On April 29th I got back into the 5k game with the Run for the Wild 5k at the Bronx Zoo! With 5,197 participants this race was pretty huge. It was amazing to see such a turn out to support The Wildlife Conservation Society!
Personally I cannot imagine trying to organize an event for that many people, so overall I would say that this was a great success. That said, there were some things that I hope they’ll do differently in the future.
At the start of the race we gathered in the starting corral and were led in some stretching and warm ups only to then have each of the sponsors say a few words. Every time someone finished talking and we thought it was time to run, some other sponsor came up to say a few words. So we ended up standing around for a half hour after stretching! It was sort of comical how backwards that was but it also caused the race to start late. Between the speakers and the 7 minute, 8 minute, 9 minute, and 10+ minute mile waves being staggered (and the 10+ group was so large it had to be broken into a few waves) some people didn’t even start running until 8:45. On a day where the temperature is supposed to hit 80 the start time matters.
The other issue is that the course starts out very narrow and stays narrow for a really long time. There seemed to be some construction going on to one side which hopefully next year won’t be an issue. It took much longer than was ideal for the runners to be able to spread out and hit a stride. I felt like I was losing full minutes off my time stuck in a crowd and unable to actually run for so long. With such a large number of runners it may have been wise to break the waves up even more than they did, although that would extend the start time even further for the final waves– like I said, I would never want to try to organize an event of this size, kudos are still in order for this race!
There was a lot of emphasis from the announcer that the race is not timed so please no jockeying for position, but in general, I am not running a 5k for my health– you may not be timing me but I am timing me.
In spite of the rocky start this race was a blast. It is really cool to just run by some flamingos and then run by some giraffes. Having peacocks flying past as you take a turn or seeing vultures at the top of a hill (not because you are dying from running up a hill, because they are part of the zoo!) is a really novel experience. The Zoo staff and volunteers were also out in full force cheering for us as we ran. I love that.
The hills on the course were frequent and often rather steep but luckily none of them seemed to go on forever. I always like a winding course where there is always a curve or a hill or some point of interest to keep you moving. Or animal landmarks, “Okay, when I see the ibex I can go easy, just gotta go hard til I reach the ibex”
But then you get to the ibex and it looks at you like that ^ and you know you have to speed up or it will judge you.
When the race was over the post-race booths were cool as always; I love race SWAG. We got temporary tattoos and a little sport towel and various other odds and ends from the race sponsors and then we were free to roam the zoo (I was not stopping to take pictures while I was running!). Unfortunately our $50 entry and mandatory $30 donation did not include the monorail where we could have seen hippos and elephants, but that’s cool… I guess the rhino was close enough.
It felt great to get back in the swing of things with a 5k like this one. Between this race, the June 3rd Night Nation Run and all my classes on class pass I will be totally ready to crush it at the Rugged Maniac.
As you know I am running the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon in October and raising money for Back on My Feet!
Please help me meet my fundraising goal with a small donation here: