Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sun Run 2007

I went to the doctor, and guess what she told me (guess what she told me)
She said, boy u better try the sun run
No matter what you'll do
Or you're a fool

Actually, that's not what happened at all. I went to see the doctor a couple of months ago and she told me that, given the state of my right ankle, I'd be better off just giving up contact/high impact sports like soccer and running altogether - forever.

So with ironclad reasoning, I figured that meant I should do the Sun Run this year. After all, if the doctor was wrong, I had nothing to worry about. And if she was right, this might be the last chance I get - especially since I don't intend to give up playing soccer until I really have no option.

Which all amounts to a circuitous way of saying that I ran the Sun Run yesterday morning.


Background information (those who know the Sun Run can skip this):

The Sun Run is an annual 10k run which takes place every April in Vancouver. This year ~55,000 people* took part in the run which starts off downtown, heads West and downhill to Stanley Park, then back East along English bay, over the Burrard Bridge, East along 2nd/4th/6th avenues and back over the Cambie bridge. It is a staggered start with the blues (expected time less than 40 minutes) going first, followed by the Yellows (under 50 minutes), Greens (under 60 minutes), Whites (under 70 minutes) and then Purples and Reds (walkers). You sign up for a colour based on your expected time and then the zones/pens for each group fill up on race morning as people arrive. I started near the back of the white group, and got to the start line at 9:42 (the first group started at 9:00 and were finished before I started - each runner has a chip they wear on their show which automatically times your run so it doesn't really matter when you start.


Never having run 10k before, and not being sure how well my ankle would hold up, I went out fairly slowly (with all the congestion on the route, I was forced into a half run/half walk a few times in the first few km and it would have been tough to go much faster anyway) and I reached the halfway point in around 32 minutes or so. I was feeling pretty good and the ankle was feeling OK so I stepped up the pace in the second half, started weaving (even more than before) and managed to do the second half in about 26 minutes, finishing in 58:22 (don't recall my placing but I think it was around the 80th percentile), which seemed OK, given that I'm not much of a runner (I did about half a dozen 'training runs', running from 3km up to 8km) once every week or two over the last couple of months). It would definitely be worthwhile to do the full distance ahead of time at least once, as I could tell over the last couple of km that my body wasn't used to going more than 8k. I'd say that the lungs, legs and ankle were all ready to give out at the finish line, so I'd characterize it as an efficient use of my physical resources, if nothing else (and yes, I did do a degree in Optimization, why do you ask?)

I think if I try it again next year (if the ankle holds up), I'll enter the Green group which should minimize the variance between my pace and the pace of those around me (in turn minimizing the amount of weaving required, one hopes.)

The whole race was surprisingly fun, actually. The weather was perfect which helped. It's too bad you can't really enjoy the view because the route is just so crowded, but I've seen that view before lots of times. It's definitely a very different experience running in such a crowd, with an eclectic collection of musical performers and cheering people along the route vs. running on your own as is my normal wont.

* All the race propoganda says the Sun Run is the largest 10k run in Canada and the 2nd largest 10k run in North America - anyone know the largest one? - google is no help as a search for 'largest 10k run america' only turns up references to the Sun Run. Why would the Americans be running km anyway?

Opening stanza adapted from this song for those who don't listen to pop music, have bad memories or just plain missed 1990 somehow.

Update: Here's a recap from Sacha (from the blog Double Blind) who ran last year as well and who managed to finish slightly fast than me despite what I consider an inefficient (although I'm sure he'd disagree!) strategy of alternating walking and running and here's another recap from someone I don't know from eve but who recaps the event much more eloquently and graphically (i.e. pictures) than I did.


  • I can't say much about the 10km bit, but the largest 10k race in North America is apparently the Peachtree 10km... just look at the Wikipedia entry for the Vancouver Sun Run.

    Still, when looking at the Peachtree event, it doesn't look like that all participants are timed, so the Vancouver Sun Run can likely claim credit for having the most number of timed people?

    By Blogger Sacha, at 11:44 PM  

  • Thanks Sacha. I looked at that entry, but skipped right by the relevant paragraph. Supposedly the Peachtree had 55k last year, so perhaps the Sun Run is closing in.

    I like the Peachtree idea of having a t-shirt that only those who finish under a certain time can get. That would/could be a good motivator.

    By Blogger Declan, at 12:27 AM  

  • something pretty surreal happened to my aunt at the sun run. gordo campbell mistook her for someone he knew and was all "hey, how are you doing" ... yeah.

    and they gotta give out better powerbars next year, those 'chocolate' ones taste like arse.

    By Blogger ainge lotusland, at 5:14 AM  

  • Although it's 12K the Bay to Breakers is a bigger in terms of participation.

    And while the Sun Run route is slightly more scenic, I far and way prefer the finish line area of the B2B which is the western edge of Golden Gate Park at Ocean Beach (vs. the grey'e confines of that stinking mushroom).

    How's that ankle now, btw, a week later?

    By Blogger RossK, at 9:06 PM  

  • Ainge - perhaps your Aunt is a big Gordo fan and just didn't want you to find out. As for 'better powerbars,' isn't that an oxymoron?

    Nice profile pic btw, although I do recommend checking yourself out for jaundice.

    Gaz - The ankle is fine (as fine as it gets, at any rate) - thanks for asking. I actually thought the finish line was right at the far side of the Cambie bridge (which would have been nicer), so it was disheartening to get to the crest of the bridge in the middle of my 'finishing kick' and see no finish line in sight. Finishing by the ocean does sound nicer, although that extra 2k doesn't seem very appealing!

    On the plus side, I suspect the stinking mushroom won't long survive the Olympics. Given that the housing market should be in the dumps by then it's hard to know what will replace it (another stadium perhaps), but it's hard to think they could do worse than the current occupant.

    By Blogger Declan, at 9:41 PM  

  • Housing market in the dumps?

    Sheesh - should we get liquid right now?


    By Blogger RossK, at 10:51 AM  

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