When I got the confirmation email, I was all like WAHOOOOO I finally made it in to Seawheeze. I had an idea that this was a different experience, but not so much that I bothered to do much investigation or pre-planning on what to expect.
Even as a veteran travel racer, I wish I’d known these things to smooth the way. Consider this your SeaWheeze plan for the best possible experience of everything that’s going to happen!
Vancouver Travel Tips
A lot of people actually book hotel rooms or AirBNB’s before knowing if they got in to the race. So don’t freak out when you get in and go to look to find very little to nothing available, some will open back up.
- Hotels in Vancouver near the race are not cheap. BUT at good hotels like Westin, you can ask to have a cot (a full-size nice bed) added to the room for $30. So depending on if you have a king or two queens, you can get more of you in the room to split cost!
- AirBnb’s are not plentiful and are also still more expensive than I often see in the US, so again find friends and split it. I genuinely love AirBNB’s for a race though because you often have a kitchen to manage your pre and post race nutrition.
Uber is not a thing in Vancouver, so you will need to grab a taxi from the airport or you can utilize the train. I’ve heard the train is super easy, I just went even easier by walking to the taxi stand.
Once in the downtown area you can largely walk to everything around the race, restaurants and shops (including the largest Lululemon store). For some of the major tourist attractions like Grouse or the suspension bridge, there are free shuttles that run from Canada Place next to the Convention Center, which I’ll note below.
If you’re on the hunt for healthy food, good news, there’s plenty of options:
- Tacofino has a tofu option or even my chicken taco was fresh, filled with veggies and healthy
- Equinox Gym has a shop to make smoothies, grab fresh juices or protein donuts
- Seafood is fresh and high quality here giving you lots of meal options
- Plant based meals are also fairly easy to find at most restaurants
SeaWheeze Race Tips
First up, is a before you’ve ever left home tip!!
Keep your eyes peeled throughout the summer for your Seawheeze bracelet to appear and then put it somewhere visible so you don’t lose it!
- Set a reminder in your phone for the date it can be activated
- Activate it immediately to begin booking the services they have available
- Those things aren’t listed on the website so you won’t know until you activate it all that you could be missing out on (like hair braiding, fingernail designs and vision boarding)
- Register for the absolute EARLIEST possible time slot at the Lululemon Pop Up shop if you want to go in to the store. It’s the only way to avoid crazy long waits or them likely being out of your size
- Don’t put the bracelet on or tighten it if you don’t want it off, the only option is to cut it off.
Beyond the bracelet a few other tips around the race experience:
- There is so much available to you the day before the race, take advantage of the experience instead of trying to plan other things around Vancouver. Should keep you from overdoing it, as well.
- Bag check can be a line, so if you want to leave one just give yourself that time to wait and then make it up to the start (about a block)
- There are no corrals, so if you want to be 1:50 or faster, you must work your way very close to the front of the racers
- I wouldn’t recommend going for time, but instead truly enjoying the course, the cheering stations and the views
Seawheeze Sunset Festival
This is another area where they don’t post too much information on the website, so I think a lot of us were wondering what’s going on and what is necessary.
- Your race registration gets you access to the festival.
- Friends and family can purchase tickets to join you. It’s kid friendly with some of the things going on.
- They provide free shuttles from the convention center or it’s roughly 1.3 miles to walk along the water over there, which was super pretty and chill.
- Yoga is performed in the grass, which is why they recommend you bring a yoga mat. But there are also some large tarps that are anchored to the ground (I sat there and stretched during yoga).
- There is NO FREE food, but there are food vendors with everything from Poutine to Beyond Burgers and seafood. Yes indeed there is beer and wine as well.
- There is another Lulu pop up shop, but not with the reflective gear and crazy items from the other store. This has basically 1 or 2 Seawheeze shirt designs in a couple colors. But again people mob it at the start, so go while everyone is doing yoga.
- There is a small little area of local vendors with things like bracelets, essential oils, and such.
- After yoga they’ll move on to some bands and a DJ for you to dance hard and let loose.
Vancouver to Do Tips
If you’re in Vancouver then you might as well see some of the sights, right?! That’s always my mindset around a travel race, otherwise I could race at home.
Grouse Grind is the well-known hike in the area and I’d say this is less of a hike and more of a stair stepper workout! It’s 2830 steps over 2.7km, which is to say it’s up and up and up and up.
You’ll largely be focused on your feet, but the trees are gorgeous and people are stopped all along the way, so you have chances to pause and keep your heart from leaping out of your chest. I would NOT do this the day before the race…so of course we did it the day after, ha!!
This is one that you do for the journey really. It was crazy foggy at the top, so not much to see, but I don’t get the impression it would have been huge vistas anyhow.
Grouse Grind Hike Tips
As always with super touristy areas, I tend to recommend going early. But we didn’t make it out there til about 10 and while it was busy, you could go you own pace.
- Grab the free shuttle from Canada Place (about a 25-30 minute ride)
- Carry water for the hike
- Anticipate you will sweat like a beast
- At the top you’ll find bathrooms and a restaurant, also options to pay for other things like a Zipline tour
- Free WiFi at the top so you can post about your success
- Pay $15 CDN to take the super-fast gondola back to the bottom
- At the bottom grab the shuttle back OR do as we did and wait for the free connector shuttle to the Capalano Suspension Bridge
Capalano Suspension Bridge
Buy your tickets from your hotel concierge or online in advance and you’ll skip any lines from buses when you arrive. Of course, if you don’t go early, you will still find yourself surrounded by a BOATLOAD of people when you are attempting to have your zen moment of crossing the wobbly bridge.
Tickets are $59 CDN and you can easily spend a couple hours here exploring:
- Walk across the suspension bridge
- Walk through the tree top bridges which are much more stable and have interesting facts like none of the platforms have nails in the tree!
- Walk the nature boardwalk to see bird handlers, the beautiful trees and really enjoy nature.
- Head back across the bridge for the Cliffside walk, which again provides beautiful views and a lot of cool facts like trees can absorb 40% of the water they need from fog!
- There’s also an area full of totem poles giving you a history of the names and how this area was created
- As always, you’ll find another restaurant and shop
Once again, you then have the option to grab a free shuttle back downtown! Doing these two sites together was a good day post-race to keep us moving, but I won’t lie the legs weren’t 100% thrilled with my choices the following morning.
Gardens and Planes and Ferries
If you have another full day or want something to do the day before the race that won’t trash your legs, then it’s time to take in some of the beauty of the area.
Granville Farmer’s Market is a fun area to explore and you get there via a small boat for $5CDN round trip! A moment on the water followed by a few hours walking through a combination of small local vendors and sniffing out tons of delicious local restaurants in the Market halls.
We were all torn between the food options, but eventually I settled on my requisite pre-race slice of pizza, while others found shrimp spring rolls, kale salads, poutine and maple glazed donuts.
- This is going to still be a decent amount of walking and not lots of places to sit, so account for that.
- Enjoy the water views, lookout for the seagulls who are ready to steal your food.
- Be prepared for crowds.
Jack Poole Plaza is filled with sea planes and for a fairly low price, you can hop aboard to have a tour over the city and experience a water take off and landing.
Bucharest Gardens was on my list of places to visit, but we just weren’t able to make it happen. My friends thought I was nuts, but every garden I’ve visited has always left me feeling so good thanks to that bounty of color and life. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this one as well, however I didn’t see any kind of free shuttle to it, so you’d need to go the taxi route.
Have you done Seawheeze, do you have any additional tips for first timers?
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