We barely made it! - Safari Zoo Run 2019

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 01, 2019

The Safari Zoo Run is one of our all-time favourite runs and we've always looked forward to it year after year with no exception. That is mainly because the kids adore animals and cherish every chance they have to get up close with them. Moreover, we enjoy family walks and see it as a great way to bond, and it adds so much more meaning knowing that we are doing it for a good cause and helping to conserve wildlife.

The run took place last Sunday and I have to say that it didn't start off too smoothly as we had to deal with a tantrumy kid who was still feeling the after effects from having been out in the sun the day before, as well as being concerned for one who just suffered two bad falls and had wounds on his face and legs. Nonetheless, we made it in good timing and arrived at the venue before 9:30am, which was supposedly the flag off timing for our 4km leisure walk. It didn't take too long for the hubby to find a parking lot and we swiftly made our way to the main event venue.

As compared to last year's 5.5km walk, this was going to be significantly shorter but we were still pretty excited as we heard that the course would include River Safari for the first time ever. Actually, we just visited River Safari last month since we have the 4-park annual passes - which by the way are totally worthwhile to buy if your kids love to visit the parks - but it's not the same as when you go through it with dozens of other families as part of a meaningful walk, right?

We were feeling thankful for the bright sun and good weather as we made our way to the starting point, only to realise that the queue was far away because it was sooooo long! There were over hundreds of families who were joining us in the same event and it was initially a heartening sight as I appreciated seeing fellow Singaporeans coming together to walk for a good cause and enjoy a family weekend. I heard from the organisers that this was a record breaking year with over 6,000 participants who joined, woohoo!

By this time, everyone of us was in a good mood and we were all feeling ready to go! Except that the queue was not moving much. Nope. Not even after we took dozens of photos and wefies. It turned out that for the first time, we had to wait over half an hour just for the flag off to happen and after such a long time under the hot sun, it was understandable that many of the kids in the queue were starting to whine, grumble and feel tired even before the run began. We had to keep assuring ours that it was going to start soon and we would be on our way before we knew it.

When the horn sounded for our wave - we were in the third - we were only to happy to move off and start our leisure walk! See the route below? By right, we would be walking through the Zoo, then the Night Safari and finally River Safari which was where the finishing point would be. For me, the thought of running through Night Safari in the day was the highlight because come on, who gets to do that, right? I still remember how we came up close with Chawang, Sri Nandong and their calf Neha last year and spent a good amount of them watching them frolicking in the mud. It was such a vivid memory that stayed with me ever since.

As always, the best part of the Safari Zoo Run is in being able to admire the animals and stop whenever you want in order to take a closer look, take a famfie or just take a quick break to catch your breath. That's the point about not participating in competitive runs but instead in this leisure run so we could walk at our own pace and take things a little slower.

We have always been in one of the last couple of waves in the previous years - yup, we are not early birds - but based on our experience, we were still able to let the kids stop to look at the animals they like and learn a thing or two about them along the way. So, we had presumed that this would be the same too. Why not, right?

I guess it was a mistake on our part to stop too many times in the front part of the journey because we likely ended up being one of the last few families in the walk. I was looking through our pictures and videos from last year and it seemed that the route was much clearer at that time due to the placement of traffic cones (to prevent participants from detouring and going into the small paths) and help of marshals. This year, we were free to roam into the various animal exhibitions and could easily count how many marshals we passed by too.

At our first water stop, we made sure to fill up all our green water bottles which we had received in the race packs. I find it such a great initiative that they are doing away with the disposable cups because we have seen hundreds, even thousands, of them being thrown away after the run. It might be a little more troublesome for competitive runners to bring their own bottles but since ours was a leisure walk, we made sure we brought along one bottle each to keep everyone hydrated. I like how the staff allowed our kids to fill up their own water bottles too, it helped to make them feel important and responsible in a way.

We were thrilled when we finally saw the 1km signboard which meant that we had fulfilled one quarter of the run already! Next up, we would be moving onto the Night Safari, right right?

Alas, at this moment, we came face to face with a lady marshal and she directed the hubby to lead us to the River Safari. We were feeling confused as we made our way to the Zoo entrance and I was bewildered by why we would skip the Night Safari entirely. So we debated for a few minutes and made our way back to the Zoo again in search of another marshal (there were almost none of them in sight). When we finally found a guy in that bright red shirt, he then frankly told us that he was not sure of the course and couldn't be of much help. So many question marks appeared in my mind and as I tried to contact our friends and the organiser to ask for help, precious time flew past again and it was at this moment that I had to accept dismally that we were officially 'lost' and were not going to complete the run. For the first time ever.

In not wanting to deprive the kids of their medals, we decided to skip straight to the finishing line and it was there that we bumped into some of my friends who also gave feedback about the route being cut short or that they were told to skip one of the parks too. I guess it all boiled down to the timing issues and they had to wrap up everything by a certain time. Still, I didn't understand why we could complete a 5.5km walk last year at a similar pace but be unable to finish a 4km one this year and it somehow made the kids and I feel a tad disappointed. Well, at least we made it to the photo backdrop for this family shot with our medals! Haha.

The good thing about joining a Safari Zoo Run is that you gain entry to the parks - in this case, the Zoo and River Safari - for the entire day after the walk. It wouldn't matter much to us as we are annual pass holders, but since we were there, how could we pass up the chance to explore more, right? At this point, I just wanted to make the kids happy so we made our way back to Ah Meng restaurant for a chicken rice lunch and we subsequently explored more of the Zoo and visited the Dragons and Beasts exhibit.

This time round, we were truly able to take our own sweet time in interacting and admire the wildlife. Haha. Yup, perhaps we could have made it in a better timing if we had rushed the kids earlier on during the run and not stop to stare. But if that had happened, how would the Safari Zoo Run be unlike any other run then?

By the afternoon, it was plain to see that the kids were feeling a little tired already but when asked if they would like to go and check out the River Safari, the answer was a big "Yes!". It wasn't without hiccups though because we had to mediate conflicts and handle a big meltdown in the middle of it all, but that's just like any other day in parenthood, right?

Thankfully, our River Safari is mostly sheltered so that allowed us to escape from the scorching heat and everyone felt better shortly. The littlest, despite feeling the fatigue, skipped his nap so that he could see more fishes, monkeys and reptiles. I would have wanted to visit Kai Kai and Jia Jia again - we just saw them last month - but the queue was so long that we decided to give it a miss this time. Still, we made time to take some shots in front of the giant tanks because it's always a joy just sitting there and watching the fishes swim past.

At 4:00pm, we had a tea break and sat down to enjoy a cuppa, fruits and the famous Panda Pau from Mama Panda kitchen. While most of the kids from the run were already home by this time, ours were still running on high levels of energy and they wanted to watch the new animal show "Once Upon A River" which we did previously and deemed it as one of our favourites. So, we stayed on!

The show was jam packed with visitors but thankfully, we managed to find a spot at the side where we sat down to enjoy the show, whose performers included an iguana, a prairie dog, an otter, pelicans, a hornbill and our favourites were the capybaras! We even got to feed the capybaras, stroked them and take a wefie with them. Awww, cute!

Soon, it was 5:30pm and we were with the manatees trying to let the kids say "Hi" to their team mascot, Canola. She is one of the four mascots for Safari Zoo Run alongside Ah Meng, Chawang and Sunny. The hubby even tried googling to find out which one of them is Canola, okay.

Anyway, it so happened that this was the time for the manatee feeding session so we decided to hang around and watch them devour the plants. Yup, they are primarily herbivores and together with dugongs, the only plant-eating marine mammals. I have to say that the baby manatee was really adorable to watch! This was a highlight for the kids and a great way to end off our day too.

Was it a great day? Yes, I will definitely say so, judging from the big smiles they had at the end of everything. Despite everything, we still enjoyed ourselves, had an awesome time and will definitely love to come back for future Safari Zoo Runs. Come next year, we will learn our lesson, focus on our path more and get distracted less.

When the parks were closed, guess what we finally did? Cross that FINISH line. Yup, gotta do it the right way so that we can finally say that we earned our medals, right? I bet we were the last family to cross it that day and that has to be a fond memory in some way too. So, hip hip hooray!

Disclosure: We received a media invite to be part of Safari Zoo Run 2019. All pictures and opinions are my own.


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