Thursday, May 7, 2009
05/03: Run for the Zoo 10K
If you have any desire to do Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo – and really, if you’re a runner I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t – if possible, do the 10K. The downside is that it starts at seven in the morning but the upside is that the 5K (actually, the first 5K) doesn’t start until 8:30, which means that all the best parking spots are still open. It’s probably a sign of my advancing years that I now consider hassle-free parking worth waking up ninety minutes early.
With one exception, the course is not challenging; that exception being that the course is in Albuquerque and Albuquerque is approximately 5000 feet above sea level. Actually, in places Albuquerque is exactly 5000 feet above sea level but without the proper equipment, or a helpful sign, you never know if you’re in one of those spots. At any rate, running in an approximately mile-high city (even one that doesn’t make such a big deal out of it) takes a little bit extra out of you when you live at an altitude of about 500 feet. I think the course was described as pancake flat which wasn’t precisely true but which was true enough that to argue otherwise would seem argumentative or, even worse, whiny. There was one small psuedohill on the course that we ran up late in mile one and down about halfway through mile five, and some other sections probably had some slight slope to them but at altitude I tend to die going uphill and this course didn’t have anything long enough or steep enough to kill me. Which was nice.
The race starts on streets just east of the zoo and goes through a small , soft-surface, section of the zoo late in mile one, much to the interest of several camelids. Miles two through four, and a healthy chunk of mile five, are on what looks to be a park road (more like Angela Hunt’s idea of a park road than Tom Leppert’s) west of the zoo. The rest of the course is back on city side streets only now we were north of the staging area whereas originally we had run south from there. After finishing we stagger around for a while hacking up a lung and trying to relocate our breath; at least that’s what we do if we are me.
The race features a $10,000 altitude bonus – ten grand will be paid to a men’s time better than 27:52 or a women’s time faster than 32:13. I asked a volunteer what happens if, say, more than one guy came in under 27:52. She said that only the winner would collect the bonus; she sounded certain but then again, she is a volunteer and I hope we all remember what Bill Murray said about them. In any case, the question was purely hypothetical – the men’s winner ran 29:13 and the women’s 36:34. Which means the winner nipped me at the tape by 22 minutes and change. And probably wasn’t hacking up a lung afterwards, either.