Jogging by Camels: Safari Park Half Marathon

It's one of our state's most scenic 'n wild runs.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

FLEET OF FOOT: They say in running -- "they" being pretty much anybody who gives advice, just so we're clear -- that it is best to set goals with yourself and not against others. Makes total sense, that you'd want to beat your best time, or run a faster Mile 9, but, on occasion, you don't mind pitting your abilities against your pal or maybe even other runners on the course. Of course, that really isn't advisable when participating in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Half Marathon. Yep, it goes right through the park, which is plenty stunning, but the fact is there are denizens of the Escondido-close that will be faster than you. Nope, they won't be on the course with you -- no one has yet invented the human/animal half marathon, as far as we know -- but when you hoof it by the cheetahs, just think to yourself "I am fast, but those exquisite beasties are the fastest land mammals on earth. And I am okay with that." No competition required there; the cheetahs have us beat. That's comforting, in a way, and it may return runners to simply trying to beat their personal goals. Which is best.

DATE AND DETAILS: The Half Marathon sets out across the animal park on Sunday, May 5. You'll gather at Westfield North County Mall first thing (first thing=a 6:30 a.m. start) and then eventually wend your way to Safari Park. Once in the park you'll run the paths, occasionally passing zookeepers and animals out to say hello. (Check out the friendly camel above.)

MORE CHEETAH LOVE: If you're not planning on running, but still want a slice of swiftness, get on one of the park's safaris, which includes a visit to Shiley's Cheetah Run. And they do mean run -- a cheetah zooms along a 300-foot-plus track. Yep, that guy is running faster than you, and pretty much everything else on land. Cheetahs, you fascinate.

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