Yesterday was going to be a fun 5K that I was doing with my friends. My best friend’s FIRST 5K I might add. In my opinion, it was one of the most disappointing I’ve ever done. Although, one would argue I didn’t even do it, but we’ll get to that.
The race was the Run Wild 5K, held at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA. It was a nighttime race, held after the zoo closed after regular hours. The weather was not very nice to us – low 90s, humidity around 80% and a severe thunderstorm/flash flood/possible tornado warnings. Grrrrreat. We actually lucked out that it never rained on us, but at certain points we were hoping it would, just to cool us down. It was a scorcher!
The first thing I didn’t enjoy about this race was the lack of communication. I had told everyone about this race and thought it would be a fun one for us to all walk together. We all love animals and who wouldn’t want to run a race through a zoo! Typically, as a race gets closer you get emails telling you all the particulars that you’ll need to know. I waited all week, but we didn’t receive our first actual race communication until almost 7pm the night before the race – only to tell us that they would email us our bib #’s in the morning.
Now, when I registered Tara and myself, the confirmations clearly stated each of our names in the confirmation emails for our respective registration. It was very obvious I registered two people. By the time we got the emails with our bibs the following morning (sent at almost noon – when packet pick-up was set to start), I received two emails again, but each one only had Tara’s name and bib #. It made me a bit concerned, but when we got there and picked up, they had both our names and two different bibs so I figured we were good to go.
We had gotten there extremely early. In this heat, it turned out not to be such a great idea, but we thought we were going to beat the traffic we had seen on our way up from RI. Turns out I was thinking we’d be going a different way than we did. I think we probably got there right around 3:00 or just after. We thought we’d spend that time going around looking at the animals, since our bibs got us free admission to the zoo.
We ended up finding some shaded seating and sat there for an hour or more until the race started. We didn’t even need to move to break a sweat. Since the four of us were going to walk (I’m the only runner), I decided I would ruck the course to get some training in where I can. Once everybody started lining up, we stood up to get ready to head to the back of the line. Turns out where it said “start” was on the wrong side of the line, so they told everybody we needed to move so the entire pack had to move to the other side of the start line and turn around to face the “finish” portion of the banner. Very confusing! Once we did that, the MC said a few words about the cancer charity we raised money for and then we were off. No National Anthem or anything.
It was very clear from the start that we were what seemed like the only walkers in the group. It turned out there was one couple walking ahead of us, but they gained a quick lead and only gained more from there, so basically we were walking by ourselves, other than the turnaround where the leaders passed us. We were immediately concerned with the lack of signage and whether or not there would be people to direct us where to go since we couldn’t see anyone ahead of us. The course, as it turns out, was only in the zoo for maybe the length of a football field, if that*. After that, we were out in the general public, running through a parking lot, into the woods on some trail, back through a football stadium where we looped around 3/4 of the track and back again. Very strange. I have to say, the volunteers we did pass were fantastic! They were all very encouraging and made sure we always knew where we were going. Once we got into the trail portion in the woods, there was much better signage about turns we needed to take and we also felt safer because there was a guy patrolling on a mountain bike that passed us 2 or 3 times. The volunteers were one, maybe the only, positive about this race.
After we finally made it back to the zoo, almost an hour later, we were really just hoping they would still have the finish line up. We realized that the photographer had already taken off, so we wouldn’t get a finisher photo. Now, for me, it’s not a big deal because I’ve done this tons of times, but we’ve never done anything as a group and Julie had never done one at all so I really wanted her to have one. It was highly disappointing, but I shouldn’t say I was surprised. This same photographer didn’t even snap a photo of us at the start because by the time we got to the front he was already turning his camera upside down and climbing down off of whatever little thing he had been perched on to take the start photos.
We were so done with the whole thing that by the time we finished, we really just wanted some water. They were having a big after party with all sorts of craft beers they had talked about, but didn’t mention anything else they would have. We saw people eating food, but didn’t know where to get it. The only thing we saw was a tent for Naked Juice (which only Tara took part in), or a couple of things of bottled water you pumped into a cup. I guess they had pizza and maybe something else*, but we never saw it and were just too hot to hang around.
*As of the time of me writing this Sunday night, we’ve realized a couple more things. When we finished the race and I stopped my Garmin and Runkeeper, and Julie stopped her Runkeeper, we realized we were around 1/4 mile short – it was around 2.77 miles. I didn’t think anything of it and didn’t really care because we weren’t technically racing. As I looked at the “details” link from the email (that I see also gives more detail on the food situation), it shows the course does a whole loop around the back when you come back IN to the zoo – but no one was there to direct us to that point. This would mean also that maybe the finish line wasn’t backwards? Who knows. We never saw these details because we didn’t see the email until we’d already left the house and really only needed our bib #’s to get in. Had we gotten it sooner and had more time to check out all the links, maybe I wouldn’t be so annoyed.
In addition, we’ve never received an email re: results, but I did find a link on the zoo race page for results. Upon viewing the results, I’M NOT EVEN IN THE LIST OF FINISHERS!! So what I thought was just an emailing glitch? Not so much.
Even through the misery of the weather and the lackluster race direction, I still think we had a fun time together. We always do. I just wish that Julie could have had the kind of experience I have when I run a race, versus the “walker” experience or those that finish at the back of the pack. I was actually surprised at the lack of walkers in this race. Oh well – lesson learned! Next time we’ll pick a better one, but we’ll always have fun.