Marathoner Rika Hatachi practices determination, endurance, and above all, gratitude

More than just long-term runners of the BMO Vancouver Marathon, RUNVAN Community Ambassadors are leaders in Vancouver who embody the Vancouver International Marathon Society’s mission, vision, and values. Elite and recreational runners, business leaders, or local heroes, these superstars find joy in motivating and inspiring others through running. They’re also comfortable with public speaking and tend to be regulars at our running events throughout the year.

Rika Hatachi grew up in Japan and moved to Canada in 1990. She began racing in 2009 when she was 41. Her first marathon was the Vancouver Marathon, and her time was 3:24:30.  So far, Rika has run 17 marathons. Her personal best is 2:59:38 at the Surrey International World Music Marathon.Marathonfoto2sb-2

RUNVAN: Take us back to the first time you ran in the Vancouver Marathon or Half Marathon. What was it like? How long ago was it? What do you think has changed since then?

Rika Hatachi: I ran the Vancouver Marathon for the first time in 2010.  I was so excited, as I had never run a marathon before! Even though I’ve run many more since then, I still get excited before any race because each race is unique and special.

What has changed is my level of experience, of course. Specifically, I’ve now experienced all sorts fears associated with running a marathon: the fear of pain, injury, missing my target goal time, losing, etc. Facing my fears has helped me to truly enjoy running the entire distance.

RV: Name a few of your favourite points along our new course. Why do they stand out for you?

RH: My favorite point is the long, downhill stretch just before Spanish Banks. At times there’s a break in the trees, and I can see the ocean. I always get a good speed going and feel very energetic at this point—I think part of that energetic feeling comes from realizing how lucky I am to be able to run in a beautiful place like Vancouver!

My second favourite part is the Finish Line, of course. I love to see all the cheering people along West Pender Street, a huge reward for completing my journey—not just the journey I made from start to finish on race day, but also the journey I began before that, the many kilometres I logged in the months leading up to the race.

RV: Tell us about your favourite local running route or trail.

RH: My favourite local running trails are the Buntzen Lake & Diez Vistas trails near Port Moody, BC, where I live. When I take a day off from work, my husband and I usually lace up and head onto the trails for a run. We really enjoy running in nature.

RV: What is your pre-race routine? Runners would love to hear about your favourite meal to have the night before a race, your superstitious habits, or even your warm-up routine.

RH: I try NOT to have a strict pre-race routine, as much as possible. But I do usually have the same kind of meal the night before a race. I particularly like having grilled unagi (eel) with steamed rice.  Yes, I am Japanese!

RV: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a parent, coach, or mentor about running? OR got your own advice? Share it here, too.

RH: More than anything, you must try to enjoy each moment in the race. Focus on the good parts: you’re running the race for the fun and not for the struggle.

Also, try to be thankful; remember to appreciate your ability to live, to run, and to be yourself.

I strongly believe that practicing gratitude during your runs will give you the incredible strength and support from within yourself that you need to complete a marathon, especially when you’re going through that tough time toward the end of the race.