As races go, this wasn’t the most scenic – although certainly pretty with a start in the stately, English heart of the city and with a route that traversed Victoria’s harbor, the island’s coastline with the imposing Olympic Range across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and that passed through the Beacon Hill Park with its gorgeous flowers and gardens – even in October. It certainly wasn’t the biggest – although with nearly 6,000 runners in the Half – it was a large race. Nor was it the race with the best logistical support throughout (to wit, a lack of porta-potties for Karen and hydration stops that were a bit far apart initially) – although it received passable grades. And it wasn’t even my fastest race – although my time was among the top five in the “Karen Era”. But the combination of everything it had to offer and the charm of BC’s Provincial Capitol were not lost upon us – and our return trip was an excellent one – indeed one that would beckon us yet again.
The ferry crossing from Tsawassen BC to the island set the stage, with the beautiful and green mountainous islands charting our course. Once on Vancouver Island, our visit extended to no more than its southernmost 15-20 miles, with pastoral landscapes of forested hills, verdant fields – including some that were totally orange with an immense harvest of pumpkins still afield – charming coastal villages, and old English charm in the center of Victoria. We enjoyed visits to Provincial Parks, regional parks atop mountains overlooking the island, the Royal BC Museum – which was most impressive with its collection of natural history and native peoples exhibits, an old English residence most resembling a castle, parks and gardens, a seaside fishing village with a renowned collection of independent booksellers, and unspoiled coastline with an charming Inn whose culinary offerings were exclusively those of the Island.
Despite the British aura of the area, even the food was good! And we were able to share part of the visit with Karen’s best friend, Teresa, who joined us with her husband and boys the day before the race and made sure Rachel was in good hands during the race. All in all, a most satisfying trip – to a destination we would highly recommend.
A trip such as this serves as a good reminder that any race is much more than a start and a finish. The route and everything along the way – indeed the journey – is what makes a race memorable. I know there have been races where I have been so focused that I have missed much of what a course had to offer.
There have also been races where what has been offered along the route was what made the race what it was – and in some cases most successful – even when viewed from the finish time. No doubt, the analogy with life is most appropriate. It is more than a quest to reach the destination – it is all about the Journey. Victoria helped us appreciate that again. Take time to smell the roses and, while you are at it, notice the color. You may be surprised.