Ten thousand runners from both sides of the border descended on Vancouver yesterday for the eighth annual SeaWheeze Half-Marathon, which may be the most breathtakingly beautiful and ridiculously fun half-marathon in the world. After two years in a row of rain, runners got cool, overcast conditions–perfect for local running hero and recently-named Global Run Ambassador for lululemon, Rob Watson, to break the course record, which is exactly what happened. In his first appearance at SeaWheeze, Watson finished in 1:09:47–28 seconds off the previous record of 1:10.15 set by James Lander in 2017.
Watson, who coaches with Mile2Marathon, won the BMO Vancouver Marathon in 2018 and earned the title of Canadian marathon champion in 2013. He has announced he will race the Canadian marathon championships again this year at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 20.
On the women’s side, it was Madelyn Vorgitch, of Simi Valley, California, who took the crown
with a time of 1:20:52, followed by Hannah Koski of Danville, California at 1:21:27 and Sarah
Hutchings of Calgary (the first Canadian woman) at 1:21:54.
Participants got to run 11 of the 21K course along the Pacific Ocean and Vancouver’s seawall, while making their way through some of the city’s best-known neighbourhoods, like Gastown, Kitsilano and Chinatown. They also got to enjoy 23 on-course activations along the route to keep their spirits high. From spin bikes to drag queens, a high-five wall, an indigenous band, the local Vancouver Police Department and a group of mermaids, runners couldn’t go a kilometre without seeing some form of entertainment.
Due to the event’s increase in popularity in recent years, organizers changed the entry to a lottery format to allow for more runners to be given the chance to take part in this weekend-long celebration. Guests who could not make it into the race were invited to join the Virtual SeaWheeze Race on Strava, which enabled them to also receive the same gold spinner finisher medal for completing a half-marathon in their area.
I love @SeaWheeze Half Marathon so much, I took over 1600 photos today! Great scenic racecourse, cheer and aid stations, entertainment and awesome volunteers! https://t.co/VsDtP6jhXO #seawheeze #seawheeze2019 #vancouver #halfmarathon #mermaids #dragqueens pic.twitter.com/p6IDrUfrGP
— Debra Kato (@debrakato) August 18, 2019
Over the years, SeaWheeze has evolved into more than just a running event. Throughout the weekend, they host a series of yoga and meditation classes, vision and goals workshops, ambassador panels, film screenings, live music and more. This year’s post post-race Sunset Festival took place at the Brockton Oval in Stanley Park and included a yoga session with Lululemon Global Yoga Ambassador Baron Baptiste before turning into a full-blown dance party with performances by DJ Kaskade and Big Wild.