What do you get when you combine west coast hippy vibes, summer sunshine, downward dogs, essential oils, $130 yoga pants and 10,000 runners over two days in August?
You get SeaWheeze, a half marathon hosted by athleisure pioneer lululemon in Vancouver, BC. And as a runner and sometimes-yogi from the west coast who lives in stretchy pants and sports bras, SeaWheeze was mecca.
For those weren’t initially into the whole “new-age-affluent-hippy” atmosphere lululemon created at SeaWheeze, you could avoid the whole Showcase Store line-up/shopping frenzy, yoga classes, smoothie bar and music festival, and simply just run the race on the Saturday — though I bet you were curious, checked everything out, and by the end of the weekend you were strutting around downtown Vancouver decked out in Luon (lululemon’s patented yoga pant fabric) with a rolled-up yoga mat slung across your back, Birkenstocks on your feet and a green smoothie in your hand, with the faint scent of lavender and patchouli trailing behind you…
I magically got into SeaWheeze last fall after a stressful 15 minutes trying to register online with my running buddy Debbie. I got in, Debbie did not 🙁 Since I was the only one out of my group of friends to register, I planned to go solo and meet up with a few blogger friends who also magically got in to race. This year, the race was held on August 12.
For a $158 registration fee, you get a full two days of events and activities: yoga classes, fitness classes, meditation stations, massage, nail painting, gear testing, hair braiding, access to an exclusive Showcase Store, and a music festival featuring several hipster bands (this year featured Cold War Kids and Young the Giant). Oh, and you get to run a half marathon.
The cost of registration is well worth it. Aside from all the things you can take part in, you get some amazing swag. Your race garment, a pair of lululemon shorts, is mailed to you months ahead of the race. The shorts alone retail for $60. At package pick-up, you get a draw-string bag (retails for $70, apparently), a water bottle and nuun tablets. When you finish the race, you’re handed SeaWheeze-branded sunglasses, Vega snack bars, more nuun, a wicked bottle-opener finisher’s medal, Saje essential oils and muscle relief cream, and a brunch box with overnight oats and a chia banana loaf. I also ran into the wonderful Trevor from Vega who gave me a gorgeous mala from Mala Collective after the race.
Since I showed up late to the yoga part of the Yoga. Run. Party. (which should really be Shop. Yoga. Run. Party. since I couldn’t even get into the Showcase Store by the time I showed up to the package pick-up at 10 am), I watched Angela and her friends finish up sunset yoga before we all went out for dinner in Gastown.
Apparently women started lining up to get into the Showcase Store — which has “limited edition” lululemon gear just for the race — on Thursday. Craziness. The popular items were gone in a matter of hours — this year everyone coveted these swirly and rainbow-coloured reflective yoga pants, which appeared for sale hours later on eBay for $800. WHAT.
Aside from that ridiculousness, the whole weekend was amazing. I had great roomies (the lulucorns!) and a great race, despite a half-assed attempt at training and doing the opposite of what I should be doing a week before the race (I went to Sunfest again and camped for a few days, which always involves lots of wine, then laid sod in the yard for six hours the day before I left for the race).
The course itself, which winds through downtown Vancouver and out along the Seawall in Stanley Park and English Bay, was fairly flat and full of picturesque west-coast scenery. The cheer stations along the course were so fun (favourites included drag queens, rows of spin bikes, Vancouver PD and fire with water guns, and mermaids), and the aid stations were well stocked with Vega gels and nuun hydration (two of my favourites for race fuel!). I just ran by feel for the most part — I went out a bit too fast as usual but found a good pace at about the 12 km mark. I finished in a respectable 1:45:52, about 8 minutes slower than my PB last year.
After showering back at the hotel, a few of us grabbed brunch at Forage. It was SO GOOD. I tried not to inhale it.
Initially I had planned to take off for the ferry to get back to the island after showering, but since I missed out on the Showcase Store and I heard they’d have more gear at the Sunset Festival, we headed to Stanley Park to sit in line to grab a souvenir garment or two. Luckily this experience was more subdued then the craziness at the Showcase Store, but still ridiculous. When they opened the gates, women ran in over the fields to get to one of two merchandise tents. Since we were in line for about an hour before the festival gates opened, we were pretty close to the front and didn’t have to wait long. By the time I exited the tent with my hoodie and tights, the line ups were all the way across the festival grounds.
Overall, I must say lululemon knows how to put on an amazing race weekend. From the yoga to the swag to the race itself and the volunteers, everything was seamless and awesome from my perspective as a first-time SeaWheezer.
I’ll be back for sure, if I can magically get in again to run it.