Running in Victoria

Victoria is located on the southern tip of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Downtown Victoria is a tourist-friendly hub with nice restaurants, boutiques, and events to keep you as busy as you want to be. Check out Tourism Victoria on your favourite social media platform for frequent updates.

Victoria is situated on a foundation of basalt rock making for hilly terrain. Along the coastline, and part of the Royal Victoria Marathon course, runners will encounter these rolling hills.

From the city centre, the three main areas which draw runners are: Beacon Hill Park, Dallas Road, and Esquimalt. Beacon Hill Park has a perimeter of 3.5K with chip trails at some points along this perimeter. Dallas Road is well over 10K in length running along the coastline with picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and mountains located in Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula. Both of these areas are on the half- and full-marathon course of the Royal Victoria Marathon. To access Esquimalt from downtown, runners cross the Johnson St. Bridge to get on the Songhees Walkway which runs along the west side of Victoria Harbour.
A view of the coastline along Dallas Road with Washington state's Olympic Peninsula in the background

If you decide to do some bike riding in Victoria, you’ll most likely be rewarded as there is a major trail system, the Galloping Goose system, which runs east and north of the city for many kilometres.

Outside the city centre there are lots of great trails for trail running and hiking:
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Elevation Challenge 
Victoria’s hilly terrain is found not only along the coastline! Try this 5-Peak elevation challenge around Victoria to see if you can climb 1000m.  The 5 peaks are: Mount Finlayson (419m), Bear Hill (220m), Mount Douglas (225m), Mount Tolmie (120m), and Christmas Hill (109m).

Can you make it to the top of each during your stay in Victoria? For an extra challenge, can you make all 5 in one day? 
A view of the Salish Sea and Washington state's Mount Baker from atop Mount Tolmie
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On the city of Victoria website, the climate is described as “Sub-Mediterranean” which makes for inviting running conditions throughout the year. For average temperatures, highs of 8°C (46°F) and lows of 5°C (41°F) can be expected from November to January. These temperatures gradually climb to highs of 20°C (68°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F) in July and August.

From November to January, the average precipitation each month is around 100mm (4 inches) with about 14 days of precipitation per month. Victoria’s average precipitation gradually decreases to about 15mm (.6 inch) with 3 days of precipitation in July.

The wind can come up in Victoria, especially along coastline running routes.
Esquimalt's Songhees Walkway runs along the west side of Victoria Harbour

With this climate profile, runners would be wise to bring a nylon jacket and hat to resist rain and wind during fall, winter, and spring months. It would also be a good idea to bring thermal running clothing during these seasons. 

Average ocean water temperatures in Victoria range from 7°C (44°F) in February to 11°C (51°F) in August which brings us to the next challenge:
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Recovery Challenge
Have you ever used cold water as a means to recover from your running workouts? In Victoria you have a great opportunity to do this. Bring your swimsuit and head down to the east end of Ross Bay for a short but sweet recovery swim. You will likely see other swimmers there at around 9:00 AM throughout the year. Additionally, AS THIS NEWS ARTICLE REPORTS, Ross Bay isn’t the only bay in Victoria where ocean water swimming takes place throughout the year.
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Getting There
Victoria is relatively easy to reach by air travel. It has an international airport serviced by major airlines. It is possible to take a seaplane from Vancouver harbour to Victoria harbour. If driving, you will need to take a car ferry from Vancouver (Tsawwassen ferry terminal) or, an alternative route from the United States - Port Angeles, Washington (check to make sure this ferry is running ahead of time). Accommodation is relatively easy to arrange online.
The Moss Lady awaits runners in Beacon Hill Park

Race Calendar 
A sampling of the race calendar for Victoria:
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Readers may be interested in these posts if travelling and running:

Trying to fit some running into your vacation schedule? For more on this topic, check out an earlier post: Maintaining Running Fitness on Vacation .

Or maybe you're planning to get in a block of training during a long-stay in a place like Victoria? For more on this topic, check out an earlier post: Reflections on a Winter Running Camp .

This post is part of a series on destinations for running and hiking. For more, check out:

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Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel.