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Run Wild 5K Race Recap

on September 7, 2014

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.

 

 

 

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17 responses to “Run Wild 5K Race Recap

  1. Kristin says:

    Hey!!! Sorry it wasn’t the best experience for your best friend!! 😦 Very cool that you guys did it and made the best of it though!! Way to go!!

  2. Hi Courtney. Alain here, the race director of yesterday’s race. I want to start with an apology – we tried really hard to make yesterday’s race an amazing experience for everyone, but it sounds like we failed for you and your friends. I’m sorry about that.

    I’m going to address the issues you mention, with hopes that you feel a little less miffed and give us another chance by coming to another RACE Cancer Foundation race in the future.

    You wrote:
    “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.”
    —>We put all the information on our website at racecancer.org so that we do not need to bombard you with emails before the race. I always try to send an email with your bib number on the day of the event to save you time at number pick-up. For this race, I made an exception and emailed everyone the night before since there was a threat of thunderstorms in the forecast.

    “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 #.”
    —>You entered your email address on both your and Tara’s registrations. Email marketing software sends only one email per email address. So if two people are registered with the same (ie, duplicate) email address, only one person will get the email. That’s why there was a link in the email which stated “All bib numbers here.” Both you and Tara were on that list.

    “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.”
    —>The start line was the same as the finish line. Same line, same direction. We have a start banner and a finish banner and can’t change banners mid-race, so we opted to hang the start so the runners could see it from registration, just in case they had not reviewed the course map, while having the finish face the runners as they finished. As for the national anthem, I attend over 40 races per year (as either RD or race timer) and the National Anthem is played at less than a third of them. Based on that standard, we’ve chosen to skip it at smaller events like Run Wild.

    “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.”
    —>The race was advertised as “Road, Track & Trail 5K” (it’s even on the tshirt logo) so hopefully the rack was not a surprise. The “parking lot” you refer to was a 20 meter section of road which had one car parked on each side of it (illegally) and other vehicles flanking each side to prevent anyone else from parking illegally. I’m extra happy to hear our volunteers were pleasant towards you and your friends – most of them were told the race would be over within 45 minutes so we appreciate that many held off on heading into the party to wait for the walkers.

    “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.”
    —>Since there was a tornado warning, I instructed the photographer to shoot at the finish line until 50 minutes on the race clock, then head into the party to shoot. Of the 413 finishers we had, 350 finished with 40 minutes and 406 finished within 50 minutes.

    “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.”
    —>As you noticed afterwards, both the email and website stated: “Post-race party at Oak Lea Tent inside the Zoo. We will have snacks from Cascadian Farms, pizza from Dominos and drinks from Naked Juice. Our beer garden (21+) will feature Samuel Adams, Blue Hills Brewery, Lagunitas and Long Trail.”

    “In addition, we’ve never received an email re: results, but I did find a link on the zoo race page for results.”
    —>Results were published live and there was a giant “live results” link in the email you received before the race. Also, the results link was listed on the racencancer.org website as well as on racemenu.com before the race started. While I mentioned that we try not to bombard you with emails. we occasionally send an email once photos are published and will be doing so for this event.

    “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.”
    —>Sorry about that – as you know, there was a tornado warning, so I instructed the finish line crew to begin tearing down after 50 minutes. You guys crossed at 56:11 while they were loading up, so the timing mats got all your finish times but for some reason you did not have a start time (did you walk around the mat?) and were omitted from results. We occasionally see a finisher with no start time, but that is typically resolved by our timing crew – unless they’re busy tearing down. I’ve entered a start time for you based on Tara’s start time.

    Whether you and your friends ran or walked the event, we wanted you to have a stellar experience. Considering that we announced the tornado warning at the start of the race, we hope you understand why some of our volunteers began peeling off the course once 98% of the entrants had finished. I’m glad you still had fun and appreciate that you took the time to provide this feedback. I apologize that the Run Wild 5K experience was less than perfect for you and your friends and hope you will join us at another RACE Cancer Foundation event soon. Our Miss Santa 5K on the Esplanade has a walk (Pink Wak) too, but most of our events are marketed as running events.

    run strong,
    Alain
    http://www.racecancer.org

    • Courtney says:

      Thanks for the reply. YES, I crossed the mat. I’ve done over 30 races in the last two years and know how to walk across a timing mat. I also crossed it at the exact same time as my friends.

      I also never heard a single tornado announcement, FYI. I don’t know when exactly this was stated, but we never heard it. We simply knew about the bad weather from doing our own checks on our phones.

      I didn’t complain about the course, it was even an interesting one to complete, however I expected for a “zoo run” that we’d actually run in a zoo and see animals. Maybe this was also “on the website” as you’ve stated everything else was. Guess it’s just our fault then for missing all this “obvious” information.

  3. That’s such a bummer about your race. I hate unorganized races. That said, we rarely get email updates out here for anything under a half. Which is probably why I have gotten lost at 3 5k’s. Glad you guys had fun together though, hopefully you can all do another event soon!

    • Courtney says:

      I guess I’ve just picked really organized races then, because this is by far the worst I’ve ever experienced. I can’t believe you don’t get updates, that’s weird.

      We might do a Halloween race as a group and wear costumes. We haven’t decided yet. 🙂

  4. Bummer about the race but glad you guys had fun at least! Hopefully next time will be more organized.

  5. biz319 says:

    I can’t believe how hot it was at night – crazy! Oh well, I am glad you guys made the most of it despite of everything! 😀

  6. Uggh I’m sorry the race was so poorly organized! There really are so many great 5Ks in the Boston-area – hopefully the next one will be a lot better!

  7. Ugh that stinks your friend had such a poor experience at her first 5k. Hopefully y’all can find a better one to do together in the future!

  8. dgobs says:

    Sorry you had such a bummer of a race! I had a similar experience at the Jay Lyons race in Worcester back in April… I walked that one with Drew because of my ankle injury and we weren’t included in any of the photos – by the time we got to the start line the photographer was walking away, and by the time we finished (we weren’t even the last walkers!) the finish line was already coming down and the photographers were nowhere to be found. I was a little disappointed, but would have been more so if I had had a first timer with me like you did. I hope your next race is a better one!

  9. Debbie @ Deb Runs says:

    I’m so bummed that you and your friends had such a bad experience. I’m also surprised that there weren’t more walkers, especially considering the whole zoo atmosphere. You’d think more families might be participating. I hope your next race experience is a whole lot better!

  10. piratebobcat says:

    Bummer about the race. But it’s cool that the race director is reaching out to you. Hopefully it all gets resolved!

  11. Yikes. Sounds like they really need to organize more. And sucks that you all were so left out. I am a big believer that everyone who pays to do a race should get the full treatment.

  12. Cy says:

    I feel so sorry that your experience was so bad 😦 At least the organizer of the tournament was kind enough to respond here in the comments though 🙂 Hopefully your upcoming half marathon is a better experience for you!

  13. osarah26 says:

    Bummer about the race not being well organized – reading the comments, it looks like the actual organizer responded so hopefully they’ll take all your comments in mind and be a little more on the ball next year. And, if there’s really a tornado warning, you cancel the race before it starts, not halfway through, right? That might be a topic for a whole other conversation though.

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