Chester Zoo 10k

by Tonk

I can not remember the last time I went to a zoo. In the summer holidays Rachael May and I decided we wanted to go to Chester Zoo for the day. For one reason or another we never got round to going down. 

A few weeks ago I noticed that I’d managed to run 5km in a quick enough time to count towards my road standards. I’d normally have absolutely zero interest in such things, but for the first time in my life I decided I’d give it a go. I had a look at the times I’d need to achieve the bronze medal. As personally I feel the silver is a little too far out of my reach at the moment. 

With the 5km time already achieved. I set my sights on the 10km. Sub 40 minutes, easy! (Here’s a link to the full table with times you need to do to get a medal) 4th December there’s a club road champs race at Ulverston, perfect for a pb. “Shame I have to wait that long” I thought. It didn’t give me much time for a second crack at it in case everything went wrong. So I fired up Google, and searched ‘road 10k races in north west’. The first event to pop up was the Chester Zoo 10k. “Oh…my…..god! Rachael May! Rachael May! Rachael May!” I screamed. “What the hell do you want now you clown” she sighed, the stress of having me as a partner really gets to her. “Guess where we can do a 10k road race!?!” I shouted back to her (yes I’ve roped her into doing these races too). “Chester Zoo?!” She replied. “Damn straight!” I yelled in excitement. It was the last Sunday of the half term, and we’d get free entry into the zoo after the race. I always get told off for not coming up with exciting things to do when she’s on school holidays. So I booked it and we spent a night watching David Attenbrough. 

Most people would come up with a structured training plan. We decided to prepare for it by going to a zoo. The thursday before the race we made the long trip out to Trotters! Or the Lake District Wildlife Park as it’s known as today. With my oldest best mate Joe and my goddaughter Arabella. We had a great day looking at all the animals. We listened to Richard Robinson’s birds of prey display, which was informative and hilarious at the same time. We had Scrumpy, the Tawny owl, land on the bench 3 inches away from us, and I felt Gonzo the Vulture’s feathers brush the top of my head as he flew over. 


Though if you ask Arabella the most exciting thing to see was actually…..the ducks! Whilst looking at flamingo’s she noticed a load of ducks, which had probably flown over from Bass lake. The rest of the animals didn’t get a look in after that. So if you’re reading Richard, my 3 ¾ year old goddaughter says save a load of money on wild animals and get more ducks. If I’d have known she’d be that easily pleased we’d have just gone down the lake! 

Us adults (if you can call us that) had a great day out, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone. 


I took the rest of the week pretty easy. Then after a social run around the Two Riggs race route on Saturday, we drove down to Middlewich to spend the night with my cousin. We had a good catch up and a good feed. Then we enjoyed the extra hour in bed with the clocks going back an hour. 

I donned my new, almost leopard print shorts and got ready. A half hour drive and we were there. I was amazed how many folk there were, 1800 runners in total. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of a maurten gel, and had a warm up. I was feeling good, and knew a pb would be on the cards for today. 


We lined up on the start line and set off exactly at 9am. A quick lap of the big car park and into the zoo. I was pretty close to the lead runners as we went through. I was having a good look around trying to see what animals were out and about. Everyone else was looking straight forward with dogged determination. It wasn’t the straightest of routes in the world, as we did a lot of snaking around. Past the elephants, rhino, deer and could hear some monkeys having a shouting match. It was pretty cool being the only ones inside the zoo. Luckily my shorts didn’t attract much animal attention. Though, a chap did tell he he’d been staring at my bum for quite a while. We then came out of the zoo and ran along some closed country roads for a few miles. I was going pretty well, and managed to overtake a few folk. My first 3 miles were all around the 6 mins/mile mark. But then lost a bit of concentration as we climbed over the bridge and dropped down to 6:19 for the 4th mile. I knew I was on for a pb but wanted to really push on again. So I got back into the zone for those last two miles. I really focused on my form and breathing. A few tight corners at the end and through some very muddy puddles. I managed to cross the line in 23rd in a new 10km personal best time of 37:46. I was delighted, and not absolutely spent. So I really feel like I have more in me. Hopefully I’ll be able to show this at the Ulverston race in December. 


We were given a pretty cool medal, loads of free snacks and a can of beer at the end. Once Rachael May had finished we scranned a bacon butty down in record time, and headed into the zoo. 

Elephants, penguins, orangutans, a really cool bat cave, lions, tigers and bears oh my! They had everything you could ever dream of at a zoo. Apart from…..ducks! Arabella would not have been pleased. 


At one point I was standing watching a group of chimpanzees, which is called a troop. When a kid stood 6 feet in front of me, eating an ice cream, pointed right at me and said “eeee mam look! A baby Rhino!!!”  I was about to walk up to him, slap the ice cream out of his hand and say “listen here bub. I’ve actually just ran 10k in 37 minutes. So I’m actually in pretty good shape right now. I know I might not be the skinniest of runners, but that doesn’t mean anything. So shut the hell up” I was saved by the embarrassment of doing and getting into a fight with a scouse mother, this when I looked over my shoulder to see I was in fact standing in front of a week old baby Rhinoceros. My heart melted as it ran round doing ridiculously cute sneezes. I could have stood there all day. 


It was a really really enjoyable day. Made even better by being able to walk around with the packet of crisps and can of beer we’d gotten after the race. If you’re looking for a good day out, go to that race! We did 6 miles of running, and probably 9 miles of walking that day. So were due a sit down by the time we got back to the car. 


The fate of my road standards for this year all depends on this weekend’s Derwentwater 10. I need to get sub 1 hour 6 minutes. Which I’m a tad nervous about, but all I can do is give it my all! Fingers crossed. 


I should add that I am in now way supported or sponsored by Trotters or Chester Zoo. Though if either of them would like to be my official zoo sponsor after this great piece of advertisement for them, then please do get in touch.