By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 28 June 2016)
Description: The Vancouver Scotiabank half marathon (21 kilometers/13 miles), held each year in June, runs from the University of British Columbia along beautiful tree-lined and beach-side roads and over the Burrard Bridge to Stanley Park. For those who don’t want to run that far, there is also a 5 kilometer option. Many runners do this event as part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. The Vancouver Scotiabank Charity Challenge raised more than $860,000 for 81 local charities this year (nationally, the event has raised approximately $50 million for charity since it was started in 2003). I did the half marathon as a member of Team VOKRA, which raised more than $12,000.
Time: The best time for the half marathon was a blazing 1:07:03. The slowest time for a finisher was 3:45:00. Of the more than 4,200 registrants, 3,481 completed the race. There were also nearly 2,000 registered for the sold out 5 kilometer race. The fastest 5 kilometer racer came in at 17:07 minutes, and the slowest at 1:39:43.
Cost: The price for the half marathon ranges from $75 to $125, depending on how early you register (the earlier, the cheaper). 5k prices range from $42.50 to $50.
Difficulty: This course was hilly in places, but although the hills were often long, they were never steep, and the whole thing was run on wide paved roads.
Required Equipment: Running shoes, comfortable running clothes, water (there are aid stations, but bringing your own water is always a good idea), carbohydrate gels or snacks, sunglasses
- It’s a beautiful course, run on roads that pass through forest, alongside a string of beaches with lovely ocean views, and over the Burrard Bridge, with great overviews of the city and the Burrard inlet.
- The entire course is run over wide roads, so there are no significant bottlenecks and it’s easy to get past slower people.
- Because this is a major event, there are pace bunnies and plenty of aid stations.
- There are lots of friendly, enthusiastic volunteers, bands at intervals along the course (including a troop of young bagpipers this year), and people along the roadsides cheering us on.
- Unlike trail races where a moment of inattention can lead to disaster, this is a road race, so you can wear headphones if you want to relax and listen to music.
- You get a good quality shirt and finisher medal.
- There’s a strong emphasis on raising money for charity.
- Package pickup is at an easy-to-access central downtown location (I’ve done a couple of events where getting to or even just finding the package pickup location was a huge ordeal).
- Like all large events that require significant support and road closures, this one is pricier than the smaller-scale local races.
- The organizers provided only about one-fifth of the portajohns that were needed at the race start. Runners had to join the race late because of the ridiculous lineups and they were even lining up to pee in a small stand of bushes near the start. When people have to line up to pee in a bush, that’s a pretty strong indicator that the organizers aren’t meeting the needs of their racers. There were more than 6,000 people attending the event (plus all those who came down to see them off over the start line); I hope they provide more facilities in the future.
- The 5 kilometer race sold out weeks before the actual event, and the half-marathon looked quite close to capacity, so register early not only to save money, but also to ensure that you get a spot, as this is a very popular event.
- If you’re getting a ride to the start, allow plenty of time for traffic and finding parking (you probably won’t be able to park anywhere near the start line).
See the Scotiabank Half Marathon and 5K page for more information.
For more great running events in BC, see the main Activities page.
*Conditions, routes, and prices may have changed since the time of this writing.