Runners gathered on a beautiful sunny day at the starting line for the Henry Doorly Zoo’s 38th annual Zoo Run on Sept. 2.
The Zoo Run began in 1980 as a way for family members to become involved in physical activities while promoting family fun. Each year, the event is organized to cater to the needs of children as well as the interests of athletes. The zoo offers a 5 mile run for those who want to partake in a more physical race, but also offers a 2 mile run/walk for younger children and parents.
Check-in started at 6 a.m. with the 5 mile race starting at 7 a.m. Water and chocolate milk was provided for runners and walkers to sip while they waited for their races to begin. Each race was staggered to separate the avid runners from the walkers and prevent any injuries during the day of athleticism and fun.
Sallie Weathers, a UNO alumna, helped coordinate the event. Her job was to promote the run, organize the race trails and execute the event on the day of the race.
“This event is fun because it really includes all age groups and every runner of different abilities,” Weathers said. “We were a little leery of the weather early that morning, however it cleared up around 6 a.m. and made for perfect weather.”
Thousands of dollars were raised to continue the standard of excellence the zoo has created through its years of dedicated service to the people of Omaha and beyond. Almost 600 people attended the event and donated to the cause.
“Due to the weather, we saw a decrease in the expected attendance,” said Madison Woltemath, marketing and event specialist. “We have participants who attend the event every year no matter the circumstances and we really appreciate their support of the Zoo.”
The cost was $30 for members and $40 for non-members, all of which go straight to the zoo for their conservation projects around the world. Those who participated in the event received free bagels, bananas and admission to the zoo after the run for a full day of wholesome family time. All who participated in the run/walk received a finisher’s medal, as well.
“Zoo Run, like all of our zoo events, is a fundraiser for the Zoo and all of our conservation efforts,” Woltemath said. “Events such as this help us to care for our animals and the animals in the wild. We are very proud and appreciative of the support we get from the community in Omaha and surrounding areas to help us do so.”
The event was planned over Labor Day weekend to invite travelers from all around to come enjoy the zoo’s many attractions and exhibits. Weathers said being at the zoo in the morning creates a whole new atmosphere for guests and racers to enjoy.
The Zoo Run is an event that encourages people of all ages to visit the zoo, partake in a fun run and spend the rest of the day appreciating all the perks the Henry Doorly Zoo has to offer.