Disclaimer: I received free entry to Run for the Zoo as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review and write race reviews!
This past weekend, Run for the Zoo, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, became the first race I’ve now done twice for BibRave. Last year I ran the 10k (and you can read about that here) and this year I opted for the 5k.
I’m still convinced (and some did it this year) that if you wanted a good workout, you could double the 5k and 10k pretty easily. Still think the race should make this a challenge.
The 5k starts at 7:30, which meant it was an early morning for me getting down to the city and needing to pick up my bib and race shirt. But early mornings in the city mean street parking is a little easier; so I nabbed a spot super close to the park.
After hanging around the start area it was time for us to line up and get going. On a perfect morning to run, there was a lot of speed (and a cross country team) lined up at the start.
Quickly we were off, and some went off very quickly. This was one of the rare times where I was able to contain my start and not get sucked into the crowd. I knew I was running a solid pace and I figured a lot of people would come back to me (spoiler: they did).
The 5k course is very different from the 10k, which meant we ran further south without turning around on the road. The first mile had a couple inclines, but you would be hard pressed to call them hills. I hit the first mile right on 6 minutes flat, and per the usual in a 5k, this was the only split I looked at.
Mile 2 took us on the paths around the lakefront, but not the paved ones. I remembered the dirt/gravel paths from last year, but after all the rain in Chicago they were a little spongier this year. We did have to dodge some puddles, but nothing crazy. The second mile was also where I was able to move up and make a lot of passes, especially those high school kids. According to my Strava splits, I came through Mile 2 in a 6:10.
Mile 3 got us off the dirt and back onto pavement. We came back to one of our first turns, and headed back to the zoo. In my opinion this is the most fun and trickiest part of the entire race.
Upon entering the zoo, we get onto the boardwalk. I love me a boardwalk run as much as the next person, but with all the rain, the boardwalk was super slick. And with sharp turn (like on the boardwalk on Mario Kart 64) it slowed me down, because the Vaporfly has exactly zero grip.
After we got off the boardwalk, we made one more big U turn to get the distance in. I got passed coming off the boardwalk, but quickly remade the pass with about 1/4 mile to go. I came through Mile 3 in a 6:15, and closed the last 200m in a 5:54.
I ended up coming in at 19:10, which was good enough for 15th overall and 3rd in my age group.
It was another good year of Run for the Zoo, and one of my two trips to the zoo per year (looking at you Zoo Lights). If you’re looking for a fast-ish course in early June, this is a great one. Plus, you get to be at the zoo!!