The BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Run is a favourite race for many Vancouver area residents, as well as Sunshine Coast locals. The course is a point-to point route that starts in Gibsons and makes its way through a variety of residential streets, country roads and highways to a beachside park in Sechelt.
The event started in 1978, making it one of the regions oldest events. Over the past 3 and a half decades, it has built a strong following, in large part due to the seamless organization, an enthusiastic cadre of volunteers and the support of the local residents and businesses.
Held on or near April Fools day, the race is definitely not a joke. The route’s combination of long, steady up hills, and steep, fast down hills can play tricks with your mind. Just as you crest one hill, your legs need to be ready to take the pounding of the next descent. However, the course is a net downhill, which results in many personal bests and even a Canadian record or two in some master’s categories.
About the only challenge of the day was finding a way to get to Gibsons. Thankfully, the running community can through and I was able to catch a ride to Horseshoe Bay with fellow running blogger Zahida. We bumped into another blogger Brian Webb on the ferry and compared training stories and race goals on the ride over.
Arriving in Gibsons the race organizers had arranged for ‘old-school’ yellow buses to pick us up at the ferry and deliver us to the start line at the Gibsons Community Centre. Runners’ were able to get changed, use the community centre washrooms and limber up indoors before dropping off our bags. It was great to have The weather turned out to be just about perfect for a run. The morning air was crisp, yet warm enough to wear shorts and short sleeves. It was mainly overcast, with a few sunny breaks throughout the run.
I had no goals for this run. I initially signed up for it because of the reputation of the event, and the opportunity to run a new race. As race day approached, I thought that it would be a good opportunity for a marathon pace training run and to test-drive my marathon fuelling strategy.
My goal was to run the first half at 5:20/km pace and speed up slightly to 5:15/km in the second half. What I didn’t count on was the amount of steep-ish down hills on the course. While I managed to keep my marathon pace on the flats, and even on the uphills—all those hill interval sessions paid off!—I ended up banking a lot of time on the downhills. As it turns out, this was enough to earn my a slight PR, with a chip time of 1:48:24, a ten second improvement over my time at the First Half Marathon in February.
After the race, I ran into several familiar faces from the Vancouver running scene, including ultra runner Ellie Greenwood, and a few members of my Cambie Marathoners crew. Just as Zahida and I were ready to catch the bus back to Gibsons, we ran into another runner, Richard Mac, who offered us a ride back with his family.
We were all hungry, so we decided to stop for lunch—and a post race beer—at the iconic Molly’s Reach. Afterwards we caught the ferry back to the Horseshoe Bay, where we ran into other fellow runners who gave us a ride back to Vancouver.
I have written before about how running is a team sport. The April Fool’s Run is a perfect example of this. From the great group of organizers who put on the event, to the generosity of my fellow runners who helped me get to the start line and back home, and the familiar faces of fellow runners; the event was a true community event, by every definition of the word.
I also want to note that the run is also one of the best running deals around. Early registration cost only $25, so even with the added costs of the ferry and transportation, it still is a very affordable event.
All in all, a great day that epitomized what running is all about. This was my first time running this arc, but it won’t be my last!
Time (gun/chip): 1:48:48/1:48:24
Pace (min. per km): 5:09
Final Sprint (30m): 0:09:30
Male 30-39: 28/56