Sunday, April 2, 2017

Race Report: BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run - April 2nd, 2017

Back home after an awesome day on the Sunshine Coast after the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run. The Coast certainly lived up to it's sunshiney name, as it was absolutely perfect out there. This was my 6th year in a row participating in this event and my 4th year in a row as blog ambassador (please note I forgot to update my bio for this year, so it's a year out of date!).

I had to approach the race a little differently this year. Normally a half marathon isn't really an issue, a challenge yes, but not an issue. I have not been able to train at the level that I would have needed to over the last several weeks, so I knew that 21.1km was not going to be realistic, or at least not a comfortable experience for me to complete. The last thing I wanted to do was not run, or to have a bad experience trying. I was thrilled when Teresa, the fabulous race director, posted on Facebook that there was a 4-person relay team looking for a 4th team member. I contacted her right away, asked if I could switch my registration, and when I had the green light, I got myself in touch with the team captain. It turned out we were a good match, and I signed up to run the last leg of the race for the team "Hill is a 4-Letter Word". Sure, a 5.4km leg isn't a challenge for me, but I knew that I wanted to be part of this event no matter what and that it'd be fun to try something different. If I took an approach that relieved the pressure of the whole distance, I could do just that, have fun. And really, that's what running is about and should be about.

One of the things I LOVE about this particular race is the community feel of the event. It's a seriously awesome race with serious competitors, and all the details you'd expect of a well-run event (it's exceptionally organized and celebrating its 40th anniversary). But the spirit of this community, those who choose to run this event, those who call the Sunshine Coast home, and everyone else, are what make this event so special. I feel like today I got to experience that more than I ever have. Deciding to run this event as a relay team member gave me a unique perspective on the race, and an experience I won't soon forget.

Soon after switching my registration over from the half to the relay, I was friended on Facebook by my team captain and part of a group chat with the other team members to plan our pre-race meet up and get clarity on who was running what leg, etc. I already felt a bit of the warm fuzzies of the awesome running community right away as my team welcomed me with open arms.

This morning, I took the 7:20am ferry with my friend Mary who returned to run the half marathon for her second year in a row after I convinced her to run with me last year. We had a great sailing, saw the beautiful sunshine warming the skies, and soon enough, we docked at the Langdale terminal with our yellow buses and the "ferry fairy" there to greet us and take us to the start line at the Gibsons Community Centre. I had the same bus driver I have every year, and great conversation with fellow bus riders, some new to the race, some veterans like myself.

At the community centre, there was plenty time to get organized, check bags, and so on. Of course, I didn't have to prep to run quite yet as I wasn't going to start running until 5.4km from the finish line. I had lots of time to spare. Instead, I snuck in some selfies and watched the start of the race.

With Mary at the bag check room
By surprise, I found and old running buddy Alexa at the start line!
BMO bear wanted a selfie too....

After the selfies, I headed beyond the start line so I could get a good look at the race as it got going. That was a lot of fun! I had a few people say "aren't you on the wrong side of the line?" which was kind of funny.
Getting ready to go!
After the race got underway, I had 20 minutes to spare while I waited for the shuttle bus to take me to my relay exchange point. It was enough time to use the washroom and relax a few min. There were later buses I could have taken, considering I was running the last leg, but I liked the idea of being able to watch the race a bit and cheer on the runners until it was my turn to run. I was going to be waiting right at the top of the hill on Marlene Rd., which I know is NOT an easy section of the race. It was sure fun to be able to tell people they killed a hill, by the time they got up to the top where I was waiting. But it also allowed me to see who was in the lead in the race. Here are blurry, zoomed in on my cell phone photos of the top finishers:

Paul Kimugal, top male and overall
Jane Murage, top female
The bus ride to the exchange was also fantastic. The bus driver was super friendly, ensuring that at every stop, runners knew where they were going, that they were given safe passage to cross the road (yay for school bus stop signs and lights!), and was quick witted and happy to chat with us on the journey. I also sat near a girl who was getting off at the same stop so we felt good knowing we would have someone to talk to while waiting for our turn to run. We had what we called "dreamboat conversation" about all kinds of topics. We got to know the other relay runners who either came on later buses or drove in, and we had a blast chatting it up and playing cheerleader to runners passing by. It was a morning characterized by "talking with strangers" and my usually introverted self was enjoying this extroverted experience. I was thrilled to hear how many of these relay participants were just getting into running, or this was there first ever race and they wanted to be part of a half marathon.

It was also so nice to be at this tough point in the race to high five and encourage Alexa and Mary as they passed. And I ended up seeing a bunch more runners I knew as well! Did they learn of this race because of ME? Maybe :) I'll just say yes!

Two of my teammates, Brianna and Emma, ended up driving to my exchange point after they finished running so they could cheer in Jasmin (our third runner) and see me off. That was awfully sweet of them! When we saw Jasmin come up the hill we cheered super loud, I gave her a quick high five, and off I was to run my 5.4km leg to the finish line.

The beauty of having run this race 5 times over is that I know it so very well, and exactly what to expect, every turn and every hill. The difference today was that I was starting a few hundred metres from the 16km mark but with fresh legs. I wasn't tired and spent, I was just starting! I was also a little cold from standing a little in the cold. Had I known better what my teammates pace was, I could have timed a warmup jog, but it was fun the way I approached. Once I got going, I warmed up plenty. The sun was sure beating down and gorgeous. I knew I had one hill to the 17km marker, another short one would come up later, but otherwise it was mostly downhill or flat to the finish.

I ran strong, and loved how quickly those km markers came by. It felt like redemption for the halfs I ran where those last kms were hard. When I turned the corner to the finish, I was very surprised to see I only took 33min to get that far (on my watch). In total, our team completed the relay in 2:25:50. Not bad at all! I was greeted by friendly volunteers at the finish, and was handed 4 medals to distribute to my team, who were all the sidelines cheering loudly!

My team Emma, Jasmin, Brianna, and me!

I found Mary at the finish line and after enjoying some of the delicious post race food (yummy soup! fruit, bagels, yogourt, loads to choose from), we watched a bit more of the race as she had a whole clan of friends (one family called the Joneses) in the event, some of whom were walking and hadn't arrived yet, we watched the kids run, and then planned our afternoon. But not before some more photo ops. Here is the Jones family and their awesome matching t-shirts!

The back of the shirts: "WTF! Where's The Finish?"
The Joneses allowed me to tag along and we enjoyed a fun social afternoon relaxing at cabins they have at Halfmoon Bay. It was a beautiful afternoon to enjoy the view of the water, and a great continuation to a very social day, getting to know new people.

So if you can't tell, this was an awesome day and I had a blast. You still wondering why I do this event every year? :)

And check out this sweet bling:


  1. Love this! What a cool experience. It sounds like you got to both cheer on the race (which is always fun and a neat perspective) AND also race it. I ran Around the Bay for the 2nd time this year and its amazing what familiarity with the course does to confidence and visualization towards the finish. Congrats on an awesome run and I can't wait to join you next year!

  2. Thanks Monica! It was indeed a great time :) I love being a race veteran and knowing it so well. Hope to do the half again next time if I can!