I ran my 59th half marathon in a little place called Fort Langley. It has a lot of history behind it. According to the Parks Canada website, “Fort Langley is the exact location where, a century and a half ago, a huge fur trade organization called the Hudson’s Bay Company established a small post to trade with the First Nations of the West Coast. The enterprise grew, evolved, and influenced history, leading to the creation of the colony of British Columbia.”
Can you imagine that?! I was so ignorant until I went to pick up my bib. The lady in charge there asked if I ever visited or ran in Fort Langley; I said no. So she went on to ask if I knew the history behind it. Again, I said no. As runners all we normally care about is: when the race starts, how the course is like…I never thought that a race could be of such historical significance.
I woke up to a very cool but beautiful morning. My husband and I drove from the city of Vancouver to Langley, which was about 54 km (33 miles) from Vancouver. According to Google Maps the ride takes about an hour, but we got there in about 40 minutes. We easily found a parking spot. As any anxious runner is on race day, I had to find a bathroom. I did not want to use an outhouse, so we walked about 5 minutes and found a quaint neighborhood cafe open for business. My husband bought a coffee, while I patronized their washroom. We walked up to the start of the race, and I noticed that there were a few tents (or “tipis” as they are called) set up, along with a canoe and a cabin-like building. It really felt like I stepped back in time. The Fort Langley site was not overly big, but definitely quaint and unique. There was even a fire-pit set up for runners to stand around before the start. I didn’t feel like I was racing at all.
Our race began at 8:30 a.m. The first 200 metres was purely a gravel trail, so I found my first few steps rather hard to run. Then we were on the roads, and the scenery was quite gorgeous. We ran past farmlands and view of the mountains. According to the run-site, we ran through the historic “Telegraph Trail” which is where the Hudson’s Bay Co. traded their furs. I couldn’t picture how all the carriages with goods for trade had travelled along the roads we ran on. To me, it was like running on any normal rural area. But the hills were quite frequent – you finished one, and then there were a couple more. They weren’t small hills! In fact, they were pretty steep. During the race, I questioned why I always pick races with so many hills!?? But the beauty of the mountains really helped pulled me through. The many enthusiastic and cheerful high-school student volunteers –that helped too!
For a half, I really enjoyed this course, because it was like I had experienced a history class in a way. Very different, for sure! For out of town visitors and even local runners, I highly recommend this race. Thank you to the race organizers at Try Events for putting on such a memorable race – my 59th Half Marathon, complete!!
And here is my medal!! Proud to show it off!!