The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has one of the most scenic and historic race routes in Canada. And as participants won’t have the opportunity to stop and enjoy many of the sights on race day, we thought we would take you all on a course tour over the next four weeks, so you can experience the culture and heritage that will surround you on your marathon or half marathon journey.
We will start with the first five kilometres. We start on Menzies at Kingston, right beside the BC Legislature. We don’t have the space here to write a history of this magnificent 106 year-old building, designed by Francis Rattenbury, but as everyone who has visited Victoria knows, it is one of our famous landmarks. Heading south then taking a left at Michigan we can see the bustling shops and coffee houses that is so James Bay. Past the Michigan Street Allotment Garden to Government St. If you go right for two blocks you will see Emily Carr House, the childhood home of the famous Canadian Painter. But we won’t go off course today, instead we turn left running down to the Inner Harbour with the Leg (as we Victorians affectionately call it) on our left and the Royal BC Museum on the right. Home to thousands of BC archives, the museum has many permanents exhibits, but after the race check out the Mammoths exhibition on until December.
Just around the corner to the museum’s right is Helmcken House which is claimed to be the oldest house in BC and open to the public. With the Inner Harbour on our left and the Fairmont Empress Hotel on the right we run towards Wharf and the one-kilometre mark of the marathon. Past Bastion Square , turning right up Johnson, we enter a bustling shopping area that comprises ethnic stores and unique restaurants bordered by Market Square and Chinatown.
Once on Johnson we have a gradual hill climb for a kilometre reaching Cook Street at three kilometres. Half way to Cook, at Blanshard, is the Atrium Building that takes up a city block. Check out the eclectic restaurants on the ground floor – this is becoming the trendy place to eat and meet. Right on Cook and then we see a change in scenery. Car dealerships lead to small local retail stores and then from Rockland, apartment buildings.
At four kilometres we enter a favourite place – Cook St Village. How many coffee/breakfast eateries can you have in one area? Well it seems a lot and all have their own loyal customers. But you can’t stop yet and enjoy. But you can pick out your spot for your post run treat. At Park, take a right and we are now bordering on Beacon Hill Park. As I write this I can just see the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club through the trees, all decked out in their whites. Established in 1909, the club is open daily from April – mid-October and features tournaments and leagues for all ages. They even have Saturday tea days. How civilized!
Run up Park to Heywood and right again until Pendergast and we are done. Five kilometres down, 37 to go. See you next week.