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Lululemon SeaWheeze Half-Marathon 2016 Race Review

A celebration of brand loyalty.

For the past five years in August, hordes of women and a few men from all over descend on Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada to participate in Lululemon's signature event, the Seawheeze Half-Marathon.

Lululemon does a great marketing job here as it's an entire weekend of yoga, running, more yoga, and a lot of Lululemon gear acquisition. As a result, this is an extremely popular event and it sells out in minutes even when the event is 11-12 months in the future.

For the past three years, I've run this race with my wife and some friends and every year the event doesn't disappoint. 

Course

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The SeaWheeze course is one of my favorites because you get to see some choice parts of Vancouver such as Chinatown, Kitsilano, Stanley Park, and the Seawall.

The race starts in Coal Harbour near the Vancouver Convention Center and heads past Downtown and into Chinatown. From there, you head along the False Creek passing Rogers Stadium towards the Burrard St. Bridge. Once you loop around onto the bridge and cross it, you enter Kitsilano passing by Lululemon headquarters. There's a turn around in Kitsilano which is about 6 miles in and you head back towards the bridge and continue along the Seawall. 

The course also has lots of cheeky signs and fun crowd support.

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The remainder of the race takes place on the Seawall and through a portion of Stanley Park. In a welcome change, the finish line is now along boardwalk in Coal Harbour. 

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The new finish is much more satisfying and logistically better as finishing chute takes advantage of the boardwalk's design and efficiently moves runners through to pick up medals, water, towels, post-race swag and food. Previously, the course had runners navigating through a bunch of streets to finish by the starting line which caused a lot of congestion due to lack of space. This year's medal was pretty cool.

Highlights: Swag + Expo

Perhaps the signature aspect of the Lululemon SeaWheeze is the limited edition swag you can attain. Every year, a new theme and logo adorns the event creating an opportunity for participants to pickup limited edition products and experiences.

First, let's talk about the shorts. When you sign up for SeaWheeze, Lululemon let's you choose one of two different styles and sends you the race shorts months in advance so you can train in them, show them off, and hopefully wear them on race day. These are exclusive shorts and cannot be purchased anywhere, not even at the expo.

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Next, there's the expo and packet pickup. The day before the race, participants can pickup their race packets which include their timing chips, a water bottle, and a custom Lululemon bag that's used for bag check. Participants can also get in line for the expo where they can purchase more SeaWheeze exclusive products. This is another popular pastime for participants of the SeaWheeze and the line for the expo is INSANE. 

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This year, people lined up as early as 11:30AM the day before to be first in line to get into the expo. Additionally, people were willing to sell their place in line to late-comers. We got in line at about 5:30am and finally got into the expo at 9:20am (just under 4 hours!).

Inside, all the apparel are grouped by size. So, there's an area for 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. There's also a separate area for accessories. For men, there's a small corner of the floor where S, M, L, and XL are in one place. It probably accounts for maybe 15% of the floor. Men's medium sizes go super fast and are mostly gone in the first hour.

The line for the expo is INSANE

Once the doors open, it's literally a mad dash to grab stuff in your size and quickly find a changing room or to start what I call a "nest". 

People literally find an open spot on the floor, surround themselves with all the stuff they've grabbed, and then start trying on everything while simultaneously video calling friends to show them what is available and if they want one. There is a limit to the number of items one can purchase so people take their time trying to figure out which pieces they have to have.

You also see people wandering from nest to nest to inquire if items are unwanted and available. 

There's a crazy energy to it all and it's fun observing the happy madness. 

What Could Be Better

There aren't any race photos. Well, there are some photos and videos of the event but there aren't individual race photos by participant which is somewhat disappointing. If you're lucky then you might end up in one otherwise you'll have to take your own.

Final Thoughts

Lululemon puts on a great event. It certainly doesn't hurt that the race is located in Vancouver either. It's a beautiful and diverse course filled with ample aid stations, port-a-potties, support crews, and crowd support. While I've been looking at new races to do, this one remains a race to mark on my calendar as a must go annually (if possible).

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