By: Matt Setlack

This was my first time racing the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, which took place on Sunday 24 June 2018.

The day before the race, Emily and I drove over the course to ensure we knew all of the turns beforehand. On the morning of the race, I checked the YVR METAR and saw that the winds were 7 knots from the east, which I knew might affect me on the section near Jericho Beach. 

I really like the format of Dayna Pidhoresky's blog posts (Dayna placed 1st in the Scotia Half) so this blog post will follow her format. Dayna's website is

Going into this race, I felt fairly decent. For the two weeks leading into this race, I had been waking up at 2:45 am and running to work at 3 am everyday. There was also a heatwave in Cold Lake, which made it a little challenging sleeping when it was +25C in the house. In any case, getting up this early probably helped me to get up early the morning of the race.

Photo by Debra Kato

Photo by Debra Kato

0-5 km – 16:46

The race started at a fairly decent clip but then seemed to slow down after the first right turn. I found myself in the lead pack and was very surprised that runners were not running the tangents. After the first turn, I literally pointed at the next corner and said, “let’s run the tangents”. Running down Marine Drive was quite relaxed with Kip Kangogo, Tony Tomsich and I in a pretty tight pack. I ran in the front for a bit but then thought it would be more wise to draft off another runner.

Photo by Alan Brookes

Photo by Alan Brookes

While running back Marine Drive (slightly uphill) after the turnaround at about 3km, the lead pack started to space out a little bit. I found myself in 6th as seen in the photo below.

5-10 km – 16:55

At about 5km, there were numerous guys ahead of me and then a couple guys with me. I focused on keeping a decent pace and running the tangents (which, for some reason, nobody in the lead pack chose to do). I would be curious to see their GPS distance for this race compared to mine.

Photo by Debra Kato

Photo by Debra Kato

At km 7, I broke away from the other two guys I was with (in the 2nd pack) and then I was all by myself. I ran by myself for most of the remainder of the race. I focused on closing the gap on Benard who was about 50-100m in front of me.

10-15 km – 16:25

It was around 10km that the course levelled out near the beach. There was a bagpipe band there and I was really impressed by this. I thought I would run the downhills faster than I did. Unfortunately, it felt like I was unintentionally breaking with each foot strike.

15-20 km – 16:26

From km 17 to km 18, the route was a little confusing in a residential neighbourhood. There were several turns and since I had never run this race before (and was completely by myself), I had to yell out to the volunteers on several occasions asking them which way to go.

At km 18 just before the Burrard Street Bridge, I heard Jim Finlayson run up from behind me and then pass me. I could hear him for the past km or two. I used the cheers from the sidelines to gauge my distance. Spectators would cheer for me, then I would count and when I heard the spectators again (cheering for Jim), I would know how many seconds of a lead I had.

I put myself in Jim's head and asked myself, what he must be thinking. When Jim passed me, I thought, “this is a race”. If he is going to beat me, then he is going to have to work for it. There was a gap of about 10-15m between us, with Jim in front. After we crossed the bridge, I was completely focused on catching back up to Jim. It was as if I was possessed. Nothing else mattered. We were going down a slight decline along Pacific Avenue and Jim could definitely hear my breathing and footsteps behind him. He looked behind him several times (likely to see if there was anyone behind me). When I saw the km 20 sign, I passed Jim and ran as hard as I could. I thought Jim was right behind me.

At this point in the race, Kip, Tony and Benard were ahead of me. I thought I was 2nd place Canadian and if Jim finished ahead of me, I would then be in 3rd place Canadian and lose several hundred dollars of prize money. For some reason, I had it in my head (wrongly) that losing one Canadian place would cost me $700 so that really helped me run a lot faster. According to my Strava account, I ran km 19 to 20 in 3:13/km, km 20 to 21 in 3:10/km and the last 220m in 2:44/km.

Photo by Mary Hinze

Photo by Mary Hinze

My total time was 1:10:16 and I finished 4th overall.