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

I will put down my microphone and lace up my running shoes and find out first hand, just what it is all about. I am hoping that the running gods will favour me with one of those great running days for this experience. My argument to the current RD was basically that I wanted to do the race (please and pretty please) while I am still able. Not to be morbid, but I just had my 71st birthday and at that age your next injury might just be the last. I am very excited to have this opportunity and intend to take full advantage the experience!

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

I continue as a pace group leader at the Forerunners Saturday First Half clinic, but instead of telling tales of the event to those who will be running, I am now sharing my own excitement at being ONE OF THEM. While I’ve never run the race, I’ve run almost every part of the course at one time or another. The difference now is that I am not just giving advice to the pace group runners, I am making my own plans and strategies on how to approach each segment.

There are probably only two ways for me to run this race. One would be to just go really easy and take a couple of photographs (if weather is as spectacular is it has sometimes been), talk to volunteers and other runners and just make it a celebration. The other is to honour this race that has hosted so many of Canada’s top distance runners over the years, and do the very best I can. That means training well and running the race for time. Guess which one I will be doing! I’ll save the celebratory run for if I ever manage to BQ.

Now don’t get the wrong idea when I say I will ‘run for time’. Nobody at the pointy end of the race has anything to worry about, probably not even the better runners in my own age group, for that matter. Although I am thrilled to get a podium place when I can, I have mostly run against myself throughout my racing years. So, when I say I will run for time, it will just be the best time I can produce. Only I will know for sure how successfully I will pull that off. Whatever, I do intend to take this race as seriously as any race I’ve done in a long time.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

I will be writing about the race again, nearer to the event. While I am a great proponent for running for your own reasons and to your own standards, I also have a deep love and appreciation of excellence. So, once we know who the top prospects will be, I will be talking about that a bit. This year being an Olympic year and a couple of our better runners and event winners not having yet qualified for the marathon, there may be some race strategy determining who will run and how fast. More on that when we get closer. As a teaser though, here is a list of former First Half winners. For the men: Peter Butler (won the very first First Half), Carey Nelson, Colin Dignum (2X), Phil Ellis (2X), Norm Tinkham (2X), Art Boileau (3X), Bruce Deacon (5X and record holder 1992 – 2007), Ryan Hayden (2X and record 2007), Rob Watson (2X) and Dylan Wykes (3X and current First Half record holder at 1:04:21, set in 2012).

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

On the women’s side: Isabelle Dittberner (won the first First Half and again in 1993), Lisa Harvey (4X), Tina Connelly (3X and event record holder at 1:12:47, set in 2004), Natasha Wodak (2X), Lucy Smith (2X) plus several notable one time winners including Ellie Greenwood, Leah Pells and Sylviane Puntous. For those who might remember, the Puntous twins were world class Triathletes, but also very good runners. They were famous for finishing One-Two and the 1991 First Half was no exception with Sylviane first at 1:15:08 and Patricia second in 1:15:13. The family that runs together…..

One should never get the impression that these wins were the complete record for these athletes. I only listed the wins, but many of these fine runners recorded other podium finishes as well and some went on to win the Masters division. And, the book is still open on the current crop of elites as to how many more First Half wins and podium places they will record.

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

The event has also been graced by the presence of some amazing older athletes, first among them being BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh, a regular at the First Half and an inspiration to all. According to the records posted at the First Half web site, BJ holds the age group records for W60-64 through W80+. The times range from 1:39:40 for W60-64 to 2:07:07 for W80+ (by my calculation, done when she was 82). Another runner of note is Herb Phillips who posted a record time of 1:23:19 for M65-69. I almost hesitate on mentioning these few people because it leaves out so many other superb athletes.

Everybody must now go to the Start!

Everybody must now go to the Start!

I would be remiss in not mentioning that a huge number of the less noteworthy runners out there are doing their own amazing races. I will tell just one story here but think it sums things up and because it was personal and moving for me. I guess it is also a great example of why we all need to give back to the sport we love. As I usually do when being stage MC, last year, after making the final announcement that the race was about to start, I went out to actually watch the start of the race. My usual spot is at Pacific and Davie, about 200m down-course from the starting line. You can get some great photographs from that point, and for no extra cost, if you just wait a few minutes, everybody comes right back past that location after the initial approximately one mile loop around BC Place. Because things start to string out a bit, it is also a great place to spot people you know.

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

I was standing there cheering and photographing and chatting with Karen and Peter Butler from Forerunners and my co-MC, Anjulie Latta (who actually has a personal link to what now follows).  The elites had passed by as well as a good many strong runners, when all of a sudden a young woman dashed over to me yelling as she came, “Are you Dan??” Having no time to think of why I might deny it, I said “YES”. She proceeded to give me a big hug and thank me profusely for getting her where she was (running the First Half). So, here is the deal. Several years before I had been her Sun Run InTraining Clinic Coordinator and had helped her get started on the road to running. Anjulie, as it happens, was the Area Coordinator at the time and thereby, my ‘boss’. The conversation was brief as you might imagine, but this young woman told me she had done every Sun Run since that first clinic and some 11 half marathons to boot!  Then, she was gone. The whole thing took just a few seconds, but it was very emotional for me and apparently for her because it was important enough for her to run off course to thank me. It made me realize that contributing what you can to assist others can have an impact far beyond anything you might imagine. No, not every time and not for everyone, but often enough and to a level most of us would never understand. I cried a little.

And for all of this, and because so many work so hard to put on this race, I just have to give it my very best come February 14, 2016!