The BMO Vancouver Marathon was the best possible way I could think of to celebrate moving back to Vancouver. The fact that I moved just eight days before the race, was able to catch up with a ton of friends made it a very special homecoming. That I won the marathon made it all unforgettable.
OK, so I’m an ultra runner who mostly runs on trails. But, I do love to road run too, and it was simply too much to resist to not run the BMO Vancouver Marathon.
It possibly was not the best move as I really need to be getting long trail runs to prep for Western States 100 miler in June. But, Vancouver’s new point-to-point route is scenically stunning. Overall, I highly recommend this as a great destination marathon.
The weather was perfect, cool and sunny, ideal for my Sundog Eyewear Dialed Mela-Lens™ sunglasses. When racing it is important to keep as relaxed as possible and being able to clearly see the trail or road ahead without squinting or straining my eyes plays a huge part. In brilliant sunshine, high-quality eye protection is a must. My Sundogs are lightweight, with great lens, and feel like I am not wearing them.
It was lots of fun running through the various Vancouver neighbourhoods, each with memories of run groups I’ve run with over the years. UBC & Kits for Forerunners, Burrard Bridge for PRR, and the Stanley Park seawall for Vancouver Falcons.
I had no expectation to win and was surprised even when I first heard I was in 3rd place, having expected to be in about 5th. When a spectator called out I was in 2nd I corrected them and said I was in 3rd. But, they were right, as 2nd place female had dropped out. I still didn’t expect to win, thinking 1st place would be miles ahead. But, I saw her at about 12 km to go and my friend Katherine Moore shouted at me to go catch her. (Thanks for the encouragement Kat!) This was an awesome way to run – no pressure, no expectations – until 12 kms to go when I hauled as hard as I could.
It took me until about 7 km to go to take the lead. I would try but Mary Akor would take the inside bend tight forcing me out to run wide and lose distance. She would also surge so much I knew I couldn’t keep up at that surging pace. But, I heard her breathing much harder than me and at 7 km to go and on about the 10th surge I cracked it and passed her. I made a decisive split to try to build a lead. I knew my ‘ultra’ legs would not be up for a sprint on the final stretch so I needed to make a move and make a gap now. I felt pretty gutsy going past Mary who is an Olympic Trials qualifier with a PB around 2:37, but I kept my cool and was thinking elite strategy I’ve listened to on Marathon Talk pod cast (thanks for the tips Martin & Tom!)
Once in the lead, I just wanted to get to my PRR buddies who were manning a water station at Lumberman’s Arch. It was a mini goal before the finish line and I needed some cheering as much as some Gatorade (thanks guys). I was counting each and every km marker at this point.
For the final 12 kms or so, I only looked at my pace on my Garmin about once. Sometimes it’s not about your time, but more about your position. Once I knew it was possible I could win this race, I so wanted to. I thought that it’d be a pretty cool homecoming….and it was.
Thank you so much to everyone at the BMO Vancouver Marathon and all the great volunteers who gave up their weekend to make this event happen – 15,000 runners can be pretty demanding! Big thanks also to Lynn Kanuka (Elite coordinator) and Jordan Myers (RD) for all your hard work, making the BMO Vancouver Marathon such a great event. But, biggest thank you of all to all my friends – so great to see you all again.
Bio: Ellie Greenwood, Sundog Eyewear Brand Ambassador
Date of Birth: March 14, 1979
Place of Birth: Dundee, Scotland
Current Home town: North Vancouver,BC
Primary Race Distance: Anything from 50km to 100 miles
Other hobbies or sports: Skiing, snowshoeing, travel, writing about running!
Six-word bio… Work hard, run hard, have fun.
What inspires you? Pushing myself to be the best runner I can possibly be, setting new challenge in terms of distances, terrain and speed. My Montrail teammates!
What advice would you give to newcomers to (your sport) today? Find some buddies to share the trails with and go have fun. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced trail and ultra runners for advice. Set some goals that will challenge you but work you way up gradually so as to not overwhelm yourself before you are ready for longer and tougher races.
June 2011, Western States 100 miler – 1st place female
Nov 2010, IAU World 100km (Gibraltar) – 1st place female
August 2010, Canadian Death Race (Grande Cache, AB) – 1st place female
Female Ultrarunner of the Year 2011 (voted by Ultrarunning magazine)