How Running Can Benefit More Than Just Your Health

Hello and Namaste!

save the chimps
Garfield playing at Save The Chimps

Welcome to Gr(AteFull) Eats. Today I want to talk about chimps… more specifically Save The Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida, and their 16K Chimpathon. 

There are many chimpanzees in the world today being treated like they are not sentient beings. Many chimps are living in constant fear in research facilities that test on animals; being forced to perform in entertainment, and being subjected to the harsh environment of the pet trade. Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization that rescues and permanently houses chimpanzees in safe, loving environments where they can thrive.

About Save The Chimps

Save The Chimps’ founder, Dr. Carole Noon, had the vision to provide sanctuary to the 21 chimpanzees retired from the Air Force’s space program. In 1977, Save The Chimps placed a bid to retire the chimpanzees and were awarded custody after a lawsuit on the chimp’s behalf. With the help of Jon Stryker, founder, and president of Arcus Foundation, Save The Chimps was able to purchase 150-acres of land in Fort Pierce, Florida. In 2002, Save The Chimps acquired an additional 266 chimpanzees from Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research laboratory with the worst record of any lab in the history of the Animal Welfare Act.

Save The Chimps is the largest chimp sanctuary in the world and spans over 150-acres of land on 12 separate 3-acre islands. These islands are landscaped with hills, trees, climbing structures, and platforms where chimpanzees can live in large social structures and express natural behaviors. Save The Chimps currently has over 250 chimpanzees in their care. These chimps live in large family groups and are provided with 3 fresh meals daily, first-rate medical care, and a variety of activities in an enriched environment.

Save The Chimps’ mission is to provide and build support for permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment, and the pet trade.

Check out their website here: Save The Chimps

Volunteering with Save The Chimps

I first heard about this sanctuary because of Tampa’s 2016 VegFest in November. When I talked to the volunteers at the Save The Chimps booth, I was immediately drawn into the mission of the sanctuary and wanted to help support the cause however I could.

I knew I would love to be a volunteer at the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is always happy to welcome new volunteers and there are many ways to contribute help. As a volunteer, one could help prepare meals of fresh fruits and vegetables. Volunteers also help create enrichment items like puzzles that require problem-solving to promote physical activity, mental stimulation and emotional well-being. Volunteers also act as spokespeople on behalf of the sanctuary to make sure people everywhere understand Save The Chimps’ mission and the need to protect chimpanzees from cruelty and abuse.

Information on volunteering can be found here: Save The Chimps, Volunteer Information

A 16K, Chimpathon

While I was looking into volunteer opportunities with them, I saw they hold an annual Chimpathon- a 16K race.

My first thought: What?! A 16K… that’s 10 miles!

So why a 16K? This distance was chosen to represent, and bring awareness to, the $16,000 annual cost to care for just one chimpanzee at Save The Chimps. Last year’s Chimpathon raised over $48,000 and there were nearly 600 participants introduced to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is usually only open to volunteers or members twice a year on member day but for the race, it opens up to allow runners and walkers through 1.2 miles of the 150-acres.

Turns out running my first almost half-marathon, a 16K, would be the first way I helped Save The Chimps. I didn’t have to but I became a member of Save The Chimps by donating $50, one time. I also then signed up for the Chimpathon race, which was $70 to register. Seems like a decent chunk of money to run a race but this organization is 100% funded by donations and not for profit.

Donations for Save The Chimps accepted here: Donate to Save The Chimps

Training for the Chimpathon

To physically prepare for the race was the most nerve-wracking part. I ran cross country (distance running) in high school for 3 years and always loved endurance running but never come close to running 10 miles! Once I made the commitment to myself to actually do it, I had to start training.

To track my miles, I use an app on my phone called “map my run” and it helps me track my distance and pace while keeping track of fitness goals. I have a 105-pound dog that I go on daily runs with, which is usually about 1-2 miles, so I just added on more miles for training.

Two months before the Chimpathon, I started running about 3 miles a day, in addition to walking my dog. I did this at least 3 times a week. After 2-3 weeks of that routine, I started pushing myself to run 4-5 miles, at least 3 times a week. Then finally for the last 2-3 weeks before the Chimpathon, I would run 7 miles at least 3 times a week. Honestly, that and some well-deserved stretches is all I did to prepare to run ten miles without stopping.

My goal for the Chimpathon was not even measured in time, this year’s goal was to complete the run without stopping. I was able to push through, keep fighting and believe in myself. I achieved my goal and then some… I ended up placing 8th best in my age division for females. It only took me 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete, ha! Not too shabby though for real 🙂

*Everyone who participated got a metal, t-shirt, bandana, drawstring backpack, refreshments, and snacks.

chimpathon save the chimps chimpathon save the chimps 

Anyway, this post is a little about being proud of myself for sticking to and completing my fitness goals… but I really wanted to share some information on ways to help chimpanzees in Florida and support incredible animal rescue sanctuaries.

I would love to hear from you… what are some of your current health and fitness goals, and what organizations do you just love to support?

Oh and if you want to learn more about Save The Chimps and enjoy reading books go here to purchase a book that shares beautiful photographs of chimps and explore the ethical questions that drove Dr.Noon to create what is now the world’s largest sanctuary for chimps rescued from biomedical research, entertainment, and the pet trade.

*This post may contain affiliate links which mean if you purchase a product I recommend, I will receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you. My opinion is not for sale and this affiliate program helps me earn a little extra cash to help me live my dream of writing for you while saving you time and money having to search for products. 

Until next time,

Be well, love yourself, love animals, and love Earth.

Jessa

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