Last year Mountain Equipment Co-op hosted a few low cost ($15 entry fee) races in Greater Vancouver, and this year they've stepped it up and will be holding several. The second one presented by the North Vancouver MEC was on Saturday, March 30th. The descriptively named MEC North Vancouver Race Two was held at Inter River Park, with the 10K starting at 9 AM, followed by the 5K at 9:15.
I saw Vas when I got there, and Rob Daniel arrived soon after. It was easily warm enough to just wear a singlet, about 12 degrees or so when we started, so I ran my first race of the year without another shirt underneath it. I saw Ingo as I approached the start line when my race was about to begin, but he was heading toward the facilities so I assumed he was running the 5K.
We took off at 9 AM under sunny skies, and the first 100 meters were flat as we ran through the parking lot, but as soon as we hit the road that I'd driven down to get there, it was all fairly steep uphill for a couple of hundred meters. I slowed down immediately and some better (and younger) hill climbers passed me. We finished our climb and hit the road, and the next three kilometers featured several sight uphills followed by level ground. Then it flattened out for about a kilometer, and I just tried to keep pace with a group of four runners in front of me.
I passed Vas at about the 4K mark, and soon after this we were directed to our right to run through a gravel lot, over a bunch of small rocks at the end of it, and then into the woods. As I approached the end of the lot the race leaders were already coming back, and I made sure to stay to the right of the path as anyone ahead of me would be coming back toward me in the opposite direction.
I hit the turnaround and started back, and exchanged greetings with Vas as he came towards me soon after. There was a bit of undulation when we were in the woods, and it was tricky running over the rocks, but after this it was all flat ground and everyone seemed to pick up speed as we headed back. At about the 7K mark we were started hitting what were now downhills for us, and it was a speedy run heading in.
With about a kilometer and a half to go I heard someone behind me and gaining, and this inspired me to pick up the pace. The person persisted in not only staying with me, but slowly gaining, and with about a kilometer to go Vas came up beside me. I said "Way to go, you caught up to me!" and he said he'd really been able to pick up the speed going downhill. Soon we were turning into where we'd come from, but instead of going down the road we'd run up from the lot, we were directed to run around through another lot and around to a downhill path to the finish line. Vas was already ahead of me and now he really picked it up, and I couldn't make any headway on him, but concentrated on trying to keep up with the woman who'd just passed me.
Soon I was across the line, fairly close behind the woman who I would later discover finished in 3rd place in her gender. Vas was waiting, we congratulated each other on a good race, and after grabbing some water and a couple of small chocolate Easter eggs I headed to my car to get my camera. I went back to where Vas was and he got a fellow to take our picture with his camera, which I later scooped off Facebook.
I went and got some more Easter eggs and a banana. They had the ones with a hard candy shell on them, and regular ones wrapped in foil. I went and got some pictures at the finish line while cheering for the incoming racers, while Vas went to his car to put on warmer clothes.
He came back and then Ingo came up to talk to us, he thought the 5K was more like 6K, but he didn't mind.
Finally Rob Daniel had come in, and he was the last one. He'd taken a tumble and had some cuts on his shoulders and lip plus he had a black eye. They looked after him in the First Aid tent, and after being sure he was okay Vas said he had to get going. Rob looked like hell, but he's tough and finished the race in spite of his injuries. Ingo noticed they were pouring some more of the foil wrapped eggs in the bowl, we'd thought they were all gone. The 3 of us went over and talked while peeling and eating our eggs and Rob and myself grabbed a coffee. There was another MEC event at Burnaby Lake in a week, and they said they were going to run it. A woman volunteer overheard us and came and gave me a brochure.
I told them I was running the Fool's Run Half Marathon on the Sunday, so I probably wouldn't want to run that the day before, but I'd see. I'd already had to get away from the egg table, those things are addictive, and the volunteers were packing everything up, so I decided to head home. Rob looked way better by the now, and he laughed and said they'd be seeing me on Saturday at Burnaby Lake. I've thought about it since but I decided it was best to just go do the Fool's Run, that would be enough racing for the upcoming weekend.
Here's the results, I finished 22 of 58 overall, with a time of 44:44. There weren't any age groups. Vas beat me by 15 seconds, the 3rd place woman, Devon Miller, was 4 seconds ahead of me, and thankfully I finished ahead of the person behind me, listed as Glen "Fatty" Richie. They had medals for top 3 male and female in each race, and we saw people with medals on, but it must have been a quiet awards ceremony because we somehow missed it.
So my next race is the Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run on Sunday, April 7 at 9:30 AM. We start in Gibsons and run the 21.1 Ks to the beach at Sechelt, and then from 11:30 to 1:20 they shuttlebus us back. Rob never mentioned he was doing the race, but I noticed he's signed up online, so hopefully I'll see him there.