By Christine Blanchette
On Sunday, May 4th, the Vancouver downtown streets, and its surrounding 12 neighborhoods will be alive with the sights and sounds of thousands of runners participating in the 43rd annual BMO Vancouver International Marathon.
It is Canada’s spring marathon with the many cherry blossoms and the smell of the ocean with the surrounding mountains serving as a backdrop welcoming the runners on race day.
The Vancouver Marathon is regarded as Canada’s most scenic running event as runners past through beaches, parks, and eclectic neighborhoods. Many spectators will be lining the streets despite the weather cheering on the runners as they make their way to the finish line. In addition it is one of the world’s most “exotic” marathons by CNN Travel and named a Top 10 Destination Marathon by Forbes magazine.
Yesterday, (April 30th) according to the Vancouver International Marathon Society, there will be roughly 5,000 in the full, 10,000 in the half and 2000 in the 8k event. As a Boston qualifier course the marathon has attracted many locals and elites to run the course.
Over 90 elite athletes are confirmed to participate in the BMO Vancouver Marathon, bringing some of last year’s winners as well as new local and international competitors. With 31 Marathon and 61 Half Marathon elite athletes, the 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon welcomes top runners from over 10 countries to compete on May 4th.
If you are not ready to run the full or half there is the popular 8km course which starts in Stanley Park. Celebrating this year will be the half marathon’s 25th anniversary. The full and half will start on Midlothian Avenue in Queen Elizabeth Park and finish on West Pender Street (between Bute St. and Thurlow St.) All runners will finish downtown and there will be a street festival that you will want to check out.
This year the Vancouver Marathon has launched a Legacy Runners Club that recognizes returning participants. Runners who have completed in the event 15, 20 or 25 times since the inaugural race in 1972 will receive unique race week perks including specialized bibs. This added program will not only continue to honour dedicated and loyal runners, but will inspire participants to work towards a goal, with new members joining the Legacy Club each year.
The Health, Sports and Lifestyle Expo will take place during Marathon weekend on May 1-3. The Expo is located at Canada Place in the Vancouver Convention Centre.