Here’s a Google Streetview tour of some of the sights along one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the world – the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I’ve tried to highlight a few of the key moments and points of interest along this 42.2km tour of Vancouver.
Let’s start at the beginning in Queen Elizabeth Park, where runners will gather just down the street from Nat Bailey Stadium, home of the Vancouver Canadians baseball team.
Cambie to the Big Hill
Runners make a left turn onto Cambie St. just after the start and the route heads south towards Cambie Village. There will be some locals out to cheer the marathoners on at the start. This is a residential area with some shops and homes to look at.
Here’s the view just prior to the right turn onto 49th St. Look for Langara 49th Avenue Canada Line station on your left as a landmark here. You’re about 2.5km in.
The route heads west along W. 49th Ave. which is a bit more narrow than Cambie, and decidedly residential. There are a few minor rollers along here but nothing to worry about. Eventually runners head slightly right onto SW. Marine Drive. Take a gel around 7km in advance of the big hill.
Around 9km, the course heads north and the first real challenge is the run up Camosun hill. This is a big, long, fairly steep hill. Take it easy and don’t ruin the latter stages of your run by elevating your heart rate too much here. The hill is about 1.1km.
West 16th and UBC
Once the Camosun Hill and Pacific Spirit Park are behind you, it’s back onto the wide streets and W. 16th Ave. There’s a short out and back section here up Blanca St. to add some distance and then it’s into the University of British Columbia (UBC).
At about 16.5km you’ll make a right turn onto NW Marine Dr. Look for the UBC Stadium on your right.
From here, it’s an enjoyable and slightly downhill run through the campus. Then it’s a slight left and down a long, fast hill. Look to your left here. The views across to Vancouver Island are incredible, no matter the weather. Make up for lost time on Camosun as you give back that elevation and cruise down to Spanish Banks.
Spanish Banks and Jericho
Take in views of the beach at Spanish Banks and enjoy some crowd support along this stretch. Be very glad the course sticks to the beach here as there are some insane hills to your right on some of the streets that go south from NW Marine.
At about 27km you’ll be in the Jericho neighbourhood. There’s usually great crowd support along this stretch. Between that and some incredible homes to look at, the time will pass quickly here. Don’t forget to take your gels and make sure you get some nutrition in as the Burrard Bridge is coming up!
Burrard, English Bay and the Seawall
Here we go! Up and over the Burrard St. Bridge. This is a steep climb at the start, and things level out over the top. The left turn after the bridge is one of the highlights of the course. The crowd here is big and loud. Tap into their energy and know that the climbs are behind you now.
At 32km it’s down a short hill and onto the Seawall which will be your home for the next 10km. Enjoy the views out over English Bay and make note of the Inukshuk on your left. If you have time, come back here after the race and enjoy incredible sunsets.
The Seawall curves and snakes along the edge of the water here and it’s a little tough to keep track of where you are and how much race is left to run. The first landmark to watch for is Siwash Rock around 35km. Here the path runs between the cliff and a large “flower-pot” rock. It’s quite a sight!
Lion’s Gate Bridge and Not a mermaid statue
At 36km the Seawall passes under the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge. Look up and marvel at this suspension bridge that joins Vancouver to the cities of North Van and West Van. The bridge marks the start of the last push. You’ll be able to see downtown soon and there’s not much running left to do.
At 38km look to your left for the Girl in a Wetsuit statue in the water. Contrary to what some might think, it’s not a mermaid. Perhaps at 38km, you be ready to believe it’s a beautiful woman cheering you to a strong finish.
Get ready for the Brockton Point Lighthouse and be aware that an official photographer is often parked just around the bend waiting to snap a picture of runners. Look strong!
Coal Harbour and the finish
The Seawall seems to go on forever…but it’s almost done and the race is also nearing its end. Around 40km runners are treated to some spectacular views of the Vancouver skyline in Coal Harbour. Enjoy them and prepare yourself for a final push up a small hill to the finish line.
Here it is! The finish line awaits. Run up and finish strong. Cross the line and get a medal from one of the awesome volunteers. You did it. You’ve RUN VAN.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Make a mental note of some of these spots. It helps break the race up into manageable chunks and also allows you to take some time to enjoy this spectacular course and a beautiful city.
Download a PDF version with more information including the location of water stations, first aid, toilets, etc.