On September 22nd Andrew and I headed down to the Toronto Zoo to participate in the 2012 Oasis 10K Zoo run. This was our first time running in this event and both were a little intrigued by running through the zoo.
The weatherman was not very kind to us as it was expected to be cool and wet. I don’t mind running in the rain, but hate being wet and cold. I only mention the weather as it gives a good reason as to why the roads and trails were a little wet.
We left Orangeville with plenty of time to pick up our race kit (opened at 6:45am) and get to our corral for the 8:15am Start. I am a little glad we left early as when we were warming up at 7:30ish, there was probably a 2KM line of cars trying to get into the zoo. Plan ahead and arrive early.
Parking for this event is free and spectators get into the zoo at half price, so if you have a family it could be a nice little outing at a reduced cost. That would be if the 10K run wasn’t priced at around $70 after fees. A steep price for a 10K in my mind, but could be justified if you were to make a day out of it. I was expecting a little bit more in the race kit than the normal short sleeve race shirt and oasis juice box.
There is a corral system for this race which is nice as 3000 runners make the run every year. The breakdown was corral 1) <51 minutes, 2) 52-59, 3) 1:00, 4) 1:01-1:14, 5) 1:14+. A couple things I found weird is that the first corral was so wide open. You had 50 minute runners in the same corral as our Olympic Marathoner Mr. Coolsaet. Most people within the corral lined up appropriately but as always we had some runners near the front who didn’t belong. The race was also delayed 5 minutes, and I can only assume it was due to the traffic jam to get into the zoo. It should also be noted that all runners had to be in the corrals at the start of the race and each corral went off 5 minutes apart. So that means that people in corral 5 would be starting 20 minutes after the gun goes off.
The first part of the race was fairly jam packed with not a lot of room to pass or set your own pace. A fairly steep drop at the beginning was a little worrisome with the slick roads and a few sharp turns made for an interesting first KM. That first K was pretty much all decline with a 180 degree turn at the bottom of it. I hate these style of turns where a pylon is put out and you essentially have to slow down and then pick it back up again. There were two of these types in the run.
You don’t actually enter the Zoo until about 5K in and then the last 5K are a series of windy paths, up and down until you make your way in to the end. There is a couple hills from KM 8 in that really beat you up if you didn’t save anything. I found the course to be a nice change from straight, flat road races, but all the direction changes and ups/downs will definitely add some time to your run.
The normal finish line foods were available and you could also do a little more exercise, pushups/situps etc at a subway kiosk and get a bag full of goodies. I didn’t partake as I really didn’t feel like doing any more exercise lol. A major problem I had was that the parking lot and your vehicle was probably about a 2-3K hike from the finish line. A suggestion to the run organizers would be either shuttles, or a quicker route than walking pretty much the course backwards.
I don’t know if it was the weather or the early morning but I didn’t see many animals at all. I saw a zebra and a seagull, which I don’t think was part of an exhibit.
In summary I would definitely say that the race is an enjoyable one. It is a very nice change from an everyday road race and you get to attempt to challenge some pretty elite runners. The price tag would be the only thing holding me back from doing this race again.