This Saturday, August 23, is the SeaWheeze Half in Vancouver, BC. It will be the third year of this race, and the third time I’ve run it.
The SeaWheeze is a running, yoga, and music festival sponsored and organized by Lululemon. The inaugural race in 2012 had around 7,000 runners and this year there will be more than 10,000.
The SeaWheeze’s course forms a loop around downtown Vancouver, hitting several neighborhoods (Chinatown, Kitsilano, and English Bay) and glorious views in the process. Possibly due to those stunning views and already-legendary swag, runners come from all around the world to participate. It’s quickly becoming the Canadian version of the Nike Women’s Marathon.
Even though it’s reached an international profile, the SeaWheeze is a quirky race. For example, there are no bibs (those would ruin photos of the colorful outfits from the sponsoring brand), and it’s not a certified course. However, it is chip-timed, literally: founder Chip Wilson’s face is emblazoned on every last chip.
What: The Lululemon SeaWheeze, a half-marathon, yoga, and music festival featuring a concert by Capital Cities.
When: Saturday, August 23, 2014, at 7:00 a.m.
Where: The course starts and ends near the Vancouver Convention Centre (note the Canadian/British English spelling because I am veddy prop-ah).
Registration: The 2014 SeaWheeze sold out in record time last winter. If you want to run it next year, check out the event website or follow it on Twitter.
Why You Should Run this Race:
It’s beautiful. The SeaWheeze course forms a scenic loop around one of North America’s prettiest cities, Vancouver, BC. Downtown Vancouver is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, and the course takes you around the peninsula.
The course elevation. The course itself is fairly flat, with only a few noticeable hills: the climb up to the Burrard Bridge (both ways) and a small, short incline in Stanley Park.
Vancouver is a city worth visiting. You can go to Vancouver without running the SeaWheeze, of course, and you should if given the chance. But running the SeaWheeze is just another (good) excuse to go to Vancouver, which is the third largest city in Canada, surrounded by gorgeous and accessible nature, and extremely cosmopolitan and international. There are incredible restaurants–from regional coastal cuisine to authentic izakayas to the best Cantonese food outside of Hong Kong. The people are friendly. It boasts a wonderful market on Granville Island where you can buy unpasteurized cheese, Montreal-style bagels, and French pastries. And have I mentioned the food?
Course support is enthusiastic and unique. In addition to friends-and-family-types cheering along the course, there are pockets of excitable (and costumed) Lulu-heads to provide extra cheer.
Swag. This is a major draw for many for this race, and with good reason. In 2012, swag included limited edition SeaWheeze shorts for training, a spike bag, Native flip-flops (love these, still wear them), and a keychain medal.
In 2013, race goodies included redesigned training shorts, a canvas bag, Skullcandy headphones (also loved them… till my cat ate them), a travel aromatherapy kit, and a wooden locket medal. The limited edition shorts themselves are incentive enough for some people to register for the race, as you’ll find the SeaWheeze training shorts selling on Ebay for well above what market value would be ($54) if the shorts could be purchased at a store… which is a little suspect, if you ask me.
You want to see this band live:
This factor may also fall under the “Things to Consider” category below, depending on how sick you are of “Safe and Sound” being played on endless rotation over the radio airwaves this summer.
Things to Consider:
You won’t be able to escape the brand. Be prepared to drink the Kool-Aid–or at least have it shoved in your face. Umm…see the girls in yellow and red above, and the guy in the lime-green unitard? To be that committed to the SeaWheeze/Lululemon cause, don’t you think they kinda had to drink the Lulu Kool-Aid? That level of rah-rah spirit about the brand is everywhere, which is a little hard to take anyway, but especially for someone like me who doesn’t have a thigh gap. I’m not a huge fan of the brand, so this is just my opinion, but the Lulu-ness of the 2013 event was a bit much.
Don’t expect a PR. Despite its straightforward elevation profile, the SeaWheeze isn’t a great race to PR for a few reasons. There are several tight spots in the course, including the first mile and the mile or so through Kitsilano. It’s almost impossible to run the tangents throughout the race because of this, and also because the Seawall follows the rippled contour of the shore. Also, the race is actually longer than 13.1 miles. In 2012 and 2013, my Garmin showed that I ran around 13.3 and 13.4 miles.
No pictures. No bib = no pictures.
The registration fee is expensive. This year’s registration fee was $128 CAD, which is roughly $115 USD. Many grumble about this price, but it’s fairly comparable to the cost of Rock ‘n’ Roll races, and you get much better swag than at RNR.
Have you run the SeaWheeze? Do you want to?