I saw a CAMEL on my Run! and other musings from the Oasis Toronto Zoo 10K Race

I hadn’t expected to race again until the marathon mid-October (STWM) but when I was able to snag a free bib last minute (thanks Patty!) and got the OK from Coach Larry (he was racing it too), I thought I might as well, since it would give me some practice getting myself organized for race morning.

Running this 10k was a last minute decision and definitely not a consideration when I organized a Karaoke birthday party for one of my girlfriends for Friday night. Friday came and we started with a few pints at 830pm at one of our favourite dive bars, before heading over to the Karaoke room we had booked from 10p.m.-12a.m. Needless to say, I was preparing myself for a late night. It was also my self-proclaimed Last Night of Alcoholic Indulgences until after STWM ( which I’ve failed already if sipping on the cooking wine counts). As always, Karaoke was a hilarious and humbling night and I kept my alcoholic units to 2 (plus a few random sips) over the course of the night. Side Note: when I’m at Karaoke, I 100% commit to every song (with mic or without) along with all the gesticulating, foot stomping and tambourine playing that goes along with it.  After a particularly heart-wrenching group rendition of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” I looked at my watch, and realizing it was after 1 a.m., grabbed Alex and we headed home. I had received a FB message from Larry letting me know he’d be swinging by at 645am to pick me up. I’m not great at math, but know enough to know that it was going to feel like a VERY early morning. When I got home, I chugged a Nuun and hit the sheets.

As expected, when my alarm went off, I felt less than rested. I quickly made some breakfast, chugged another Nuun (those babies save me every time) and quickly dressed and packed. Temperature looked like it would be on the cooler side, so I opted for a light pair of capris and long sleeve.

Larry picked me up and commented on my raspy voice and that perhaps I didn’t look as ‘done up’ as I usually do (note, by ‘done up’ I usually have a pony tail and a swipe of mascara on). I was just impressed with myself that I was up and didn’t have any pillow dreadlocks. Anyway, Larry was pumped because he was going to really race this one, and warned me to take it easy, as I’ve been dealing with some hip issues, and really should just be treating this run as my steady run before our last long Sunday run the next morning. No problem, Larry. 

Our sunglasses our very indicative of our different “racing styles”

Larry had picked up my race packet the night before so I can’t comment on that process but in our race kit we had a technical tee (purple for ladies, red for men) a full size Neutrogena face sunscreen, a juice box, a sleeve of Jamieson multi-vitamin powder and a Get Out There Magazine. The race start was well organized with lots of porta-potties and parking ( the essentials!), and I managed to hit the loo early on to avoid the lineups, since these were positioned right next to the start gate. We did some quick dynamic stretching and headed off to our respective corrals. One of my friends, Jim, was racing his 1st 10k that day and I saw his lovely wife Carol just before the gun for my corral went off!

Hi Carol!

The red corral (and Larry) was off at 8am SHARP and my yellow corral was sent on our way at 8:05am. The first bit was around the parking lot, and then down and back along the road leading into the zoo. There was a lot of these sloping hills throughout the course, and I’d say about 70% of it was out and backs mostly on asphalt, but there were a few gravelly dirt sections.  I didn’t mind this too much because at least on the uphills you had some recovery time on the way down.I took the first km fairly easy, as it was a bit cooler out and I am still nursing quite a tight hip. It did feel surprisingly good as I kept going. I was wearing my Garmin and I’m not sure what has been going on with it lately, but we’ve been having some major trust issues. It kept telling my I was locked in at a fairly steady 5:40/km pace. I felt like I was going faster than that, but I chalked the extra exertion up to all the hills.

Now, since Larry told me to take it easy, I stopped to take a few pictures along the way as the animals were waking up for breakfast:

Oh hello, flamingos

Th original Camelbak

I would have had a lovely picture of the white wolves, however they must have been excited by all the runners and were running much too quickly for me to actually get a good photo.  I was pretty surprised I was the only one around stopping to take pictures;  I mean, how often do you get to see camels!

After stopping 2 or 3 times for pictures, I thought I’d pick up the pace a bit to make up some time. I saw Carol a few times along the way and she was an excellent cheering squad! There were two aid stations along the course offering water and I think Gatordate (the volunteers were just yelling out “Electrolytes”). I ended up stopping at each to grab some water to soothe my achey Karaoke throat.  I didn’t take any gels or any other fuel during the race, since it was just a 10k and I was supposed to be treating it as my usual Saturday run.

When I hit the 9k mark, my hip was still feeling good, so I picked up my pace towards the last hill to the finish line. As I came around the corner I saw Larry waiting with two of our fellow Beaches Runners Club runners (Thanks Nir and Sean!)  I felt good to “Finish Strong” (our Running Room mantra), up to the finish line and down the chute to grab a medal and more importantly, the post-race snacks. I met up with Larry, and turns out he almost hit his goal of sub 40mins ( 40.07) which is pretty amazing given all the hills and tight turn-around corners and I finished up in 50.06. Obviously, he was running so fast the animals were a blur, and I was even happier that I had stopped to make sure I captured the memories for him.

Shiny medals, flashy pants

When I realized I had run it in just over 50 mins, I checked in with my  much more reliable Strava, and discovered that YES my Garmin was lying to me and YES I was running faster than it was telling me. If anyone is in the market for a Garmin 620, let me know.


The post-race food was pretty good, with individually packaged morning museli rounds (my favourite pre-run breaky) bananas, big squeezable yogurts (not for me, but Larry seemed to enjoy), bananas, juices and two kinds of cookies.  There was also a stretching station sponsored by Voltaren, which I immediately took advantage of to try and loosen up my hip.

We stuck around for the medal ceremony, then made our way back to the car and got to see even more animals along the way, including a hippo and a baby/mama rhino combo. Awwwwwwe

Overall, this was a fun morning, the race was well organized, volunteers were peppy and it was SO NICE to get out and enjoy the perfect fall weather after all this heat we’ve had this summer. One downer is that the race photos were bloody expensive – $24/photo, so Ill be passing on those. Overall, I’d run it again, and I know Larry is already plotting how he can win it next year!

Thanks Patty!

2 Replies to “I saw a CAMEL on my Run! and other musings from the Oasis Toronto Zoo 10K Race”

  1. Such a cool idea to have a race in a zoo! That certainly would keep things interesting to see all kinds of animals while on the run.

    1. wildheartrunning says: Reply

      It for sure was!! The monkeys were sure making a lot of noise!

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