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Written By Jessica Lam - April 23 2021
Words by Jessica Lam @lam.ontherun
Photos by Taylor Maxwell @tmax_16
The third weekend in April holds much esteem in the running world. For the last 50+ years, the Boston Marathon has been run on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday in April. The oldest annual marathon, Boston had never missed a year, that is, until 2020. Similarly, Vancouver Running Co.’s Flight Crew Run Club had never missed a Thursday evening, until 2020.
On March 12, 2020, the hard, but necessary decision was made to put Flight Crew on hiatus. Since then, we witnessed countless race cancellations, conceded to a prolonged off-season, and for some, embraced the virtual start line.
With Marathon Monday postponed once again, our friends at Heartbreak Hill Running Co., with the support of Nike, had the ingenious idea to celebrate Patriot’s Day Weekend in true pandemic fashion with a good ol’ marathon relay. And so was born the Magic Horse Marathon Relay.
Here at Vancouver Running Co., we always love a good challenge; so when Heartbreak asked us to represent Canada, we were all in, no questions asked. A team of Flight Crew’s finest unicorns was activated: Jay Grandin, Roanne Greiff, Fergus Kung, Jes Lam, and Rob Smith. It was time to dust off the running shoes, find our legs again, and get at it.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday, April 17th, the team awoke to a beautiful spring morning. The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and race conditions were absolutely perfect.
The team gathered at the Ranger’s Station in Pacific Spirit Regional Park to start our scenic 42.2 kilometre route. At 6:30 am, we counted down our first runner, Jay.
3, 2, 1… and he was off. Jay ran a solid pace, flying down UBC hill, the only downhill section of the route. He kept floating as he hit the bottom of the hill and pushed through the last couple kilometres of his leg to pass off to Roanne, our second runner.
Roanne proved that late-night runs after settling her toddler to sleep paid off. Cruising alongside the beach from Spanish Banks, through Jericho and Kitsilano, she continued along the water, chasing the risen sun until she met our third runner, Jes, who was waiting just past Granville Island.
Jes ran the False Creek section of the route, where she practically had the path all to herself, less the company of our photographer extraordinaire, Taylor Maxwell, on bike. Midway through her leg, Jes was joined by a masked Roanne and Jay on bikes, pacing her way to Rob, our fourth runner, who was eagerly waiting at English Bay.
Rob set off towards Stanley Park, running the Seawall, soaking in views of the North Shore mountains until he reached the route’s biggest climb – Pipeline Road. Bounding up the hill and through the middle of Stanley Park, Rob sailed along until he met the team’s anchor, Fergus.
The final handoff at Lost Lagoon, Fergus was ready to bring us home. Striding effortlessly through one full lap of the Stanley Park Seawall and then some, Fergus kept the rhythm in his feet until the GPS clicked 42.21 km.
Air-fives ensued as the team ecstatically gathered to see our result. Crushed it! It was a truly spectacular morning that left the team buzzing. After a long year not having run together, it brought nostalgia for our Thursday evenings, but also excitement for the future, when start lines return and we can once again share miles together.
Thank you to Heartbreak for inviting us along for the ride and to Nike Running for supplying the race kits to keep us fast.