Even before our daughter could walk, I’m already convinced that she would love running. I believe that perseverance and resilience can be cultivated through sports so I consciously built in activities which promote a love for the great outdoors. Since she was as young as 3, we’ve participated in several run events as Daddy-Daughter team. In fact, last year, I felt a tinge of sadness when I was told it would be the very last time we qualify for the parent-child race (after she turns 7yr old, she would have to run on her own)…until we discover the Safari Zoo Run.
I knew that the Safari Zoo Run would, as its name suggests, run through the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo. I studied the various categories which we could participate in and eventually chose the non-competitive 6km Fun Run as it allowed us to jog as a family at a leisurely pace. But what I didn’t know was how unique and refreshing it would be to run through these familiar grounds – the well-loved Singapore Zoo and Night Safari which we, like most Singaporeans, would have visited on numerous occasions (sans running gear).
You see, whichever category you’ve chosen, rather than running though city streets and having vehicles whizz by, here it was us who whizzed past scores of wild animals during the hour of the day when they seemed to be most active. We were thrilled to see so many of them up and about – either actively eating, or being fed or bathing or wandering around interacting with one another. For the Fun Run Category which we participated in, we saw many families, like ourselves, taking time to soak in these special moments. Many would slow their pace to take photos of the animals and engage in conversations about these animals! In fact, children themselves would also stop their parents to do just that.
The terrain inside the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo adds to the entire unique experience. Instead of well-paved city streets filled with vehicular traffic and skyscrapers, here at the Safari Zoo Run, running on the uphill and downhill slopes lined by lush greenery and wild flora and fauna made me feel like I was on a hash run of sorts. The terrain offered some challenges to the race rigour and I felt that it upped a notch in the whole resilience and perseverance training while we take in the fresh air. Absolutely perfect!
As with any running event, safety is key. There were marshals stationed at regular intervals along the race route to ensure we were kept to the right path. Hydration points were also a common feature. However, I did note that running among the lush greenery didn’t make us feel quite as warm as a city run even though our Fun Run only started at 10am and ended close to noon.
The special moments don’t just end there. Before and after the run, there are tons of activities to bond as a family. From bouncy castles, to wildlife photography, educational games for kids etc… take your pick and participate! And if you can’t decide, then there’s always the whole-day free Zoo, River Safari or Night Safari admission that comes with the race bib which you can enjoy after the run. Therefore, for participants of the Safari Zoo Run, the fun doesn’t end at the finish line. In fact, it had just begun!
The Safari Zoo Run was only wildly exhilarating; it was a truly enjoyable run filled with many special moments for friends and family to enjoy nature and animals. I must add that despite the large turnout, the Safari Zoo Run was also one of the better organised races around with one of the nicest finisher medals. A brilliant sporting event which we hope more families will join us in participating next year.
Dave’s Tips to enjoying the Safari Zoo Run:
1) Go early: If you are driving, parking is limited as the usual outdoor parking lots have been converted to a carnival ground. The organisers do allow parking along the 1km road leading into the zoo grounds which can serve as a light warm-up exercise before the run starts. Arrive between 7 to 8am will give you ample parking spaces and time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast or snap the obligatory selfies before the run.
2) Public Transport: Alternatively you may want to take a cab or the shuttle bus from nearby MRT stations into the Zoo.
3) Food and Drinks: Although the eateries in the zoo are operational, to avoid the crowd and to pacify your little ones when they are hungry or thirsty, it’s best to bring along some snacks and drinking water of your own.
4) Bring a Camera: There will be many special moments during the run which you would like to capture. Most children these days are very camera-savvy. You can also arm your children (if they are able) with cameras to photograph these moments themselves.
5) Use the Bib: You are entitled to free admission to the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari throughout the race day using the bar code on the race bib. Turn it into a full day excursion for the family!
A shot with the Sengkang Babies
P.S. The Safari Zoo Run is dedicated to the memory of Ah Meng, the zoo’s iconic Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008. Part of the proceeds from the run will benefit the endangered wildlife under the care of Night Safari and Singapore Zoo. See you in 2016!
Disclaimer: We thank Wildlife Reserves Singapore for the invitation to participate in the Safari Fun Run 2015 for the purposes of this review. All opinions and photos are, as usual, ours.