On Apr 10, 2016, our family ran in the What’s You Wild race at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. They had 2 events; a 5K race and a 1K kids fun run. This was a great value race. I am always pleased to see low entry costs with free t-shirts and finisher medals for all. This was our first race put on by Multisport and I assumed that it was going to be well organized. It was not. The volunteers were not very well informed.
I do not mean to be rude, it was a fun atmosphere and people were having fun. People were encouraged to wear animal costumes or pajamas and it was raising money for the Zoo, so it was a fun event. But, this was only my second 5K and I had been training hard and had high expectations for myself. So, when I had locked up 5th place and was running strong and the 4th place runner and myself were given a bad direction by a course marshal, sending us in the wrong direction, I was very upset. But, it is just a race, I will get over it. The 5K course was short (about 4.75km) but I ended up running 5.35km after the off course action.
It was a chilly morning so it was nice that everyone could huddle inside the buildings before the race. The 5K had a gun start and chip finish. So, if you were running for a personal best, you had to be at the front of the pack, I was. The course started just outside the Zoo front gates and ran up the hill to the Whitemud bridge and then turned around and went straight back down the switchbacks.
The course went around Laurier Park, past a water station with one volunteer who had pre-poured a few cups but was then standing back and letting runners pick up the cups themselves (I am used to being handed a cup so this was weird). My wife was further back in the pack and she told me that when she got to the water station, there were no more pre-poured cups and runners were lining up while the volunteer was pouring cups one at a time for people.
The course then went across the Zoo parking lot. This is where we were directed left instead of right and were corrected once we ran into other race marshals at another corner that we had previously visited. The top 3 runners were following the lead bike so lucky numbers 4 and 5 were the first people that this girl had to tell where to go. She had a 50/50 shot at getting it right, but she chose poorly. The other runner and myself turned around and went back to the girl who had sent us in the wrong direction while she was texting on her phone and then re-joined the correct route. This extra 600m meant that there were now many people in front of us. When we had made the left turn, there was no one even in sight behind us.
The race then continued into the Zoo, running around the back portion, and weaved back to the front, finishing at the cashier area at the front of the Zoo. Everyone got finisher medals, but mine was bitter sweet as I ended in 19th place (which I learned later when results were posted), and not 5th place, that I was holding firmly before the error.
At the finish area were bottles of Vitamin Water, Bananas, Juice Boxes, and Dad’s Oatmeal Cookies.
The Kids race started 15min after I finished the 5K and my kids had a great time running around the Zoo. The kids route was the same as the last 1K of the 5K route. No complaints from them. I am not sure if this one will make the cut for our race calendar next year. The kids are going to have to really beg.
With a few minor improvements in the course, to straighten out some of the awkward corners and bring it up to 5K, and if the race director would spend more time with the volunteers getting them prepared, this could be a great event. They have an excellent venue, plenty of space, and all the right reasons to run. Chip timing, shirts, and medals too. The event just needs to clean up the loose ends. If you are the race director or were involved in this race and want to reassure me that things will be better next year, please comment and I will contact you. I would love to help out.