One of my favorite parts of participating in organized races is running in new and unique locations. While I have been to the Oregon Zoo many times, the course for the Summer Solstice 5k at the Zoo will take participants through some areas that are typically off limits to visitors. The event takes place on Thursday, June 20 (the day of the summer solstice), and its 7pm start time is one hour after the zoo grounds close to regular visitors.
The event offers something for everybody: The first race of the evening is the Tot Trot, which is free for kiddos up to 2 years old. The 5k fun run is open to all ages who can complete the distance on their own feet. No strollers, wagons or similar are allowed on the 5k course, which is four loops of the 1.25k path. Right after the 5k runners and walkers are on their way, the kids fun run (for ages 3-11) starts to run just one 1.25k loop of the course. Non running spectators will have to pay admission to the zoo since this after hours event gives access to the zoo grounds for up to four hours.
The race starts at Elephant Plaza, and the path will take you behind the Predators of the Serengeti, past the giraffes, through the rainforest, uphill to the Pacific Shores, down through the otter and sea lion tunnel, then past the Primate Forest and towards the finish line. The 5k runs this loop four times, but since there is no timing chip, no awards, and no results of any sort, you can choose to cut your run shorter if you want. There is a timing clock for those who are interested to know their time. There will be one water station on the course, which you will pass during each loop.
Each participant of the kids run and the 5k will receive a voucher for a meal of a Zenner’s All Natural Hot Dog Meal, chips, and soda plus a voucher for an elephant ear. All finishers (including the Tot Trot) receive a popsicle or ice cream at the finish. Event t-shirts are available for purchase during registration as an additional fundraiser benefiting the Oregon Zoo’s elephant herd by helping to establish a research fund to combat EEHV (Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes viruses).
To learn more about the race experience, read Tung’s recap of the 2017 event.
Summer Solstice 5k details:
When: Thursday, June 20; 7pm
Where: Oregon Zoo (map)
What: 5k, Kids Run, Tot Trot
Registration: Online here
Registration cost: 5k – $35; 5k kids – $20; Fun Run – $20; Tot Trot – Free!
Registration includes: Race entry, zoo access starting at 5pm, post-race food.