Monday, January 23, 2017

Race Report: Zoo Run Run 1.21.17

As part of our goal to run one race per month in 2017, Adam and I ran the Zoo Run Run 5K at the Nashville Zoo on Saturday, January 21. We have a zoo membership so we were able to save $5 on our entries, making them $30 each since we registered before December 31.

We've been having unusually warm weather the last couple of weeks, so we didn't have to bundle up like we expected when we registered. It was nice to wear shorts and short sleeves!

We arrived about an hour before race time, and it's a good thing we did. The line to get your stuff was ridiculous. They had ONE place with two people to pick up your bib. Ridiculous. I had said years ago that I would never run another race managed by I Run for the Party, so shame on me for doing so. The long line was the first reminder of why I don't like races they manage. There is just no reason to not have multiple volunteers and lines for people to quickly check in. It's a big event, and I have no doubt most people pre-registered. They knew how many people were coming, so there's no reason to not be prepared.

Once we finally got up there, we were handed the next two numbers in the stack. If you wanted to have a timing chip and a number assigned to you, you had to pay more. Ridiculous. I get it that the zoo is a non-profit, and they didn't want to pay for timing chips unless people wanted them. However, it is not common in the area to have to pay more for a chip. Maybe I know too much from having planned quite a few races, but I think a better option is to have chips for everyone at the same registration price and allow people to opt out. It's easy to add a note in that section of online registration saying that you can save the zoo money if you opt out and to please do so if you don't care about your time.

Once we finally got everything (the shirt was a long-sleeve cotton shirt in a nice blue with a rhino on the front - a bit simplistic, but at least I'll wear it), we took stuff back to the car and walked around for a bit.

The race didn't start on time (no surprise there with the long lines at check-in), we couldn't hear any of the announcements, and the start line was so crowded that we could barely get into the pack. It became clear that there were a lot of people there who do not have much race experience. I have NO problem with this; however, because no one could hear announcements and there wasn't enough room in the start area, walkers and strollers were all up in the very front. We didn't line up all that far back, and we spent the first mile trying to get past all the people who weren't even running.

We knew that we would not see animal as we ran, but I wasn't expecting to have such a boring run. Most of the race is on paths that are sort of behind the scenes of the zoo, and there just wasn't much to look at. We did get to run through the zoo toward the end, and it was neat. However, the entire race, the paths are super narrow and can't handle as many runners as were out there.

My biggest beef is that the course was short by about a tenth of a mile. I figured I was going to finish and my watch tell me I ran long because I was running on the outside on all the turns, etc. When I finished and it said 2.99 and Adam's said 3.0 (he ran a bit more inside than me), I was baffled. Our Apple watches are pretty accurate, so it was frustrating to feel like the course was measured short. I don't think it's a certified course, so I know that's always a risk. It just doesn't help my "I'm not running I Run for the Party events" mentality.

It was nice that they had Little Caesar's pizza and Michelob Ultra at the end. We had a slice of pizza and beer, but then we took off since we knew traffic getting out of the zoo would be bad if we hung around too long.

We finished in around 35 minutes after a combination of running and walking. We're excited to see the times drop as we get back in better shape.

All in all, we were glad to get our first race done and support the zoo. However, we're unlikely to do this race again. I'm also back to my stance on not running races managed by this crew.

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