Saturday, March 2, 2013

ZooZoom 5k

by Meghann on March 2, 2013

ROAR!!! We survived the chase at the Lowry Park Zoo this morning!


Mary was lucky enough to win two free race entries for the ZooZoom 5k through a Yelp giveaway and asked if I wanted to be her race buddy. No need to ask twice, I said yes before she even finished asking the question. πŸ˜‰ I’d never done race through a zoo before! It sounded like a blast to me!


We arrived at the zoo around 7:00 this morning to blue skies and a wonderful chill to the air (awesome running weather!).

Derek was my hot date for the morning, waking up early and taking over the role of supportive husband/ spectator.


Brooks was kind enough to hook Derek up with some spectating essentials, including:


The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s are actually an updated version of the Brooks Adrenaline 10s he’s been running in for the last three years. It’s a stability shoe that was named Runner’s World Editor’s Choice in the Fall Shoe Guide in their December 2012 issue. Derek has done a couple of runs in the shoes and loved the updated feel of the shoes, including a noticeable difference in support. He was hoping to run the 5k in the new kicks this morning, but a nasty cold has temporarily sidelined him. (He headed back to the warmth of the car before the race even started πŸ™ ).


Speaking of staying warm in cars, that’s where Mary was hiding before the race. Smart girl! We found her a few minutes before the start and took one last photo before race time.


The race was “old school” – no timing chips, no fancy race bibs, and no timers on the course. It was just you, the road, and the few zoo animals you ran into along the way. Heck, there wasn’t even a microphone or speaker system for the race director to say “Go.” Mary and I had just joined the crowd of 300 or so runners at the start when all of a sudden they started moving. I was still fiddling with my iPod when I started running.


The crowds were thick in the beginning of the 5k, but thinned out rather quickly. Mary and I separated for the first quarter of a mile as we weaved in and out of the crowds, then eventually found each other at a steady pace. Neither of us were truly racing the 5k, we were using it as a short and speedy training run. I tried to not look at my Garmin and instead just ran what felt tough, but comfortable.


(all race photos courtesy of Mary)

The first mile wrapped us around the parking lot, onto the main road, and back to the entrance of the zoo. We entered the zoo at mile two and had the park to ourselves as we twisted and turned through the African Safari, the new DinoQuest exhibit, the rhinos, giraffes, and half a dozen other animals.



There was even a point where we went through the underwater exhibit and ran right beside the manatees and sea turtles. I think that was my favorite part. πŸ™‚


Running through the zoo was really, really cool, but unfortunately the course wasn’t well marked. At the beginning we were glad there were runners ahead of us guiding the way (otherwise there’s no way we would have known to go up a ramp or turn left), then somehow our group made a wrong turn and Mary and I took over the lead when back tracking. We weren’t the lead runners, just the lead in the small pack of runners we were with. It was like the blind leading the blind. There were a few forks in the road we just plain guessed where to go.

Luckily the last part was just a back track of the first. Once we figured that out, it was a clear shot to the end. My shoe came untied in the last mile and I made a very quick 10 second stop to retie it. Mary pulled ahead and sprinted to the finish.


I came in about thirty seconds after Mary finishing in roughly 25:15.

Wonderful collage created by Photogrid.jpg

As we finished, they handed each runner a timing card to document our finish time and age group placings. However, since we didn’t stay around for the results (and I can’t find them online), I have no idea how we did. I do know that I was the 29th runner to cross the finish line. Gotta love a small race where you can finish in 25 minutes and still only be the 29th finisher. πŸ™‚  

There was also a great spread of food and drinks at the finish line, including yummy Jamba Juice smoothie samples and Chick-Fil-A chicken minis, you can’t beat that post- race food. πŸ™‚


Despite the wrong turn and confusion on the course, I thought this was a great 5k. It was fun to run through the zoo and have a little bit of different scenery than your standard neighborhood or city views. I felt great through the whole race and was proud for not starting too fast or feeling awful at the finish line. It was also nice to run a small hometown race. No frills, no thrills, just running. It was the perfect no-pressure race to run with a friend.

Thanks, Lowry Park Zoo, for putting on a great race. πŸ™‚

After the race, I treated Derek to breakfast at a local diner. We both enjoyed omelets and potatoes. Yum!


Have you ever run a race at a zoo?

If you’re a Tampa Bay local, Lowry Park Zoo also has a fall race called the Zoo Run. πŸ™‚

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