The Oasis Toronto Zoo Run is an annual 5k/10k/kid’s race that takes place in and around the Toronto Zoo. This year I had the pleasure of racing in the 5k and it is a race that I highly recommend. This year’s race took place on September 23rd. Normally this time of year promises mild temperatures and weather, however this year it was over 30 degrees!
The 5k race begins near the main zoo entrance on the Zoomobile path, and winds around back access roads and up and down the twisting, hilly paths of the zoo. The 10k follows a similar route for the back half, while the first few km’s are on the roads surrounding the zoo. It’s definitely not a flat course, and the twists and turns make it almost as technical as some trail runs! There was a single hydration station along the route offering water and Gatorade (unfortunate, but better than nothing). Course was VERY well marked with tons of volunteers and staff to guide you and large signs every km.
The zoo run was one of the most well-organized races that I’ve done in a while. Despite having over 6000 people arriving on the grounds in a short time span, parking was easy and well-coordinated, packet pickup was quick and organized, and there were signs everywhere to help guide attendees. There were significant numbers of staff and volunteers on hand to coordinate the flow of just about everything. I can’t find anything negative to say about the organization – it was done really well.
Swag and Everything Else
All participants received a very nice cotton t-shirt (probably the softest shirt I have ever worn), and all finishers received well-designed medals. There was plenty of food, juice and samples on site. On top of it all, the biggest ‘swag’ is that after the race you get free admission to the zoo and free parking! It’s a great value when you add it all up and compare it to the registration fee. The only negative thing I could find about this race was that there was only a single hydration station for the 5k race. If you’re racing fast it’s not a big deal, but for those expecting a 30-40 minute finish, or who are walking or pushing a stroller, more fluids on course would’ve been helpful – especially with the extreme heat that day.
The Bottom Line
The Toronto Zoo Run is a fantastic race in the Canada Running Series. With decent swag, free zoo admission and (usually) nice cool fall weather, it’s got all of the ingredients for a fun fall run. The staff and volunteers were exceptionally well organized. Would race it again and highly recommend giving it a try.