Starting downtown and finishing at BC Place Stadium on a Sunday in April, the Vancouver Sun Run is a great 10 km running race for all skill levels.
The race attracts over 40,000 runners most years, including pre-teens, senior citizens and elite athletes.
The 2020 Sun Run didn’t happen due to COVID-19. The 2021 Sun Run took place in a virtual format as described below. Continue reading for information about the Sun Run in normal years.
Vancouver Sun 10 km Race
Not only is the Vancouver Sun Run Canada’s largest 10 km race, but it’s also one of the world’s most beautiful.
The race starts downtown at the corner of Georgia and Burrard. It normally goes through Stanley Park and passes along English Bay. Participants cross the Burrard Street Bridge, go over the Cambie Street Bridge and run down to BC Place Stadium.
The views during the run are beautiful. In normal years, runners can see mountains, beaches, skyscrapers, bridges and the ocean. If it’s a sunny Sun Run, it’s always amazing!
The Vancouver Sun Run really is for everyone. There are world-class athletes competing, but also seniors, children and thousands of recreational runners. Some people even walk a chunk of the way. There’s even a race for folks in wheelchairs! Along the route are also thousands of cheering friends, supporters and other spectators.
If you aren’t a runner yourself, go anyway and cheer on your friends or other participants. Along the route are bands playing music, so the whole run has a festive atmosphere.
Race Details in COVID Years
Due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus, the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run didn’t happen. The 2021 race took place between April 18th and April 30th. It wasn’t a live event, however. The 2021 run was a virtual event because of COVID-19.
There were four types of virtual runs available in 2021. Participants could run the 10 kilometres individually, or they could register in teams of at least 8 runners. Teams of folks under the age of 19 could only participate in the Youth Team Challenge, whereas those 19 or older could join the Shaw Team Division run. There was also a smaller version of the run that spans 2.5 km instead of 10 km, and it is open to all ages.
All four of the runs were held virtually in 2021. As a result, participants ran anywhere and at any time they wanted between April 18th and April 30th. Runners received t-shirts and other nice items with registration. The items varied depending on which run they participated in. People picked up the goodies at Running Room stores and some were mailed directly to homes too.
Sun Run Route & Photos
The starting line for the Vancouver Sun Run is downtown on Georgia Street by Burrard in normal years. The runners line up for several blocks, organized in categories according to their expected running times.
Before reaching Stanley Park the race usually turns up Denman Street. Participants then turn at Robson Street and continue on towards the ocean. The race then makes its way through Stanley Park along Lagoon Drive and then Beach Drive past English Bay.
From Beach Drive, the route then typically goes up over the Burrard Street Bridge and crosses False Creek.
Participants in the run make their way to 6th Avenue and then to Cambie after crossing the bridge. Runners then cross False Creek again, this time via the Cambie Street Bridge.
The Cambie Street Bridge crossing is a beautiful part of the race. It’s the final kilometre for the runners most years, so they are exhausted but full of renewed energy and determination. The views of the city from the bridge are also spectacular, with the morning sun shining on the city’s skyscrapers.
From the Cambie Street Bridge, the normal route turns east into its final stretch toward BC Place Stadium.
There are usually thousands of fans, supporters and exhausted runners at the finish line. An announcer naming many of the runners as they cross the line is also present.
Thousands of recuperating runners are greeted and reunited with their friends and supporters on the road outside BC Place at the end of the race. In addition to the crowds celebrating outside the stadium, thousands more go inside BC Place to enjoy the free concert. An awards ceremony and general post-run celebrations also take place in normal years.
Vancouver Sun Run Tips
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Sun Run experience in most years.
TIP #1: If you’re a runner and you don’t like crowds, this isn’t the best run to be in – there are typically over 40,000 participants. In comparison, at the BMO Marathon in May, there is a maximum of just 5,000. For a full list of running options, both big and small, check out Vancouver Running Races.
TIP #2: Also if you’re a runner, you don’t have to run the second your group gets to go. With modern technology, your timer begins the moment you cross the start line.
A Vancouver’s Best Places staff member didn’t get to cross the start line one year until over 30 minutes after her official start time thanks to the huge lineups at the washrooms. She said starting late was fantastic and she’ll do it again in the future on purpose – all the crowds were gone! There was no bumping into people at the start. It was also incredibly motivating because she got to pass all the slow people instead of faster runners passing her!
TIP #3: If you’re a spectator, one of the best places to watch is on the east sidewalk on the Cambie Street Bridge. The sun is perfect for photos and runners are excited. Participants, however, still need encouragement as it’s their final kilometre. The views of the city are also stunning.
TIP #4: Avoid driving downtown at all costs on race day. Many of Vancouver’s primary streets downtown are closed for the event, making traffic a nightmare. Take public transit instead. And if you want to cheer your friends on at different points throughout their run, consider taking your bike – that’s the best way of getting around much of the downtown core on race day.
The Sun Run has taken some huge steps in reducing the amount of waste production from the event over the years. For example, participants can choose to bike to the start line. There is a free bike valet that can hold up to 150 bikes at a time.
If possible, participants should also bring their own reusable cup or water bottle and don’t use disposable energy gel packs as they cannot be recycled. Don’t stress, however, if you aren’t able to bring your own water bottle. Everything at the event is usually recyclable or compostable.
There are typically volunteers at the recycling stations to ensure that participants have properly disposed of all materials. For more information on this event going green check out Sun Run Environmental Initiatives.
To learn more about the event, click on the Vancouver Sun Run website.