To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Run Like A Cheetah 5K

I don't do local races. After all the training I have done for 2 marathons and tons of half marathons, I've pretty much covered all of the good parts of town during training, for free. So why would I pay to run those same paths? I won't. But when this particular race come up on my Facebook news feed I thought this was ok to do.... Never before have I trained where cheetahs live!


The Run Like A Cheetah 5K (although actually shy of being a legit 5K) took place at the Wildlife Safari, one of my favorite places to visit when I need my wild animal fix. It was the first time they've done it, and you could tell, but that's okay. The point of the race was to raise funds for the cheetahs so I totally didn't care that it wasn't something fancy. We had no race bibs, time clock or start and finish lines, but we had t-shirts, a water stop, cookies and a fun time!

My mom, daughter and I got up early (which is my normal) and made our way to Winston, Oregon with no idea of what to expect. After parking the mom Jeep and getting the stroller set, we made our way to the park entrance and saw a cheetah on a leash! Inside the gift shop we handed them our tickets saying we registered and were handed our t-shirts. Quite simple! Another cheetah was brought out and we heard some cheetah facts before informally starting our run.

For the first part I had the added challenge of navigating a stroller on a rough road. It was fun to run alongside Dayo, the dog that lives with the cheetah ambassador. It didn't take long for the dog to leave us behind! Being a runner with a stroller it seems I'm always starting at the back and passing people. This time nobody was brave enough to start so we went and ended up near the front of the pack. Only a few runners passed us in the initial flat area before we all settled into our places. The first long bit was all downhill. Again, another stroller challenge since my sleeping baby was ready to ditch us and go flying down on her own!

This was purely a fun run and we treated it that way with no strategy or desire to be the fastest. We just went along our way walking and running whenever we felt like it. I tried to get in as much running as we could in the beginning 2 miles because the last one was a killer! All uphill!

As we got closer to the parking lot it seemed like I was going to collapse on the deceptively steep road. But we made it. And then had no idea where to go. They said to follow the arrows, except they had no arrows! A volunteer directed us toward our next turn which was still unclear. Then it was the part I was most looking forward to and the reason I registered.... We got to run through the cheetah enclosure that is part of the drive-through section of the park! Back in the day the cheetahs could roam free and come up to you car. *It is entirely possible in high school one came close enough that I put my hand out to pet it. I took the opportunity to get near to the fence and get some up close cheetah photos because why not?


The tigers are also part of the cheetah area, but sadly none were visible at the time. I had to take the opportunity to get a photo of Katura with their habitat behind her since normally this would only be accessible by car. In no time at all we were exiting the cheetah area and I saw a little 8x11 paper that said Finish Line. Oh, well, okay. We are done! Give me some cookies!!

The Wildlife Safari Village was opening so Katura and I were happy to take my mom through it for her first time in decades. The lions were busy roaring and putting on quite the show! Best part of my visit? Hearing the White Cheeked Gibbons in the distance doing some morning vocalizations that I used to hear every day at Disney's Animal Kingdom! And my baby? Yeah she slept through the entire thing! It's her 3rd race (first in the rain!), so I guess it's no big deal now. She's a pro!


Next year, if we do it again, we are going to actually prepare for it so maybe the insane hill won't kill us!


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