The Brookfield Zoo Run Run for Animal Care and Conservation Fund was held on Sunday, September 21, 2014 with an 8:30 AM start (this was chip timed, but there was also a fun run that started 8:40 and a fun walk at 8:50 that weren't timed - - though I saw most people just started when they wanted, not at the times stated). There was packet pickup on race day beginning at 7 AM - you had to look up your number posted on a cork board and then line-up in the appropriate line (there wasn't a line for my number). I think they had pickup on two other days as well, but I couldn't make it. The packet was your bib. safety pins if you needed them, and your cotton t-shirt; being a zoo they are more environmentally/animal friendly and don't use plastic bags. OK with me. This race is very family-oriented, so lots of smaller children and strollers. There was one water station around mile 1.5.
Things I liked:
• The money raised helps animals (especially the endangered kind)! How could you not love that?
• Parking and zoo entry was free with paid race entry, and family members not participating in the race that were in cars with participants were free. The only thing - you can't leave the zoo and re-enter (you'd have to pay then).
• The entire course is inside the zoo.
• The volunteers and zoo employees were supportive and energetic.
• Clear course markings.
• Banana and bottle of water at finish.
• Cups of Gatorade at finish.
• Able to wander the zoo after the race and check out the animals. Perfect time of day, as most are awake and active.
• The price of the race wasn't bad - especially since it's going to a good cause - $30 for timed race, $25 for fun run/walk was starting price, and race day ended with $40/$35.
Things I didn't like (or others might not like)
• Cotton shirt - not a fan of cotton race shirts, personally. I understand tech shirts can raise the price, I just really like tech shirts over cotton. They get more use :)
• The course has a LOT of twists and turns, which can be a pain when you're in a big crowd - also had to be careful of dips or sewer type grates on the sides (could roll an ankle if not careful). Of course, it's the way it has to be in order to have the whole race in the zoo. Just something to think about it you hate that sort of thing ;) And also to be aware and careful of your footing if you are clumsy like me.
• Some parts of the path are small, so with congestion can slow you down.
• Had to be more alert than usual because of smaller children running in and out/stopping in front of you. Also, large groups of people walking/running together, which made it hard to pass at times (again - it's a fun run/walk, so not as many people that are regular races and don't know etiquette).
• There were min/mile pace signs for people to line-up in, but was just going off the honor system (didn't need to give an estimated finish time) - - so lots of people in the wrong lines. I think there might have been some confusion for those doing the walk for fun, as there wasn't a line-up for them, and I think some started before the runners.
Obviously, this is more a fun run than anything else, so I wasn't trying to PR or anything, and didn't mind the kids or congestion. I was out there having fun and enjoyed running by all of the animals in their habitats. Just wanted to make note of these things for others, if they're the kind of things that help make a decision to register or not. This is definitely more of a race you do to help the CZS (Chicago Zoological Society) and to have fun with your family.
This was my third year doing it, and it certainly was better than the first year (2011) - much more organized with race day packet pickup. Overall I'd say it was a nice race, and it was great to see so many families out there together being active and having fun.