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4 Ways to Make the Most of the Whistler Half Marathon

By Katharine Mills

June in Whistler: the ski slopes are closed, the bike park is open, and the Whistler Half Marathon kick starts summer every year in our mountain town.

Self-proclaimed as Canada’s Hottest Half Marathon, the Whistler Half draws visitors from across North America with its challenging course and breathtaking scenery.

Whistler Half Marathon/Sean St Denis

Photo credit: Whistler Half Marathon/Sean St Denis

I’ve raced the Whistler Half twice now, and each time been stunned by the snow-capped peaks, lush coastal forests and glacier-fed lakes. If you’re toeing the line for the Whistler Half Marathon, here’s my 4 tips to make the most of the race and the rest of the weekend.

1. Watch out for Blueberry Hill

The Whistler Half course is challenging. And, as you would expect from a race in a mountain town, there are some large climbs. The first and largest of these is the infamous Blueberry Hill. After a fast descent from Whistler Village, the climb can surprise first-timers as it appears early in the race at around 2 or 3 km.

Take your time, focus on your breathing and shorten your stride. There is a false top to the hill so try not to look up too much and get discouraged by how far you have to go. Remember to look left at the top of the hill for a panoramic view of snow-capped Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, then enjoy the sweeping downhill section that comes next.

2. Save your energy

Despite Blueberry Hill, most of the elevation gain and loss over the Whistler Half is in the first 10 km, and the remainder of the course feels relatively flat in comparison.

Many runners will push hard at the start, spurred on by the excitement of the race and the cheering crowds. But in my experience this early rush starts to hurt in the later stages of the race when lactate builds and temperatures rise. Save your legs over the initial climbs and you’ll be surprised how many runners you’ll pass by keeping a consistent pace through the second half of the race.

3. Stick around post-race

After you’ve raced your way to the finish line, you’ll want to take in the post-race celebrations in Whistler’s Olympic Plaza, the location for the medal ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics. On race day this area will be packed with runners and their support teams. But perhaps what finishers will find most enticing is the post-race food.

The Whistler Half Marathon and North Face put on, in my opinion, the best post-run spread. From yoghurts to fruit, bagels and cookies, the race team and their sponsor do not disappoint. Hungry runners shouldn’t miss the North Face branded cheese toasties!

2015 SSD WHM-912 Web

Photo credit: Whistler Half Marathon/Sean St Denis

4. Check out other events around Whistler

Dave Clark, Race Director of the Whistler Half Marathon, speaks openly about his goal to make Whistler a destination for runners, as well as skiers and bikers. As part of this, the Whistler Half has developed from being solely about the race into an activity-filled weekend.

A pre-race Carbo Load dinner at the Wild Wood Pacific Bistro in the Crystal Lodge is a must for runners looking for a hearty meal before race day. If you can’t make the Carbo Load dinner, make sure to come back for their breakfast. It’s a local’s favourite and you won’t be disappointed.

New for 2016 is the Trails in Motion Film Festival taking place at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 7PM on race day. This is a not-to-miss event and an exciting addition to the event lineup this year. Check out the trailer below to get inspired by some incredible stories of adventure on the trails.

See you at the start line!


katharine millsKatharine Mills is a trail and ultra runner living in North Vancouver. Originally from the UK, she lived in Whistler for two years before making the move to the city. Compared to the UK, she thinks Canada has an incredible lifestyle, but terrible tea. Her favourite things are exploring the wilds of the BC backcountry, racing mountain bikers down the trails of North Vancouver, and Honey’s Doughnuts from Deep Cove.


May 15, 2016


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