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Toronto Zoo Run ~ 10K, September 22, 2012

I’ve heard a lot about the Oasis sponsored Zoo run.  Always good things. So, I decided to commit to the 2012 race as part of my fall marathon training schedule.  This way here, I too could say “I’ve run that race”…

To start, the first thing I’d like to mention is the cost. It’s almost seventy-five dollars.  That’s not pocket change; almost the same price as some full marathon races.  If you’re the type that works around a budget, then this race is hard to justify.  Sure, you’ll meet some elite runners (I shook Reid Coolsaet’s hand at the finish line), you get to run at the Toronto zoo, and potentially see some of the animals,  (I say potentially, as it’s early morning, and a good deal of the animals are still a sleep), and yes, it’s hard to argue that the actual course isn’t a good one, but then again, there are many other 10K races that offer a lot of similar attractions too – maybe not the scenery, but all the rest including: great grab bag, water/aid stations, accurate timing, free parking, bag check and professional photography.

I enjoyed the 10K course. It’s a technical course.  Lot’s of up’s and downs; there are  both short and long stretches.  Additionally, there are a few tight/sharp turns that force the runner to slow down potentially ruining the pace/rhythm that’s been established, however, the majority of the surface is paved, and is level; add the great surroundings – you find yourself in a runner’s heaven.  If you’re looking to set a new PR, this really isn’t the venue. The aforementioned reasons don’ t lend themselves to fast times like a flat, out and back tarmac course.  Running in and outside of the Toronto zoo was a nice change from the daily grind of running in either a rural or urban area. The race directors did a great job of marking out the course with “K” markers, and there are plenty of signs and race marshals to direct you as well.

Besides the astronomical price, there is one grievance that I do have with the event. It’s popularity attracts a lot of runners, and although the race organizers do their best to ensure runners of similar ability start in the correct corral, it’s my opinion that the time spreads are far too generous. For example, the fastest corral – red, included runners with anticipated finish times as high as fifty minutes. Why is this a bad thing? Well, simply put, the start of the race is nothing short of madness.  Runners bumping and shoving. It’s not pleasant at all.  Add the fact that at the start, the course winds its way down hill, and, as it was on this particular day, if the surface is silk due to rainfall, there is the ever danger of getting hurt.  Sadly, that’s not my idea of having fun.  It isn’t until the runners thin out that things normalize.

What I’m learning is that many of the urban (read Toronto) city 10K’s attract a lot of runners. (Read my report about the Yonge Street 10K).  For a variety of reasons, the races accommodate a lot runners, and as such, a common observation (or complaint) that I have is that the opening kilometers of the race are very stressful, and the intended “fun” is lost, especially if you’re scheduled to run other races later in the season.  Twisted ankles or the potential for much worse, I, we, don’t need.

For fear of sounding like a hypocrite, I have to admit that I would recommend the Zoo run 10K to other runners.  You’ve gotta run it at least once.  Although expensive, the overall experience is, generally speaking, a positive one.  I will admit, that in the future I plan to stick with smaller regional events similar to the Grand Valley 10K, Port Credit 10K or even Emily’s Run.  Dollar for dollar, I feel that these smaller races offer as much as the more popular 10K Toronto based events.   It’s not that I’m anti-social, claustrophobic, or dislike a larger crowd, but instead I for one, don’t like running in events that feel like a kick-boxing match.  Constant pushing and shoving,  getting cut off, and cutting off even if only for the first few K’s is not my cup of tea.


Avid outdoorsman. Live in small rural community with many opportunities to get outside! Running is my passion, but do frequently get out on my bike, and while up north at the cottage, get my share of swimming in. Look forward to a great 2012 season, and am looking for interested individuals to compete in Adventure racing.

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