We participated in the Kelowna Wine Country half marathon this past weekend. We haven’t been training for it at all, and came out of the race in pretty good condition! The race course was gorgeous and so was the bling!
Lots of Haribo gummy candy, carb-rich food, and tons of Skratch Labs hydration thanks to my sponsor Race Day Fuel over the 3 days leading up to the race. We didn’t wear anything new on race day, and Justin and I opted for matching Pro Compression compression socks. We started wearing compression socks a few years ago because we wanted to match our friends at races (they are also ambassadors, we are not) and I’m just in love. No lower leg fatigue during racing, and they’re fun! We wore our Solomon hydration packs, because we always like to have our own water and hydration. In our drop off bags, we packed sandals, a change of clothes, and a small washcloth for after the race.
This race switched ownership for 2019, and I think that left a little to be desired in terms of organization. No complaints though, just observations based on our previous experiences at other races. When we showed up to package pickup, we had to wait in line to “check in” and then told to wait in another line to gain entrance into the “expo”. Very tiny expo, but it was cool. There were a few vendors to browse, if you needed some cute on-sale gear, Birkenstocks or other racing essentials like fuel or Body Glide. As part of the entry fee, we got cute gender specific tank tops in this beautiful shade of blue. We got our race bibs, racer bracelets (for after the race), and a big clear plastic bag for bag drop-off in the morning.
The city of Kelowna is wonderful, because parking is free all day Sunday! We drove and got a primo parking spot in front of the Delta. There were buses that shuttled us to the start at Bertram Park. I was having major stomach pain all morning, so I spent a lot of the time walking around and dry-heaving while my hubby and friends went to go use the bathrooms before we hopped on the school buses that would shuttle us out to the start line.
We brought a change of clothes in our drop-off bags, and there didn’t seem to be anywhere accepting our bags. We saw 2 volunteers from package pickup, and when we asked them they said to just leave it on the grass by the buses. We were a little skeptical but went along with the instructions, because we didn’t have anything extremely valuable in our bags. This was also one of the smallest races we’ve ever done with 1,300 races, so we just tried to go with the flow and keep criticism to ourselves.
The bus ride felt rather long from the Delta to Bertram Park. Maybe because I spent most of the time trying not to vomit. The race course was meant to start elsewhere, but got changed to Bertram Park at a later time. I’m not sure entirely when it happened, since I wasn’t paying too close attention to the route anyway. I wanted to be surprised and not worry about how I was going to pay for this all with my lack of training. What I didn’t know wouldn’t be able to hurt me, right?! We went over about 4 hills which felt monstrous in the big yellow school buses. Finally, we were dropped off in Bertram Park. It was communicated that people weren’t supposed to drive and park at the start line due to space, but it seemed fine. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived. And the first thing I noticed was the huge lines to the portopotties. I did not feel like going into the bushes, so I waited in line.
After we used the most clean and pristine portopotties in the world, we got in line with about 5 minutes to spare to the start time. November Project kicked off some warmups at the start line. They got everyone jazzed, and sang some funny drills. We did our own Peloton-inspired pre run warmups. I couldn’t stomach the idea of jumping or doing butt kicks with my stomach acting up. I recorded some Instagram Stories, and before we knew it we were off! Justin wasn’t even ready, so I waited for him to get himself together and we were off. The start line cleared pretty quick, within a minute or two. I held my stomach with one arm for a good mile or two, because it was just generally hurting and thought the support would help.
The race course was so beautiful! I was so worried about the hills at the beginning of the course, but they weren’t bad at all!! I would run half way up each one, and then walk to the top and take off running again. They were gentle rolling hills at best. I should’ve worn my heart rate monitor to better gauge my effort, but I knew I didn’t want to red line early in the race and then have to worry about over-exertion and then being on the verge of puking every time I made a push.
The view was spectacular throughout the race. We ran on Lakeshore Drive, which means a view of the lake to your left. We mostly had the entire road to ourselves, but there were a few cars that drove through since there are some residents who live on the route. This is when running with headphones is really dangerous. Yes, you are supposed to have a dedicated course for running, but life happens like cars on the course, and you have to be mindful of your surroundings.
We ran along Lakeshore towards Dehart and Swamp Road. This was my least favourite section because we were just running on the shoulder of the road and the road was pretty active with cars. We ran by Michaelbrook Ranch Golf Course and I wished for a moment that we were golfing instead of running. We finally got off the road and got to run a bit on the Mission Creek Greenway. It was great to finally see Mission Creek! It was beautiful running beside the creek. I used to hate there-and-back/lollipops in race courses, but have grown to enjoy them, because it’s nice seeing other people racing and not feel like you’re last.
The last 3-4 miles really dragged on for me. I miscounted one mile and thought for that entire mile that I was closer to finishing than not, so that didn’t help. Since my stomach hurt all morning, I decided not to eat anything all race even though I had 2 gels with me. I drank a small cup of water at all the aid stations, and drank the coconut water I was carrying in my hydration pack closer to the end of the race.
The Finish Line
The finish line was at Waterfront Park and had a nice long finishing chute. I saw my hubby and friends waving me in. They announced your name when you finished, and you were given your medal. It was pretty crowded but my hubby and friends were able to find my pretty quickly in the throngs of finishers. I was the last of our group to finish at 2:32. The course was also a bit short, but overall it was not bad of an effort for a half marathon! There was finisher bananas (which I missed), more of those SunRype bubbly ice teas (which I promptly grabbed for calories), Clif fruit filled bars, and fruit bars. Our drop off bags were displayed on a table top. There weren’t too many left when I arrived, so I got my bag in seconds! We headed off to the bathrooms by “Tugboat Bay” to get cleaned up and head to the wine tastings.
This was the entire reason why I knew I needed to finish the race. I only had one small moment of doubt early on in the race, but that doubt was squashed quickly because I needed to finish to get that medal and finisher wine glass. The way the finish line was laid out, it was pretty quick to wander through and get our finisher wine glass, and head to the park and fill up on wine. They had a bunch of different wineries there, pouring samples of wine. I tried a few whites from a few wineries we had never gone too, and then just stuck to revisiting my favourites. Not bad for 10am on a Sunday morning. Eventually, we grew tired as the adrenaline wore off, and decided it was time to sit down and get brunch at Oak + Cru at the Delta.
We will do this race again for sure! The 2019 Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon was great in terms of value and swag. The weather was cool and a bit rainy, much to my own personal delight, so it was a perfect day to run a half marathon. The race course was beautiful, and it was easy that the day “started” and finished at the Delta. The race is perfect if you were from out of town and stayed at the Delta. And if you are local or visiting, Kelowna on a Sunday morning is extremely easy to navigate and there’s ton of car parking. The wine festival at the end was also a good time! Not sure if the organizers will plan on providing on-course nutrition in 2020, so make sure to pack your own. We’re definitely going to try and snag an early bird rate and entry for next year.