Race Recap: Zooma Bermuda

By | February 18, 2020

more to come on Bermuda overall in, hopefully, a #TravelTuesday post. In the mean time, my thoughts on an amazing racecation. First of all, major love and shout out to the entire Zooma and OnPace race teams. They and their partners put on a fabulous inaugural Bermuda race and I can’t wait to return to the island or do another one of their races. So many cities, so little time.

Runners’ Roundup

Linking up with Debbie, Deborah, Rachel, Lisa, Jen and Smitha for the new Wednesday “Runners’ Roundup” to discuss the Zooma Bermuda challenge. Apologies in advance for an insanely long recap. I enjoyed this weekend almost as much as I did my first Half Marathon.

The weekend in a nutshell

Three happy runners

In no particular order this weekend involved:

  • meeting amazing people including Marcia and Erika. Spoiler, when you’ve read one another’s blogs for two+ years, it really doesn’t feel like “meeting” and you can chat easily for hours.
  • exploring the island of Bermuda with Darlene
  • running an amazingly scenic and hilly Half Marathon
  • not getting swept in said Half marathon
  • learning how to embed an instagram photo in a blog post. Or maybe that was just me. LOL. There are approximately forty bazillion photos on my Facebook as well. 

The results of our hard work:


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But… rewinding….

As US-based runners, we received our swag bags before we flew, which was great. This included a map of Bermuda,  the gorgeous tanks in the second photo here and a super soft quarter zip. Both fit surprisingly well, and I actually wore the tank!

The Expo

After a day + exploring the island on our own and with some other early arrivals, Zooma Bermuda officially kicked off with a welcome reception at the Fairmont Southampton, our wonderful host hotel. This also served as the Expo during which we could pick up our bibs, wrist bands for transportation and activities and other purchased items. As someone who wishes races were generally more sustainable and generated less waste, I loved that the bib was the same for Saturday and Sunday’s races.

Since it was a relatively small race and the Expo was in a hotel ballroom at a fixed time, we had the opportunity to meet other runners and the On Pace team. I have run with pacers before, but with a great ratio of pacers to runners we had the opportunity to truly engage with the pacers. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with them about their plans and felt they really listened to my goals for the race. As someone who doesn’t always do well with new people, it was also helpful to meet “my” pacer before the morning of the race.

The Field Trips


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Besides races, Zooma organized some optional field trips for those of us visiting the island. I was excited by Saturday’s to the Crystal Caves as they appeared to be absolutely stunning. They did not disappoint.  I had a particular chuckle as the shuttle we used to go to and from operated under the name “Bermuda Triangle Tours”. Life’s too short not to have a sense of humor.  If/when I go back to Bermuda, I’d probably stay a little more central – there was a lot of travel time between Hamilton, the caves and the airport that I’d prefer to eliminate in a shorter stay.

We also hit up the iconic Swizzle Inn, and while I stayed away from a Dark and Stormy or Rum Swizzle ahead of a race, I definitely soaked up the atmosphere. The real up side of being in Bermuda in the off season was the sites & restaurants had no issue accommodating the large groups.  In addition, we were able to get 20% off entrees for our closing dinner at Henry VIII. If I sprout fins and swim away from my blog it’s because of all the delicious fish I ate at the weekend. Wahoo, fish and chips and conch fritters, oh my!

Lighthouse Run

nice signage to mark the route!

can report we did not blow away despite my hair’s best efforts


The length of this race changed a couple of times due to road conditions. As the day dawned and remained dark and stormy – a tribute, no doubt, to one of the sponsors and welcome drinks (!!) it solidified our plans to walk the run rather than risk Sunday’s run.

Dressing for high 50s/low 60s with wind and rain is a challenge coming out of Northeast winter. I made a gametime decision to put on a long sleeve tech shirt under the Strong Fricken’ Women tee, which I thought particularly appropriate for this women-focused series. I was very glad I did so as wet tee shirt is never a good feeling. This was semi-planned twinning as Darlene wore this one day and I loved the pattern and told her I was going to be a copycat. This was the first chance since that we both planned to wear capris, so it had to happen.

An unexpected find during the Zooma weekend was all the Skirt. One icebreaker on Friday’s field trip to Hamilton was someone wearing the same pattern as Darlene, and another woman told us how we could find at the Expo based on which Skirt she’d be wearing.

I had a poncho, but didn’t bother as the rain wasn’t particularly heavy but mostly annoying. The route was nice as the road wound down from Gibbs Lighthouse to Horseshoe Bay, and I’m sure would have been even more scenic on a clear day. For some reason I wore and turned on the Garmin, I’m sure it will soon be touting a new 1.5 mile race record. LOL.

Three happy, wet runners


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The Half Marathon

Flat Cari

Long sleeves was the wrong choice for 60s, but a few weeks ago when I accepted reality that this Half was going to be a challenge I’d stubbornly decided (Yes, I’m stubborn, this is a theme) I was going to wear my NYC Marathon shirt to remind me of what I had done just a few months ago. I survived, I did not melt.

On the go! We ran a chunk of the race together and she ultimately PRed

aka the reason we were all in Bermuda. There were some 200 runners in all, with us split relatively evenly between the Half Marathon and the 10K. As I mentioned last week, I contemplated dropping to the 10K as a result of my complete lack of training due to injury. Once I found out there was a 3.5 hour cut off, I had a feeling I could do it and decided to go for it. This was further confirmed when I met Esther from On Pace at the pool early in the week and she confirmed it wasn’t a hard limit and that no one would be left behind.

We boarded the race shuttles a a little before six, bringing us to the start area in Barr Park in plenty of time to enjoy a beautiful sunrise and prepare. While I think we could have arrived a little later, I totally understand the cushion for an inaugural race especially given the construction and narrow roads in Hamilton. Just after 7:30 we were off.


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Did I mention narrow roads and hills? Someone told us that while Bermuda is only 20 square miles it has more than 300 miles of roads. I’d believe that, and what the airport shuttle driver told us that he’d point out a straight road if we ever saw one. This was one hell of a course. My plan, such as I had one, was to power walk the hills and when my endurance gave out. This started in earnest at mile four when we hit the longest & steepest uphill simultaneously. Bermuda is the anti-flat. This was the hardest, but also the most scenic half marathon I’d ever run. If I had to give up a scenic view for one less hill – wow. That would be an impossible choice.

I chatted to both the 2:45 and 3:00 pacers for their plans and both were doing 3:1 intervals walking the hills. I started with 2:45 and kept them in sight for a few miles, but I knew that wasn’t realistic. I didn’t do intervals so much as run when I could, walk when I needed to. Somewhere around mile eight or nine my goal shifted from not finishing with the sweeper to coming in below three hours. I’d stayed with/ahead of them for so long I thought that was a reasonable goal even as I expected to tire in the final quarter.

All the OnPace pacers were awesome, but Mandi and Marissa get a special shout out for pushing us through the finish.  At mile nine-ten ish I felt strong enough to drop the intervals and gained on them a bit, which was good as it provided a cushion when I power walked much of mile eleven. By this point I was flat out determined to break three.  When our watches neared thirteen, Mandi and Marissa told us that the finish was just around the corner and to go as it was too early for them to finish as pacers. We took off and I can’t wait to see my finish photos as I was probably a smiling fool. I had about three glasses of seltzer from the finish line festival before heading back up to the finish to watch the last runner come through. She was surrounded by Pacers who had finished their assignments and went back out to bring her in. No one finishes alone was an awesome motto and I can’t wait to do another race where On Pace are the pacers.

My time? It was the slowest of my eight Halfs. Do I care? Not one iota. The goal for this one was finishing, ideally smiling. DONE.

I am an adult.. I did not stay up all night until a 6a shuttle figuring What the hell, I’ll sleep on the plane.  I was too tired from waking early and the half and went to bed around nine after a wonderful closing dinner at Henry VIII. This is 40.

General Thoughts:

  • Running a half marathon untrained is absolutely ridiculous. I knew this, and this is why I deferred Fort Lauderdale. but I was stubborn and didn’t want to miss out on the fun in Bermuda. I don’t regret this choice as I’m not sore at all and my knee is no worse than it had been after the Manhattan 7, but I’m not doing this again. I don’t have a Half on my calendar and am going to keep it that way for now. It’s time to train properly for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and go from there.
  • Because I did not train, I did not practice my fueling. An email about Gu on the course reminded me to throw some chews in my suitcase, and I ate a handful of Citrus Chews throughout. This worked fine and I was glad to have them as I got hungry despite my usual pre-race breakfast bar.
  • Back to my theme of sustainability, I was glad at a couple of water stops when the volunteers offered to fill my water bottle rather than me take a cup and pour the water into my cup.
  • Since we were mostly out of town and the island has such a small population, this isn’t a race with crowd support. It didn’t matter. It was lovely to see some locals who were out and about cheer us on.
  • Running on the left side of the road with traffic and mostly without shoulder or sidewalk was a little unnerving, especially with the curves. I felt though that traffic gave us as wide a berth as it could and we were never in danger.
  • Running without music (for safety) was no issue as the scenery was enough of a distraction.

While I can’t go back to Bermuda next year as I have an entry for Fort Lauderdale due to deferring this year, I’d do another Zooma race in a heartbeat if the destination was somewhere I wanted to run. It was well supported, the communication was great, the SWAG was good (the medals were GORGEOUS) and the location couldn’t have been better. Amelia Island might be too warm for my liking in October, but Cape Cod is tempting me.

23 thoughts on “Race Recap: Zooma Bermuda

  1. Wendy

    I’m having FOMO after reading this! Sounds liike a wonderful weekend and I’m glad the weather improved for the half. Bermuda looks lovely. Thanks for sharing all the details!

    1. cari Post author

      It was amazing. If it ever works for you schedule wise, I think you’d enjoy it.

  2. Kim at Running on the Fly

    I’ve never dome a ZOOMA event, nor have I been to Bermuda. Looks like I need to up my racing game 😉 It was so fun following you gals on your weekend adventures!

  3. Deborah Brooks

    Huge congrats! I knew you would make it! Looks such such a fabulous weekend. I may have to add that to the schedule next year looks like a blast

  4. Laurie

    Wow! What a perfect time to go to this beautiful island. Sounds wonderful! The whole trip looks fabulous. I will have to put this one on my TBR (to be run) list. I have never done a ZOOMA race.

    1. cari Post author

      I know you love traveling, so you definitely should. Plus even “winter” in Bermuda > winter in the northeast

  5. Marcia

    Yeah you don’t go to Bermuda to race (at least I don’t) but damn we had fun on that gorgeous course AND the rest of the weekend! Loved meeting you and I think ZOOMA races will continue to get better and better!

    1. cari Post author

      I think any destination race has to be as much or more about the destination than the race — otherwise too much risk of a bad race (organization, performance) ruining the weekend. And yes, totally agree re: Zooma. It seems to be in excellent hands
      We could have still been talking at JFK, I have no doubt.

  6. runswithpugs

    This sounds amazing! I would definitely check it out, hills and all, especially if it’s set up as an experience weekend with all the tours and activities. We have a ZOOMA about an hour from (Amelia Island) and it’s been settling through some growing pains. I was hoping to check out the reimagined event one of the se years, but we will just have to see.


    1. cari Post author

      I met a woman from Amelia Island at dinner Thursday and she kept tempting me. I think it might be too hot for me, but it looks positively gorgeous. I don’t know if it’s in the cards for you this year healing wise, but I’d definitely recommend it since it’s so close. Your challenge for Bermuda would be the one she (and Erika) had – flying through Miami was a cluster. We lucked out with direct flights from NYC

  7. Chocolaterunsjudy

    Sounds like ZOOMA has upped their game. My one ZOOMA race wasn’t a great experience (and also happened to be one of my slowest due to weather and yes, hills).

    I’m glad that this one was so much better organized & that you enjoyed it. I don’t remember hills from Bermuda, I remember the pink sand and walking on the ocean bottom. Of course it was almost 50 years ago, too.

    1. cari Post author

      I obviously don’t know your race experience, but I can’t fault Zooma for Bermuda’s hills. Or my time. That was my own doing going in completely untrained. I think you only notice Bermuda’s hills if you’re running, don’t know if you were at the time. They weren’t enough to bother me as a course of daily activities as they weren’t in the sightseeing areas. Even the lighthouse one didn’t really faze ,me

      1. Chocolaterunsjudy

        I also can’t blame ZOOMA for the hills or the heat — it was much hotter than your half, actually, and I pretty much literally melted down.

        But the fact that they ran out of cups at one aid station and water at another — that I can definitely blame them for. I don’t think there was nearly as many activities, but this was quite a few years ago so I don’t remember. The expo was underwhelming, but the swag was good!

        I actually do have a recap (sort of) of that race on the blog (it’s ZOOMA Annapolis under races).

        Anytime races run out of water (and/or cups) — which has happened to me at multiple races — it just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. It’s why I went to carrying my own water, because you just can’t trust races to be well managed.

  8. Lisa

    Sounds like such a fun experience! I’ve actually never done a Zooma race. I think Bermuda would be a great destination to go to for a race! Thanks for linking up!

  9. Rachel (@running_onhappy)

    I loved seeing everyone’s photos of the weekend! It looked like so much fun. I’ve never done a Zooma race and I’ve never been to Bermuda. But not gonna lie, I asked my hubby if I could go next year. 🙂

  10. Debbie Woodruff

    This race looks amazing! Congrats on your first half! I’d love to go to Bermuda to run. And I agree, meeting bloggers that you’ve been reading for several years is like getting together with old friends!

  11. Darlene

    Great recap. I feel like I was there.

    Maybe I should just link to yours. LOL.

    I agree with everything. Most of what I remember was not the race itself but the people and the places. All was fantastic.

    I highly recommend ZOOMA. I would definitely do another. Maybe Cape Cod 2021.

    1. cari Post author

      Yep, absolutely on the people and places. We mat & saw so many wonderful people & places.
      Torn on the Cape or Amelia Island. Maybe both in different years!

      1. Darlene

        Yes yes. Both are on my bucket list esp if Erika and Sara stay with Zooma.

  12. Coco

    Sounds like a fantastic time! I love that there were field trips to help you get the most out of the “destination.” Yay for doing great without training and LOL at not doing that again.

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  14. Liz Dexter

    This sounds amazing and I loved this bit “She was surrounded by Pacers who had finished their assignments and went back out to bring her in. “. I’ve done halves with little training that have been FAR more painful than this, so well done you!

    1. Cari

      I wasn’t familiar with OnPace before, but they were amazing. They totally got the full “responsibility” of what they were asked to do.
      Thank you! No more untrained halves. Hopefully


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