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Running Wild

Nicki and her beloved Murphy, who had a personality as big as a cheetah!

One of my favorite aspects of running is the animals. Whether it’s the red-winged blackbird blazing by or the bunny nibbling the roadside grass, I’m always on the lookout for wildlife on the run.

So when I saw the San Diego Zoo Safari Park would be hosting a half marathon and 10K, I couldn’t resist. My first visit to the Safari Park was planned around the running of the cheetah (at 3:30 p.m. daily, you can witness top speeds around 70 mph)

Right after registered, I saw a rattlesnake on a run near my office. Luckily it wasn’t moving and was all stretched out (steer clear of coiled snakes!), so I didn’t have to worry about outrunning that guy.

A few days later, I saw a brilliant azur bird chasing a squirrel. Perhaps away from a nest? Luckily I wasn’t too tripped up by the uneven sidewalk while I was rubbernecking.

I’m not sure what kind of big animals I might see at the race on Sunday, but something tells me I won’t be looking down at caterpillars. Though I don’t want to step on them!

For a little pre-race inspiration, here are some top speeds for the zippiest of critters…

Peregrine Falcon: 220 mph in a hunting dive (fastest animal known)
Spine-Tailed Swift: 106 mph (fastest bird in “powered flight”)
Cheetah: 70 to 75 (fastest land animal)
Ostrich: 45 mph (fastest bird on land)
Pronghorn: 61 mph
Blue Wildebeest, Springbok and Thompson’s Gazelle: close to 50 mph
Usain Bolt: 28 mph (fastest man)

Even if we can’t run as fast, this race can be our little zoom at the zoo. There are still spaces for the half marathon, if you’re inspired to dart, scamper, gallop, crawl, fly, hurtle or hotfoot like the wildlife.

Tell us about your best animal spotting on a run! Tweet us @womensrunning to share your story!