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My favourite running routes in Vancouver

My favourite running routes in Vancouver
My favourite running routes in Vancouver

Since I moved to Vancouver, perhaps unsurprisingly, I have become a runner. In May 2016, I ran my first marathon.

During marathon training, I logged countless miles, ate too many scones, and discovered some favourite running routes in and around Vancouver. Here are some of my go-to’s!

For the sake of simplicity, all routes begin and end at Vancouver’s Waterfront Skytrain Station located downtown, unless otherwise noted. I used many of these routes for my long runs during marathon training, but they can all easily be shortened or lengthened. 

This 15.5 km route takes you all the way around Stanley Park via the Seawall, under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and past Siwash Rock, Second and Third Beach, and English Bay. There are ample washrooms and water fountains. I do not recommend running this route in the middle of a summer day. You will spend all your time dodging tourists and avoiding cyclists on the pedestrian path.

This 28 km route takes you around Stanley Park and along the entire Seawall. Once you reach Kitsilano Beach Park, the Seawall essentially stops (you later can pick up a path at Jericho Beach). I turn up Cornwall and return home via the Burrard Street Bridge. Time to add in a hill after a flat run!

When I get “tired” of running the Seawall (but really, who can tire of that!) or I want to avoid the crowds, I turn to the Stanley Park trails. This 13 km route will take you around Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake, and up to Prospect Point. The views of West and North Vancouver are great from Prospect Point (and there are bathrooms, a snack bar, and water fountains there)! I always get lost running on the trails here, but it’s a good way to make the run longer and more exciting.

I have had many memorable runs along this 28 km route that takes you across the Burrard Street Bridge to Kitsilano, Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks (a favourite spot of mine), up the infamous UBC hill, around UBC Campus, and eventually back to downtown via West 8th Avenue.

There was the time I ran against the wind for 15 miles of an 18 mile run. I remember hating life when I hit Jericho Beach. On my last 20 mile run before BMO Vancouver Marathon, I ran up to UBC and ran out of gels and water on a very hot day. The Wesbrook Running Room came to my rescue that day and I was given the helpful advice of taking West 8th home!

I remember this 30 km route well, it felt epic! You run up Ontario Street (it is hilly), past Hillcrest Centre (good for a bathroom stop), Queen Elizabeth Park, Langara College, and reach East Kent Avenue. Things get a little sketchy for a bit: the area is quite industrial and somewhat deserted. But then you reach the River District and some lovely parks and trails. There is also a burger joint at km 21, just saying. Upon reaching Burnaby, turn up toward Boundary Road and eventually run home on the path that follows the Skytrain line. I stopped at Commercial-Broadway Station to take transit home, but you could continue onto downtown.

When I want to “escape” downtown Vancouver, I run across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. On this 15 km route, you go left to West Vancouver toward Ambleside Beach and Dundarave. In the route below, you go right to North Vancouver. Usually, I don’t want to run back across the Lion’s Gate Bridge, so I end the run at Park Royal Whole Foods. To make the route longer, explore the Capilano Pacific Trail, run part of the Stanley Park Seawall or trails before you cross the bridge, or run back to Vancouver.

I enjoy running along the relatively new Spirit Trail in North Vancouver during this 13 km route. There are lovely views of downtown Vancouver and Canada Place from Kings Mill Walk Dog Park. You can either turn back here, and return via the Lion’s Gate Bridge to Vancouver. Or if it is a nice day, I continue on and end the run at Lonsdale Quay Market. After grabbing a bite, I’ll take the Seabus home.

This is one of my favourite long run routes during my first marathon training (22 km route)! I hit a low point during my training and was seriously considering dropping out of the marathon. My friend Sylvia, who had recently moved to New Westminster, suggested we meet downtown and run to her new place for her brunch! You follow the Skytrain line for the majority of the run (excellent – or risky – if you need to bail). While brunch was an epic fail, the run was a lot of fun and helped reinvigorate me!

Other Ideas and Resources

  • Hills: any bridge (Burrard, Cambie, or Granville Street Bridge for a longer ascent and descent, Lion’s Gate Bridge), streets in West End and Kitsilano, and area surrounding Queen Elizabeth Park.
  • Explore a new area, like East Vancouver for me
  • Hit the trails: Pacific Spirit Park, Capilano Pacific Trail, and Lynn Headwaters Regional Park may be good places to start
  • End with food: I like stopping at a favourite coffee shop, Whole Foods on Cambie or at Park Royal, and Be Fresh Local Market.
  • Run to a destination: Deep Cove in North Vancouver is on my list to do! Just make sure you have some form of transportation home and preferably somewhere to eat when you arrive at your destination.
  • Join a run club that is outside of your neighbourhood
  • Go on Strava 
  • Check out these helpful links:

Do you have a favourite running route in Vancouver or the city you live in? I’d love to know!

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