There is no denying that Vancouver is a fantastic running city. I would actually argue that it is the best running city in the world. But I don’t have a lot of time to gush about how much I love running in this fine city, so let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about some of my favourite places to put in work.
People love lists, let’s do that. I present to you Rob’s 5 favourite running spots in Vancouver.
The Top 5
Out and back from Jericho to Spanish Banks has been my go to 10km route for a few years now, I have literally put over 5000km on this route, and you know what? It never gets old. On the way out you get a breathtaking view of the coastal mountains, on the way back there is a nice view of our downtown and mighty Stanley park. As a bonus, there are often bald eagles flying around out at Spanish Banks. Bald eagles are majestic as hell.
The path is flat and the trail is soft gravel. You can also easily add on loops in Jericho park or head up the hill to UBC & Pacific spirit park to make for a longer run. This is a very solid place to run.
Point Grey High School Track
One thing Vancouver lacks is decent tracks. I’m not sure what the deal is there. Maybe something to with the fact that the land needed for a track would be worth like $100 million. Anyways, if you are looking for a place to put in some speed work, this is the place to do it. The track is blue, which is cool, and it has a nice soft surface. It is well lit with flood lights, super convenient for working out in the evening. Just don’t go on a Tuesday night, Tuesdays are bonkers.
University of British Columbia (UBC)
When it is time to get some serious training done for road races, I head up to UBC. The roads up there are generally quieter than the city routes, and there are many different options to make different routes. There are many different Strava segments up there you can follow along. Also, bonus points for warm-ups and cool-downs in Pacific Spirit Park. When you want to roll, head up here.
Stanley Park Trails
People tend to lose their heads over the seawall that goes around Stanley Park. I get it, but the trails within the park is where the real magic is. There are dozens of kilometres of trails in there. You can roll tempos, interval work, hill sessions or just go for an easy stroll. Whatever you are doing in there, your legs will love the soft trails, and it is easy to just shut off your brain and run while you take in the beautiful forest full of ancient cedars and massive Douglas firs.
My favourite route is to enter the park at 2nd beach and to make my way up Bridle trail to Prospect Point. Stop briefly to take in the view of the north shore mountains and Lions Gate Bridge, before making your way down Rawlings back to where you started (That is also a great loop for Boston Marathon training).
Pacific Spirit Park
One of the first times I came to Vancouver, I was visiting the family of a girl I was dating. I managed to find my way up to Pacific Spirit Park on a long run. I have no idea what that girl is doing these days, but I will always be thankful to her for allowing me the opportunity to discover this park. Just go run up there. It is unbelievable.
I feel as though I should give a couple honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the list …I guess this is technically kinda like a top 7 list then?
Is it blasphemous that I neglected to include our most famous, and well-used route in my top 5? It is flat, scenic and super convenient, there is no denying that this is a great place to run. I do run on it a fair bit, but man does it get busy! I get frustrated weaving in and out around people, therefore it does not make the top 5.
The Arbutus Corridor
This is a new option for runners/commuters in Vancouver. It is totally a game changer a very solid North/South connector, but I have not run on it enough for it to squeak into the top 5.
Finally, always keep your personal safety in mind when hitting the trails or roads. Run with appropriate safety gear for your route, and take the necessary precautions for the area of the city you’ll be running in.