When Lowry Park Zoo offered my family and I complimentary race entries to participate in the 12th Annual Zoo Run Run, we were ready for a wild time! Although I had never participated in this race before, I had heard such great feedback from other runners about this race. As part of the race registration, all runners received same-day admission to Lowry Park Zoo. That added bonus made my herd roar with excitement!
Allana and I were signed up for the 5K, which started at the park entrance and followed along the Hillsborough River.
After a mile, we looped back to the entrance and ran through the zoo. It was a sticky, muggy day and I didn’t take into account how the heat and my runner nose would deal with the unpleasant animal odors.
We ran along Zoo Boulevard past the famous Lowry Park Zoo carousel and then followed the park path through the Asian exhibit. The humid and heavily saturated air caused the boardwalk to be very slick. To avoid slipping, Allana and I walked the boardwalk which was a welcomed break for Allana.
We left Asian and followed the crowd through the Florida exhibit and under Gator Falls. Again the boardwalk was very slippery, but we enjoyed the walking break to observe the Florida wildlife and embraced the brief air conditioning in the manatee exhibit.
After our Florida tour, we circled through Wallaroo Station for a water station and then exited the park to follow along the Hillsborough River again.
Even though we had less than a mile to go, the heat and humidity was really doing a number on Allana. She kept cramping and wanting to walk, but I kept pushing her. A small “hill” and then we turned to the corner to head back to the Lowry Park Zoo Entrance where we spotted Emmalynn, Liam and Daddy cheering for us as we crossed the finish line.
Other than pacing Allana, I didn’t have a set finish time. That heat was brutal, but Allana did great and even came *this close* to finishing in third place by only 30 seconds.
Chip Time 39:15
Gun Time 40:11
The post-race festivities could have fed the whole zoo! For a small race, I was blown away by the assortment of post-race snacks and food. The all-you-can-eat post race menu included chicken tenders from PDQ, quesadillas and chips & salsa from Tijuana Flats and cereal bars from Trader Joe’s.
Since Emmalynn and I still had to face our fun run, we tried not to overdo it with the chicken tenders and quesadillas, but they were so good!
In fact, we were so busy eating that we almost missed the fun run start! We had to drop our tenders and get moving! Thankfully, the fun run was less than a half mile so we quickly caught up to the other runners. The course led us back into the zoo, around the carousel and back to the finish line.
It was over faster than you can say PDQ and we even got medals to prove we did it.
Once the zoo officially opened, we could enjoy the rest of the day at Lowy Park Zoo. Of course, everyone voted to cool off at Gator Falls for our first ride of the day and then we visited the penguins in another attempt to stay cool.
Given that we were up so early for the race, we didn’t stay too long at the park, but we made sure to visit our favorite rides and exhibits such as carousel, Wallaroo Station and Florida. We also experienced Expedition Africa for the first time and loved seeing the all the animals up-close.
So would I run the Zoo Run Run again?
Although my family and I received complimentary race entries to the Zoo Run Run, I would totally run this race again. As hot as August races can be, the Zoo Run Run makes a humid August race bearable and certainly redefined my expectations of family fun run. I would hands-down run it again for the gorgeous fast-paced course, food and zoo admission because that complete package makes the Zoo Run Run more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
Plus if I register early enough next summer, my family and I can all receive zoo admission for the day of the race and an extra admission ticket to be used at a later date. Now, there’s something to really roar about!