18 Nov

Runners earn their stripes at Chessington Zoo

Running Wild Chessington start 2019

“The only things in stripes I saw were athletes in club vests running fast ahead of me”, writes runABC South reporter Alan Newman, who was competing in the third Running Wild 10K at Chessington World of Adventures on Saturday (16 November).

Tiger Rock was just one of many spectacular features of a course that snakes its way through, behind and around one of Britain's foremost zoos and theme parks. Apparently, there are around 1,000 exotic animals housed in Chessington Zoo that started the park back in 1931.
 
Perhaps it was the cold morning after a week of wet weather but the early start saw most of the animals sensibly keeping warm in their accommodation. Meanwhile, a herd of around 850 humans had to make do with an energetic warm up by Fit with Frank to prepare them for the 8:30am stampede in the 5K (one lap) and 10K (two laps) races.
 
The course at Chessington starts centrally beside the Adventure Tree and tours the back lot and open pastures plus the twists and turns of the main zoo complex before it opens to the general public. A race number is your ticket for free admission to Chessington Zoo and Sea Life Centre. 
 
The 2K Family Fun Run starts before the main event and this was won by Finlay Taylor in 8:10, which was coincidentally the start time. The first girl was Emily Olliver (8:27) and both were operating at speeds few of the adults would manage a little later. 
 
The one lap winners of a pair of On running shoes provided by Weybridge Sports shop were Sam Golding (Windsor, Slough and Eton, 21:06) and Kirsty Steel (Ranelagh Harriers, 23:07) – the times reflecting the difficult course with its many tight turns and challenging hills.
 
The two lap race resulted in a clear win for Ian Parker (Windle Valley Runners, 39:16) from a near dead heat between Mark Clements (unattached M40, 40:32) and Tom Spooner (Sutton Runners, 40:33). The top three women were Jenny Millett (Tri Surrey, 42:06), W40 Danielle Billett (Elmbridge, 45:41) and W50 master Cathy Albertelli (unattached, 46:42).
 
Top marks to AAT-events for a well organised, enthusiastically marshalled race with the added bonus of free admission to the zoo, plus a themed quality medal, cake, biscuits, jelly babies and drinks at the finish. The sun and the animals came out right on cue at 10:00am, just as the main gates burst open with eager day visitors.
 
Full results at runABC South race listing here 
 
Image courtesy AAT-events
 
Chessington Running Wild promo image