Friday night was the Night Race – a 10 km run in the dark around Stanley Park where all the runners wear head lamps. Or should I say a nearly *11 km* race that they tricked us into believing was a 10 km race!
When I run races, I usually don’t pay too much attention to the route – I take a quick look at the map to figure out where the start line is and to get a basic sense of where I have to go, but beyond that I figure I can just follow the crowd, the kilometer markers, and the volunteers yelling and pointing in the direction of any turns you need to make. If there’s an elevation map, I’ll look at that so I’m forewarned of any major hills. But given that the Night Race was around Stanley Park, I knew the route would be flat and easy to follow.
However, if I’d really been thinking when I looked at the route map:
I would have noticed this very important fact: the route didn’t just go around Stanley Park. It started inside the park at the Pavilion and you had to run down to the seawall, all the way around the park, and then back up to the Pavilion. And since the distance around the seawall is 10 km, a route that goes around the seawall plus some other stuff must be >10km! Yet I didn’t put this together, even as the race started and we ran down the path to the seawall. It never occurred to me during the entire time around the seawall. It did not occur to me when I saw the 9 km mark. And it absolutely did not occur to me when the GPS told us we were at 9.8km and started a sprint into the “home stretch”. Which, of course, was not the home stretch – it was just at the point at which we had to turn to go back up the path to the Pavilion. The path that was all UPHILL for nearly an extra 1 km! Which was really difficult to do given the fact that I had just used up the last of my energy and the last of my breath to do that sprint to what I thought was the finish.
And even at that point, my brain wasn’t doing the math to really get that this route was not a mere 10 km1. As I crossed the finish line, I checked my time and saw that I came in at 1:05 and I was very disappointed, because I’d felt like I’d been running fast enough to meet my goal of being under 1 hr. And then it was pointed out to me that we’d run significantly more than 10 km, so I really did break the 1 hr mark!
In fact, if you look at my splits:
you can add up the times to run the first 10 km and see that I ran it in 59 mins and 5 seconds – nearly a minute quicker than my goal of 1 hr!
Sadly, there was no acknowledgement by the race that the route was significantly longer than 10 km and they didn’t have a chip sensor at the actual 10 km mark to tell you what your real 10 km time was2. They are only reporting out the time you crossed the finish line, a full 0.85 km longer than 10 km, so the official race results say I finished in 1:05:063. Happily, I was tracking the run so I know the truth!
Much thanks to Daniel who paced me for the race so I could reach my goal, even though it meant running much more slowly than he normally would!
Now, as you know, I’m a big nerd and like calculating things. Since the race publishes the results of all the finishers, I was able to do some calcuation-y goodness and found that:
- I came in 238th out of 673 runners in the race4, or 65th percentile (i.e., top 35%).
- I came in 95th out of the 437 women in the race, or 78th percentile (i.e., top 22%).
- I came in 30th out of the 131 women in my age category (30-39 years) in the race, or 77th percentile (i.e., top 23%).
Not too bad if I do say so myself!
Now, as you also know, I’m slightly addicted to race medals, so you may be surprised that I even ran a race where you don’t get a medal5. I did, however, get that headlamp that I mentioned, which is like a medal, only more functional. So I’ve hung it up with my race medal collection!
And speaking of medals, I have officially registered for the Rock’n’Roll 10 km race in October, which has one of the most beautiful medals I’ve seen for a race:
Importantly, I’ve also looked more closely at the route map and it appears that the Rock’n’Roll 10 km is, in fact, a 10 km race:
When I was on my spreadsheet to calculate my percentiles, I noticed that the Night Race was my second best time for a 10 km – my personal best is 58:48, which I did in the 2007 Pacific Spirit Run. The math-y among you will notice that this is a mere 17 seconds better than the Night Race – so I’m thinking that setting a new personal best needs to be my goal for the Rock’n’Roll.
- In my brain’s defence, it really wasn’t getting any oxygen at that point! [↩]
- When I ran the 8 km race at the BMO marathon in May, the route was also slightly longer than the advertised race length, due to the logistics of trying to have an 8km race where the runners join up with the half and full marathon route in the middle of Stanley Park in such a way as to be able to share the finish line. But they had a sensor at the 8 km mark to record you real 8 km time and then another at the finish line. [↩]
- I just looked at the race results now to look up my official time and I notice that they are now listing the race as a 10.5 km race. [↩]
- When I say “in the race” here, I’m talking only about finishers. It’s possible there were others in the race who didn’t finish, but I don’t have those numbers. [↩]
- Well, the top three male and top three female finishers in each of the 5 km and 10 km races got a medal, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen for me! [↩]