In short: I loved this event In full: My second year doing this and the fact that I rarely do the same event twice speaks volumes. It's not the cheapest, the goody bag is poor and the medal is the same as last years with just a different ribbon to differentiate the year. But despite that, it's a cracking event and I love it.
The price is undeniably steep but includes admission to the zoo and with a cheap admission for supporters the event's actual cost, when compared to the cost of 2 us both attending the zoo for the day was in effect minimal.
Not convinced that it's a PB course, but others seem to disagree. It's certainly not that hard though. 3 laps mean it's good for supporters who can enjoy a walk around the zoo before it's open and also see plenty of the race.
But it's the scenery that makes this race, it really is a quite surreal setting and for the second year running I witnessed the rhino's charge across their paddock as I ran past - a truly unique experience.
Atmosphere is great, a mix of club and fun runners, some in fancy dress - and even a hen do this year! And then the rest of the day in the zoo spotting others wearing medals and looking increasingly weary!
In short: Expensive and thin on support, but a memorable race In full: Very interesting race.
On the one hand, it's in an extraordinary setting. There's not too many places in the UK where you can run while a herd of rhino run alongside you (don't worry - not on the same path). Wild muntjack deer chilling out on the verges as well, looking at you confusedly.
On the other hand, there is a real absence of man-made atmosphere. The race starts before the zoo opens, so the only spectators are those that have made the trip with friends, family and colleagues. And unfortunately those that were there were seemingly in no mood to clap anyone other than those that they knew.
Marshals too - very low key, holding out an arm to signal a direction, but other than a couple of them round the course and the guy on the tannoy at the crucial fork between finish and carrying on round (he's very good by the way), no encouragement.
As routes with laps involved go, this is definitely one where you'd forgive them. There's a lot of gentle downhill and what climbs there are aren't anything to be unduly worried about. There's huge PB potential here.
Some more points: The instructions sent out had incorrect/misleading info on attaching the timing chip. As a result there were a few stray chips on the course that had clearly fallen off. Good quality medal. Water station could've been slicker. Could've done with a second bin a little further round for discarded cups as well. Changing area wasn't the most private, given that it was overlooked by a large window into a public area! There was an organised warm-up, but it was at least half an hour before the start of the race. Not brilliantly thought through. Race entry includes zoo entry, but bear in mind that a full visit to Whipsnade might be a bit of a slog after a hard race. Car park advertised as "free to runners" in the literature. It's actually recently become free to all visitors.