Valley GranFondo: Race Review

Promising long stretches of rolling hills and just a few tough climbs, the 2014 Valley GranFondo was the perfect race for my first cycling event of the season. 

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Selecting the MedioFondo length in preparation for the Whistler GranFondo in September, our route ventured throughout Fort Langley and Aldergrove for a grand total of 88KM. 

Below is a race review of this charity event. 

Pre-Event Communication 

Simple, easy. Just a few emails prior to the event. 

Package Pick-up

Yikes! Package pick-up was only available for six hours on Saturday, the day prior to the race. I had to make arrangements to pick-up my package on race day. More dates/times are certainly needed. 

Course

The route promised rolling hills and a few climbs - and that it was. The course was well directed and the rest stops were great. There were three rest stops throughout the medio-course - I hopped off my bike at the second stop, fuelling on electrolytes. There were plenty of hydration and nutrition options available. 

With that said, there were many potholes on the course that were passed. Some cyclists were unlucky - I cycled by four ambulances in the 88KM stretch. It would have been great to see the city and race committee work together to remedy this. 

In addition, distances were not marked. This was the first race I took part in where I wasn’t exactly sure where I was - with no kilometre marks, it was a guess how fast I was going. 

Finish Line

The finish line is always a great sight to see. With a sharp left turn before ending the race, the finish was exciting for all participants. The best part? Red Racer sponsored a great beer garden. 

OVERALL: 7/10. 

Whistler Half Marathon: Race Review

I love destination races. Although the idea of waking up in your own bed on the morning of a race is appealing, there’s something about driving or flying to a new town or city to explore unfamiliar areas. 

Although I’ve spent the better part of my 20+ years in Whistler for weekend trips and get-aways, I’ve never hit the pavement for 21.1KM in this scenic resort town of British Columbia. 

Suffice to say, this course was far different from than of Abbotsford - and was possibly one of the most challenging courses I’ve faced. 

Pre-Event Communication 

+1 for communication. Plenty of information, including training and nutrition tips and tricks, was shared before the event. 

Package Pick-up

As I was arriving late in Whistler, I didn’t have an opportunity to pick-up my own race package. 

Course

Honey, we’re not in Kansas anymore. 

This course was tough. With some pretty intense hills for the first 4 miles through residential areas, I realized that I should have focused much more on hill training. Though I gained speed and made up for lost time on the downhill portions, it seemed we were all challenged with those first few miles. 

Once we hit the flat stretches of the golf courses, it was clear sailing. The weather was perfect and there were cheer stations at every turn. Best part? The scenery. From the hills of residential areas to the beauty of running through two incredible courses, it was easy to become distracted. 

Only critique - I would have loved a few more aid stations on the course. It was a warm day!  

Finish Line

So fantastic. We finished right in the village, which made for great photos and plenty of crowds.  

OVERALL: 9.0/10. I would absolutely participate again. More aid stations, please! 

Abbotsford Run for Water: Race Review

$250,000. That’s the grand total the Abbotsford Run for Water raised on May 25 to help develop clean water sources in Ethiopia. 

With 4500 runners participating in ultra, full, half, 10KM and 5KM routes, it’s no surprise this race saw over 4500 runners hit the streets of Abbotsford to help support such a worthy cause. 

The half marathon route promised a flat course, and flat it was. Check out this elevation chart:

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Although the rain started to absolutely pour around the 13KM mark, spirits were high amongst the 552 half-marathon runners. 

Below is a race review of this charity event. 

Pre-Event Communication 

Communication was excellent before the event. With just a few emails leading up to race day, everything we needed was included in all correspondence - maps, package pick-up, road closures, etc. 

Package Pick-up

This was probably the quickest package pick-up I’ve ever been part of. With the smiling faces of volunteers greeting runners, I was in and out of the pick-up location in less than 5 minutes. Easy as pie. 

Course

My favourite part. We started at Centennial Park and entered into a gradual down-hill for the first 3KM. From there, it was a lengthy stretch on Riverside Rd. in the industrial and farmlands of Abbotsford as we headed to a turn-around point at Whatcom Rd. 

Despite being caught in a rainstorm after the half-way mark, I was having so much fun with this route that my body essentially turned to auto-pilot. The course was designed in such a way that every step felt like we were entering a brand new area of the Valley - from parks to industrial to farmland - with supporters and volunteers at five different aid stations. 

Finish Line

As this course was an out-and-back, we faced that 3KM steady incline on the way back to the finish line. At this point we had already joined up with the 10KM runners, which made for a busy finish. 10KM/5KM runners were separated from the half- and full-marathon runners at the finish line - something I appreciated.

OVERALL: 9.5/10. I would absolutely participate again. 

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The DOS and DON’TS of Carbo-Loading

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Fun topic, isn’t it? 

I recently wrote a post on the The DOS and DON’TS of Carbo-Loading for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Vancouver Half Marathon and Cunningham Seawall 10K. Read all about it here

If you haven’t signed up for this October event, I’m very excited to offer a discount on registration. See below for the codes and register here

Code: NICOLERUNSVAN (half marathon - $10 off)
Code: NICOLERUNSVAN10K (10K - $5 off)