Latest reviews by Jeannine Avelino

(2017)
"My first local marathon!"
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For my full race recap with photos, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/05/bmo-vancouver-marathon-2017/

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is by no means easy unless you're a hill fanatic. The first 30 km involves some long inclines flowing into long downhills and 3 significant hills: Camosun (1km and steep), NW Marine Drive to west 4th (not as long and steep as Camosun but it hurts), and the Burrard Bridge. If you can get past all that, everything after the Burrard Bridge is flat, but it turns into a mental game. The Stanley Park seawall is long and beautiful but tough since the only way to get out is to follow the path. The race then ends with a 500 m slight incline to the finish so save some energy for that. The course takes you through Vancouver's prettiest neighbourhoods and if you're lucky and Mother Nature is on your side, you will be blessed with fantastic running weather and the best views. We were lucky this year.

The race is well-organized and prepare to spend at the Expo. There are lots of vendors and specials that I couldn't come out with just one item. My favourite this year is the custom New Balance shirt with Vancouver 42.2 decal.They treat runners well. Transportation shouldn't be a problem, they give all runners a one-time use transit pass to get to the start line and even offer shuttles for those living in the suburbs. The medal this year is beautiful, my favourite so far and I've run this event 2 other times (both the half marathon). There's often lots of people cheering and aid stations are plentiful. Washrooms were also not a problem, there were tons at the start and at every aid station. I just wish they had bananas at more than 1 aid station. I missed it and that's when I needed them the most. It was at the 31k mark. At the finish, lots of volunteers were there giving me food, water, anything basically. I made a bee-line to the nearest restaurant but I heard there were free massages and I saw the recovery area with yoga mats and foam rollers.

This is definitely a must-do race. I'll most likely be back next year but for what distance, I'm not sure yet.

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(2017)
"Hope you like to get your feet wet!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For the full race recap, visit my blog post here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/06/race-recap-5-peaks-golden-ears/

I attended Golden Ears Race 2 in May as a spectator and ran it in June when the usual Race 3 venue was not safe to use. Race organizers scrambled and used the Golden Ears venue and routes again so the event won't be cancelled. I thought they did a great job of handling this by letting us know via email and Facebook well ahead of time what the new plans are. They even added extra prizes for most improved time, which was great. The venue is about an hour away from Vancouver so I recommend having access to a car or carpooling to get there. It's not transit-friendly.

As a spectator and runner, the 5 Peaks races don't disappoint. I ran the shorter Sport Course which was around 8 km. The trails are beginner-friendly but still challenging. Lots of single and double track with water crossings. Hope you like to get your feet wet! There's also a steep climb but all that hard work will be paid off by this amazing waterfall at the top. Once you reach that, it's time to descend the mountain but watch out for that final gradual incline heading back to the finish line. It doesn't look like much but on tired legs, it hurts. The volunteers are excellent, the course is well-marked, and there were lots of post-race snacks to refuel. Don't forget to check the prize table, your name could've been drawn. 5 Peaks swag is always good, this time we got a pair of Swiftwick socks. As usual there is a talented photographer there (Rob Shaer) who captured amazing photos and half his net sales this series will be going towards local search and rescue groups. Always happy to support that cause.

Definitely a must-do if you're looking into trail running!

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(2017)
"You get so much from this race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For the full recap, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/05/race-recap-run-for-women/

The Course

Runners can sign up for a 5k or 10k course. It starts at Wesbrook Village in UBC (accessible by car or bus) and heads into nearby Pacific Spirit Park, so it’s a mix of road and trail… but mostly trail. It is a beginner-friendly course as it’s mostly packed gravel with minimal tree roots. You do not need trail runners for this race. There seemed to be a significant amount of downhill which made it a blast to run and the uphills weren't completely awful. Definitely a fun course.

Package Pickup and Swag

This is where the Run for Women impressed me. I picked up my race package at the Denman Running Room and it included a t-shirt, a coupon book for Wesbrook Village (with pretty decent deals) and a 25% discount at Running Room for all runners. On race day, package pickup was still available as well as gear check. After the race, runners were treated to a Shoppers Drug tote bag filled to the brim with $100 worth of items like moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, chocolate, and various other products! This is the most swag I've ever gotten from a race. There was also a pancake breakfast. Race entry costs average $50 so you definitely get a big bang for your buck. In addition, this event raises awareness about mental health and benefits the local hospital's mental health initiatives. I would definitely run this race again.

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(2017)
"If you like steep, technical descents, this is your race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
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For a full recap, visit my blog: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/04/race-recap-5-peaks-alice-lake-2017/

5 Peaks delivers a great race with a great course, excellent volunteers (thank you), useful swag, and just an overall amazing vibe. It brings together a community of supportive, yet competitive runners. 5 Peaks Alice Lake is well-run with great communication. There was a risk of course changes due to snow and ice but they informed us ahead of time. They had a great idea with the shuttle service. For $25/person you get a roundtrip ride from downtown Vancouver to Alice Lake Provincial Park. Parking is very limited so the shuttle service allowed more people to register without using up more real estate. 5 Peaks Alice Lake has nice swag as usual. This race gave out gloves and for the first time (that I know of), they made you work for it. We got the gloves after we crossed the finish line. This race is one of the more popular ones in the series so it sold out quite quickly.

5 Peaks races usually have 2 distances: Sport (5-8ish km) and Enduro (10-13km). I completed the sport. It was a gradual, undulating climb with a long, steep, technical descent on Credit Line trail (one of the premier descents in Squamish). It finishes with about a mile of climbing before you hit the finish line. Newbies, take care on this trail. Credit Line has steep sections and it could be slippery if the weather is awful. I wasn't comfortable but I managed to come out unscathed. Most people were having a blast flying down the mountain though. Despite that, I still recommend this race. It says a lot when I still recommend a race even though I was scared for half of it lol.

Attached photo is by 5 Peaks race photographer, Rob Shaer, who is generously donating 50% of this season's net photo sales to local search and rescue groups. A wonderful way to give back to those who put their lives on the line to save others.

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(2017)
"Same as usual but the t-shirt is better this year!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Visit my blog for the full recap: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/04/race-recap-vancouver-sun-run-2017/

I received a Vancouver Sun Run entry through work so I didn't have to pick up my race package. We received a tech shirt once again. I liked it a lot better than last year's. The colour combination is nicer than last year's and I love how light and airy it feels, which helped keep me cool during the race. I still went to the Sun Run Fair at BC Place to do a little bit of pre-race shopping (a new Addaday Type C roller). Brands like Asics, Brooks, Hoka One One, On, and others were there as well in case you wanted to try out some new shoes. New local brand RYU was also there to give runners a look at their apparel.

The Vancouver Sun Run course hasn't changed for years. This course takes you through the West End, over the Burrard Bridge, Fairview, and over the Cambie Bridge until BC Place. It's a nice mix of downhill and uphill. Perhaps the flattest and more boring section is between the two bridges, mostly because you don't really get a view. The most challenging part might be the surprise hill leading up to Pacific and the Burrard Bridge. It's a block and a half long, steep, and lots of people stop to walk on it. Not only will you be dodging people, you will also be slogging it up there and then keep going uphill over the bridge, making it quite an ordeal. There is a wave start. We were in the green corral and we finally started at 9:30 (the race began at 9).

Normally I don't go to BC Place after the Sun Run because it's a bit of a gong show. This year we went in and it was a madhouse. Thousands of people descended towards the centre of BC Place to grab some post-run food like bagels, juice, and bananas... not to mention the free boxes of Catelli pasta.If you don't like crowds, don't go, it's more pleasant to find other brunch options in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

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