The SeaWheeze Ex­pe­ri­ence: Canada’s must-do half-marathon

CANADA’S MUST-DO HALF-MARATHON

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Sinead Mul­h­ern

Van­cou­ver is one of the great­est run­ning cities in world. Each sum­mer, it plays host to the Lu­l­ule­mon SeaWheeze, a week­end fes­ti­val ded­i­cated to fit­ness and well­ness. The event is capped off by an ex­tra­or­di­nary half-marathon, run mostly along Stan­ley Park ’s Seawall. Cana­dian Run­ning’s web ed­i­tor Sinead Mul­h­ern headed west to ex­pe­ri­ence it for her­self, along the way peer­ing be­hind the Lu­l­ule­mon cur­tain to see how their in­no­va­tive apparel is made.

When Cana­dian Run­ning picks the best spot to run in Canada each year, Van­cou­ver’s Seawall is au­to­mat­i­cally thrown into the mix. While our coun­try has too many pic­turesque places to nar­row the “best” down to just one, the Seawall is an ob­vi­ous choice. Kilo­me­tres of un­in­ter­rupted run­ning, Pa­cific Ocean views, scents of fresh pine and like-minded in­di­vid­u­als to share the path with…its a run­ner’s par­adise. That’s what I’d heard any­way. Last sum­mer, I ran there for the first time at the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon, hosted by Cana­dian ac­tive-wear brand Lu­l­ule­mon. Van­cou­ver, for me, is a cit y of f irsts. En route from Toronto to the West Coast hub, it dawned on me that the f irst time I re­mem­ber be­ing on a plane was on a trip from Ed­mon­ton to Van­cou­ver when I was four years old. Then, I was there for a dance com­pe­ti­tion and felt sat­isf ied when I got my tiny hands on a shiny sil­ver prize medal. It ’s pos­si­ble t hat t hat ’s also around t he t ime when I de­vel­oped my com­pet­i­tive per­son­al­ity. Who would have known that it would be 20 years un­til I’ d be back in the cit y, ready again for new ex­pe­ri­ences. Run­ning on the fa­mous Seawall left an im­pres­sion that will last. I woke up on Satur­day (race morn­ing) be­fore 5 a.m. and dressed in the SeaWheeze-in­spired gear spe­cially de­signed for the race. I did my checks: race gear sorted, shoes se­cured, re­port­ing tools ready to go. I was fed and fu­elled and I hoped that my body would carry me through the 21.1k with­out er­ror. Speak­ing hon­estly though, I was wor­ried that a mi­nor foot in­jury would resur­face or that my some­times ques­tion­able right calf mus­cle would seize up or that I’d hit the wall way too soon and have to drag my­self through to the fin­ish. How many of us come up with these wild, un­re­al­is­tic sce­nar­ios be­fore get­ting to the start?

About 10,000 run­ners showed up to run the course. Like me, most of them trav­elled here. Un­like me, many of them came from much far­ther away – Aus­tralia, New Zealand, South Amer­ica, Europe and parts of Asia.

Des­ti­na­tion races have ex­ploded in run­ning cul­ture and hav­ing sam­pled a few of these bucket list-type events in the past year, I un­der­stand why. This is a great time to be a run­ner. Where in the past, marathons and half-marathons might have brought forth only the most com­pet­i­tive speed­sters in the pack, now we have these races that draw us more for the tourism value they of­fer. Time bets are off, if we want them to be.

“About 10,000 run­ners showed up to run the course. Like me, most of them trav­elled here. Un­like me, many of them came from much far­ther away.”

As I weaved from down­town Van­cou­ver – past sail boats and along the breezy sea-side board­walk – I re­al­ized that for those who trav­elled to Van­cou­ver to race SeaWheeze, the high point of the va­ca­tion has been de­signed al­ready. The peo­ple who planned this race know the area in­side-out. They know Van City’s most f lat­ter­ing views. Con­sult­ing maps and find­ing your way has a time and a place. Some­times though, it’s nice to have oth­ers plan the ex­pe­ri­ence for you. That’s what SeaWheeze does.

Half­way through the race, I stopped on the bridge to cheer on run­ners as the Spice Girls boomed in the back­ground (yes, that was me film­ing you on our Face­book Live feed, sorry). On my first time run­ning the Seawall, I saw lush tree-lined path­ways, mer­maids in full cos­tume, clean and clear wa­ters, moun­tains off in the dis­tance and my favourite: pad­dle-board­ers en­joy­ing a Satur­day morn­ing ex­plor­ing the wa­ters sur­round­ing Si­wash Rock – a tow­er­ing rocky piece sit­ting in the salty wa­ter just off the path.

None of my pre-race fears ma­te­ri­al­ized. In­stead, I coasted through the course and was so busy rev­el­ling in the ex­pe­ri­ence that be­fore I knew it, I was at the 18th kilo­me­tre marker. This course begs run­ners to let go, so for the first time, I ac­tu­ally ran a race watch-free and with no com­pet­i­tive in­tent or any idea of my pace. I even for­got to check my fin­ish time un­til some­one asked. In that re­gard, the medal I re­ceived af­ter­wards has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing than the ones I got at my dance com­pe­ti­tion in this city two decades ago. This one proves that some­times it’s bet­ter not to take your­self too se­ri­ously and to just en­joy the mo­ment.

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