Monday, May 4, 2009

A long and rewarding day - the story of two runners and a bunch of great people - the Vancouver Marathon May 3, 2009 report


May 3, 2009 is Vancouver Marathon Race day in Vancouver - for the past 5 weeks a number of us have done 10 training rides and one full course ride for a total of about 260KM's of cycling getting to know the course, our riding mates, our race day responsibilities and our communications skills.

Special thanks to Brian Smith once again for his great leadership in assembling a great crew this year and to John Christie the Captain of the Full Marathon team for trusting me with an important role this year - more on that below.

This is the front side of our T-Shirts for this year - a simple cotton T with the corporate logo and our job - CREW.

Below is the remainder of my story.

Pre-race checkin and equipment pick up:

Our final race preparations take place the day before the race as we have to pick up all of the gear that is needed for our job as Bike Escort team - because of interior renovations to BC Place Stadium they are using a make shift tent city at Concord Pacific's site on False Creek - we are supply with our T-shirts, safety vests, lunch for Sunday, a flag or pennant which we will mount on our bikes - they show the duties that each of us is assigned - mine will say FULL MARATHON COURSE TEAM - we are to "decorate" our bikes before we leave as Brian doesn't want to have to worry about that on Sunday morning.

The final piece of equipment is ensuring that everyone has a properly working radio and for some of us a spare battery. The other Dennis on the team has once again done a good job ensuring that all of the radios do in fact work.

Sofie and couple of other team members put together our kits for us - they have arrived and now we can start the process of getting our bikes ready.

My bike is the gold colored one seen here with its flag attached.


While we don't have to show up too early - really only a short time before the event that we are working starts most of us were there by 6AM - that's when the first group of slow runners and walkers leave and then at 7AM - its the Half Marathon which is the biggest group of about 9000 runners, followed by the Wheelchair division and finally the full marathon group at 7:30AM

Here we are awaiting for our groups to start.


As the full group heads out we follow them and ride with them as they start to open up distances between themselves - I am a little way back when I hear a call on the radio that riders were needed up front for some of the lead runners - As my job is to ride with the leaders I quickly pick up speed and pick up a runner in a red shirt - I didn't know it at first but he was the second place runner - my job now was to ensure safe passage and no wrong turns etc - to make sure that the water stations have - in his case - Gatorade available- and that the water station crew are standing on both sides of the course - this wasn't happening early on until I was notified by another team member - I then made sure that as he approached each water station that they were prepared - The only time Adam talked to me was on the Burrard Bridge near the finish when he asked if I could see the next runner behind him and the answer was no but to be sure I radioed the crew for an update - he had it appeared about a 30 second lead and never fell back - he sailed through Stanley Park but along Pacific I needed to get the other groups who share this part of the course to moved over that a lead runner was coming through - they cheerfully moved over and cheered Adam as he ran pass them - clear sailing over the Bridge and along Cornall and Point Grey Road to the turn around point near West Point Grey Academy on 4th - coming back along Cornwall we had the usual idiots in there spandex riding there $5000 bikes on a closed street and giving me the finger for telling them to get the hell off the course.

Fortunately no incidents occurred to hurt Adam's running.

Back over the Bridge and along Pacific where we once again had some of the 1/2 marathon runners to pass - no problem and then he entered the finish area about 2 hour and 40 minutes after he started.

Adam it was a pleasure to have escorted you on your run.


Once the first runners have crossed the finish line some of us are given a time out to go for our no-host brunch at Milestones on English Bay - unlike the scene at Ricky's this restaurant was prepared for us and was able to serve us promptly and correctly.

Once we are finished we then head out and relieive the remainder of the crew.

Here you see our bikes all decorated and parked outside Milestone's.


I was assigned to start the sweep in the downtown zones when I heard on the Radio that they needed help with one of the last runners on the course - this is nothing new expect it wasn't Lucy that we were helping along the way - on the Burrard Bridge was runner #381 - never did get his name who was lagging behind - seems his problem was new shoes and yes they looked new - not being porperly broken in and aching and making his feet sore so that he couldn't really run - at this point he is the last runner on the full marathon course - this year they are enforcing a 2PM and your on your own - so he was walking - at this point here are many km's to still go but he was persistent that he wasn't a quitter - other than ensuring that he was either on the closed road or a sidewalk and re-assuring the para-medics that his slowness was caused by his shoes and not some medical concern we finally arrived at the turn around point except that he wasn't there - well he was but we didn't see him go into the biffy so we had an anxious moment until he surfaced refreshed.

By this time I was continuing to update to course officials on his location - if he wasn't at a certain point he would have to abandon his effort - well he made it on time but when given the option of doing the entire Kits Point Loop and not finishing or heading straight for the Burrard Bridge and the finish line he opted for the latter - so it was over the Bridge, along Pacific and then he jogged across the finished - he did say to me that he wouldn't have finished if I hadn't urged him on.

While he was last for the longest time he was the second last across the line as the person in front of him did the Kits Point Loop and came in just behind him with 3 minutes to spare.

So in the course of my day - I helped the 2nd place finished over all and the second last finisher.

Once the last runner crossed the finish line many of us bikers did a short victory ride and recieved a nice round of applause from the spectators.


Thanks to Jordan - race day operations guru we had a couple of small kegs of beer for an after party in the Volunteer tent - here you see Alain and Gordon unloading the liquid amber.

Beer expert and Bike Escort Captain Brian putting in the portable taps so that we could enjoy a few cools ones - there was both an ale and a lager - lot's of snacks as well. While tired it was nice to know that our efforts were appreciated - about half of our crew were new this year - most indicated that they might be back next year.

Finally just how much cycling did I do today - here's the story from my odometer on my bike - this includes the short ride from my condo to the race start.

By the time that I had finished my role I had done over 70Km's or 42 miles on the bike - perhaps that is why I am sluggish on Monday and don't have a lot of energy but did find the time to post this blog