Originally conceptualised to commemorate the Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch, Ah Meng the Sumatran Orang-Utan who passed away in February 2008 of old age, the Safari Zoo Run has grown from strength to strength since then.
Promotes family bonding and raises awareness of wildlife conservation
Today the aims of the run have changed though – it focuses on promoting family bonding and raising awareness of wildlife conservation. And at the same time, the Safari Zoo Run also gives runners the unique experience of running through the Singapore Zoo.
The Run was organised by the Singapore Zoo & the Night Safari and put together by HiVelocity Events.
And to raise awareness of the conservation of wildlife, runners could choose to support one of four teams for this year’s edition – Ah Meng the Orang-Utan, Chawang the Asian Elephant, Canola the Manatee and Sunny the Hornbill.
Each of the teams had represented the following:
- Team Ah Meng – To support the conservation of the Raffles’ Banded Langur and the other endangered Orang-Utan species.
- Team Chawang – To support the conservation of the Sunda Pangolin
- Team Canola – To support the conservation of the sharks and stingrays
- Team Sunny – To support the conservation of the songbirds
Tenth anniversary edition took place
The tenth anniversary edition of the Safari Zoo Run took place yesterday morning, flagging off at the Singapore Zoo in Mandai Road.
There had been three running categories to cater to different abilities of runners. These were the 10km Safari Zoo Challenge, the 5.5km Safari Zoo Run and the 2.5km Safari Zoo Dash for the children.
I participated in the 10km Safari Zoo Challenge
I took part in the 10km Safari Zoo Challenge under the Team Canola umbrella.
I had picked Team Canola because sharks’ fin soup is a delicacy that I used to enjoy at Chinese weddings and other banquets.
But ever since I heard about how the fins of the sharks are cruelly chopped off when they were caught – and then the sharks are tossed back into the ocean to die, I have stopped eating sharks’ fin soup and instead prefer to choose other substitutes.
So even though I realise that all the teams represent noble causes that I would love to throw my support behind, Team Canola is still the one that means the most to me.
Flagged off at 7am
The 10km Safari Zoo Challenge flagged off at 7am in the morning. As I live in the east, there was no public transportation that started early enough to get me to Mandai on time, so I caught a cab down.
I reached the Zoo at about 6.40am and after a quick trip to the portable washroom, I entered the starting pen with roughly ten minutes to spare. Fortunately the queue for the toilets had not been too long!
Emcee Ross Sarpani reminded runners of safety and running etiquette
Before we had been flagged off, emcee Ross Sarpani reminded runners of the importance of listening to our bodies while running, as well as running etiquettes such as slower runners should stay to the left of the running path so as to allow the faster runners to pass through.
Though I have heard about these many times before, it is good to constantly remind runners of the etiquettes, in order to create a more cohesive and harmonious running community for all.
Ah Meng flagged us off
Ah Meng the Orang-Utan – someone dressed up in an orang-utan suit, was also part of the flag-off party.
I ran at an easy pace
The horn blew punctually at 7am for us to start running.
Said Jocelyn Sutherland, 35, a Grade 5 Form Teacher, “I liked the fact that we started this race punctually and on time.”
Not aiming to treat the Safari Zoo Run as an actual race, I ran the entire 10km at an easy pace.
After all, I had figured that if I had come all the way to the Zoo for a run, I must as well enjoy myself and take the time to soak up all the sights and sounds of the Singapore Zoo. There was no point in running so hard for a personal best this time round.
Stopping to take photos on the way
I thoroughly enjoyed the run. As I ran, I stopped a few times to take pictures of the animals that I had passed along the way. There were quite a few of them around, including the orang-utans, tigers, elephants and lions.
My body had been a little sluggish at the beginning of the run, though, and I admit that it had taken me close to a kilometre to warm up properly.
I must say that at that point in time, it had been a little depressing to see all the runners zooming past me at breakneck speed like bullet trains when I was slowly chugging away like an old steam engine.
But then, I told myself that I would most probably pass most of them later on during the run, though.
This had been my first time taking part in the Safari Zoo Run, and it had been definitely a beautiful and unusual experience, that I will not be able to forget so easily. I have been to the Zoo on many occasions as a little girl, but this was my first time actually running through it.
Agreed Jocelyn, “It was beautiful running through the zoo – I have not been to any Zoo in ten years! This was my first time coming to the Singapore Zoo and it is a gorgeous zoo! I have never heard of a run through a Zoo before too, so that was definitely the selling point for me.”
She added, “There were so many great animals to see at this morning’s run, and plenty of nice, large spaces for them to roam around freely. It was amazing. I stopped my run at least seven to eight times to take photos of the different animals and it was really a unique experience.”
Personally, my most memorable experience during my run was that I got to see the orang-utans being fed. I simply could not resist pausing my run for a few moments to take a couple of photos!
For Kelly Williams, 32, an Associate Director of Recruitment Consulting, seeing the white lions was the best part of the race. He said, “I think that running around the corner and seeing the white lions was amazing.”
Continued Kelly, “It was really inspiring to run with the animals, too; for example you turn the corner and you can see the lions or the elephants and it makes you pick up a bit more momentum. But nope, they weren’t chasing me, though!”
Lots of volunteers lined the race route to cheer on runners
It also helped that there were lots of volunteers who were lining the race route to cheer on the runners and encouraging us to keep on going.
I guess that this had been an attempt by the organisers to motivate the runners, and I thought this was quite inspiring and had lifted my spirits as I ran.
Said Jocelyn, “It was great that everyone had been so supportive along the route.”
Race route was hilly
The race route though, had been pretty hilly, but the slopes were rather gentle and nothing that I could not handle. When it came to the uphills, I slowed down my pace a little so that my heart rate would remain relatively consistent.
But Kelly had thought that the slopes were challenging for him. He said, “The race route was beautiful but very challenging. It really tested my cardio.”
Lots of loops
Besides the presence of the hills, I had also thought that the route was a little loopy; after all, it had consisted of two loops through the Singapore Zoo as well as the Night Safari.
But I guess that the design of the course had been quite understandable though, as there was probably not enough paths for 10km of running.
But at least there had been clear markings and signages though, that had informed the 10km runners for example, to keep to the right if they are making their second loop or to stay left if they are going to finish the race – so this meant that it was quite hard for runners to get lost.
And despite the loops, the running course had still remained relatively interesting and continued to engage me on my second round, but that’s probably because I have never run at the Zoo before.
Usually I admit that I can’t really stand loopy running courses and my mind tends to switch off after the first loop or so. But this had been one of the few exceptions.
Plenty of hydration
The race was quite well organised too, with plenty of hydration stations available to runners. The stations were serving both water as well as Aquarius isotonic drinks, so runners could take their pick.
I admit that for a 10km run, I don’t usually need hydration as it is still a relatively short distance for me – so I didn’t stop and take any.
Safety of runners was well taken care of
I also noted several first aid stations along the way, which meant that the organisers had the safety of the runners in mind, too.
Said Yavuz Yurdusev, 31, a technical consultant in the IT industry, “There was lots of hydration to drink as well as first aid everywhere – that was great for a 10km race. The organisation today as a whole was great – if they continue like this, then I will definitely be back.”
Finishing The Run
The 10km run had finished at the entrance to the Night Safari – this had been a different area to the start point.
As I did not exert myself too hard during the run, I was still feeling quite good when I had crossed the finishing arch and was able to smile and pose for a photo, after stopping my Garmin watch.
We collected our medals and crossed the gantry to enter the Night Safari, where we got to take photos with a few of the zoo animal mascots – people dressed up in costumes. There weren’t many animals to see at the Night Safari though, but that’s possibly because they were all sleeping!
At the Night Safari area, we also had the chance to take photos with cardboard cut-outs of the four animals representing the wildlife conservation teams. So I took a picture with the Canola manatee mascot for my Instagram page.
The Race Village
The race village itself had been located at the entrance to the Singapore Zoo, which meant that we had to cross back there in order to soak up the post-race sights and sounds.
Based on some feedback of some of the media personnel who had been taking photos at the event, the different start and finish locations had been a little bit confusing, considering that the race village had been located at the start line area.
Besides our medals, we received a banana and a can of Aquarius isotonic drink after the run, to re-hydrate our bodies after the 10km run.
Not all of the runners had been aware of these entitlements though – for example, Jocelyn didn’t know that there had been post-race food for runners.
I think that the reason for this, had been probably because we had been required to head back to the race village at the Singapore Zoo, in order to collect them.
For myself, upon seeing that I had just finished my run, a volunteer had told me where to go to collect my post-run food and drink.
There had been quite a lot to see and do at the race village for the runners – with booths put up by the various event sponsors such as RUN Magazine, Twinkle Baby and Prudential.
As well there were photo opportunities with the four team mascots – people dressed up as the mascots and actually walking around. They were so cute looking! And I managed to grab hold of both Ah Meng and Sunny to take photos with.
Compared to Sunny, Ah Meng had a long queue waiting to take photos with her, but she had gamely entertained all of the requests!
I also got back to the race village in time to see the 2.5km Safari Zoo Dash flagging off, and the little children bursting out the blocks, eager to run, had been really heartwarming. I had thought that it’s really nice to see that they are already enjoying the sport of running at a tender age.
Free entry to the Singapore Zoo
The race entry fee for the Safari Zoo Run also came bundled together with free entry into the Singapore Zoo. So this meant that I took the chance to go in and have a look around the zoo for a short while – and also snap some more photos of the wildlife, before heading back home.
I must say that walking through the Zoo certainly brought back the pleasant memories of my childhood days – when I had used to frequent the attraction quite a lot during the school holidays.
Zoo merchandise had also been available to runners at a 10 per cent discount; so I could see runners lining up at the merchandise counters, possibly eager to buy themselves a small souvenir to mark their Safari Zoo Run experience.
Just before leaving the Singapore Zoo, I also decided to treat myself to a Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake flavoured ice cream – as a post-run reward for completing the hilly run.
This is one of the more classic flavours from the American ice cream brand that I always love, and after finishing the run, the Ben & Jerry’s treat had indeed tasted deliciously cold and refreshing to me.
I must say that I had quite an enjoyable time taking part in my first Safari Zoo Run and it was certainly an eye-opening and unique experience to run together with the animals.
Other runners also had a great time and indicated that they would return. Said Kelly, “I would be back to support the animals and the zoo. Everything was really well done.”
Agreed Jocelyn, “Everything was excellent and went very smoothly. This was my first time running the Safari Zoo Run but I will definitely be back again next year.”