FOR the staff of West Midland Safari Park, dealing with wildlife is all part of the job – but a team of workers will tackle a completely different animal when they take on the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run in October.
A team of five first-time runners from the safari park, in Bewdley, have signed up for the city centre half marathon to raise money for wildlife charities linked to the park as part of a dedicated fundraising week organised by the team.
The team will compete in the Arcadis Business Challenge at the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run, where Birmingham’s business sector battle it out to see who will be crowned the city’s fastest business.
None of the team has any endurance running experience, and the prospect of taking on the 13.1mile event is a complete step into the unknown.
Sarah Smith is part of the team and believes the half marathon, which takes place on Sunday, 15 October, is a natural progression having started running at the beginning of the year.
She explained: “We decided we would start running as a New Year’s resolution. None of the five of us have done anything like this before but we have gone from not running at all, and we now run three times a week and have completed 10km runs.
“It just happened that on the week of the half marathon the safari park will be holding a charity week so it all just fell into place. It felt like the right thing to do, and we’re all looking forward to it.
“It’s the first time we have done anything like it. We have done a couple of 10km races, this is just the next logical step.
“We haven’t set any targets for ourselves, other than to finish it. We all want to run it and finish it together. None of us are thinking about timings, only to finish something we thought we would never be able to do.”
Sarah and the team from West Midland Safari Park will be raising money for two charities – Save the Rhino and The Cheetah Outreach Trust – and have already started planning suitable costumes to wear on the day.
She added: “Both charities are very close to our hearts, that we work with very closely through the safari park. The charities are something that we are all very passionate about – it’s all very important.
“We’re all very excited about it. As well as the charity angle we’re all doing it for our personal goals, and we’re looking forward to the day. There are moments where we think we might not be able to complete it but that soon goes and the confidence comes back again. It’s definitely something we’re looking forward to.
“We’re working on costumes to wear on the day to make us stand out. We wouldn’t be thinking about fancy dress but definitely something to make us visible in the crowd – something animal print related.”
Angela Potter, Head of Wildlife Operations at West Midland Safari Park, said: “Our staff are very passionate about raising money for such fantastic projects and we are really proud of their commitment to take part in the Great Birmingham Run 2017.
“They are very focused, training really hard and inspiring each other so I have no doubt that they will complete the course and raise a lot of money, which in turn will help rhinos and cheetahs in the wild."
How To Sign Up For The Arcadis Business Challenge
There is still time to sign up to the Arcadis Business Challenge at the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run. Businesses can enter male, female or mixed teams of 4-8 runners to compete for the trophy awarded to the fastest small, medium and large businesses across the categories.
There are different prize categories and all businesses that enter 12 or more people into the event will receive a free engraved plaque to present to their fastest runner. For more information, click here