TITLE: Running on the Road: Vancouver, British Columbia AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 31, 2004 4:38 PM DESC: Vancouver is a great place for a conference. It is also a great place to run! ----- BODY: (The third stop in the Running on the Road series. The first two were Allerton Park, Illinois, and Muncie, Indiana.) As we chatted before his address to the OOPSLA Educators Symposium last week, Alan Kay said "Canadians really know how to do big cities." He's certainly right about Vancouver. It is a great place for a conference. Do you see the little sail-like structures in the middle of the picture at the right? The tall building just to their left is the Pan Pacific hotel, which is where I stayed on my last two visits to British Columbia. It's a luxury hotel, more expensive than my taste for paying but just right for my taste for enjoying life. Now, look to green patch near the middle of the photo. That is Stanley Park, a gem in the crown of urban parks. Among its many charms is a 10km seaside trail for running and biking, along with numerous roads and paths that criss-cross the wooded acres. It's the best place to run in the so-called north mainland of Vancouver. Stanley Park The 10km seaside trail is a wonderful run, flat and scenic. You'll run by and under a couple of small lighthouses that alert the bays many vessels to steer clear of the peninsula. You'll run past a couple of commemorative statues and even a children's park. Add in the 1.25-mile jog from the Pan Pacific area to make a nice 8.5 miler. In previous trips, I've thrown in a second loop to make a 15-miler. Run the trails up to Prospect Point, far and away the highest point in Vancouver, to add some challenging hillwork to your workout. Some of those trails seem nearly vertical... Mix in some minutes running on the interior streets and trails of the park to craft a variety of runs up to the distance of your choice. On my most recent trip, I continued my recovery from the Des Moines Marathon with three of the simple 8.5-milers, in 72, 70, and 78 minutes, respectively. They were my longest runs since the race, and that middle one was my fastest, too. False Creek False Creek is an inlet from the bay to the west of Vancouver, separating the north mainland of the convention center and Pan Pacific Hotel from the south mainland of commerce and residence. There is a an 8km loop around False Creek from the Burrard Street Bridge on the west around the inlet and back. I ran south down Burrard Street, which terminates less than a block west of the Pan Pacific, about one mile to the Burrard Street Bridge, to connect with the shore trail around False Creek. That all-urban connection is just about a mile long, with a few small hills making it interesting. The photo to the left shows you what early morning runs through the city look like. You can even see this panaorama from the southeast corner of the False Creek loop. I didn't know how to get straight on the loop after crossing to the south side of the bridge, so I ended up running a little bit more than planned around a Molson brewery and through some seaside businesses. Eventually I found the paved seawalk and began my big lap. As I wrote earlier, this coastline run is a mix of urban park, pretty modern buildings, and occasional industrial spaces. It's not as undisturbedly scenic as Stanley Park, but it gives you a more complete sense of what Vancouver is. With my fumbling around at the beginning of the loop, I ended up with a nice 72-minute run -- right in line with my other runs this week. In my three trips to Vancouver, I've never had a chance to venture beyond the north mainland. The mountain view to the right hint at some of the other sights and activities to be had in this beautiful city. In the future, I hope to take in a cruise on the bay, hike in the mountains, visit other parts of the region -- and run all over place, of course. -----