Colin Dodds, 7, with mom Cori and sister Arianna, 9, just after finishing the 500-metre Cub Run at the Toronto Zoo on Sept. 21.

Charity runners young and old brave rain at Toronto Zoo

Oasis Zoo Run a first for Arianna Dodds, 9, and brother Colin, 7

Arianna Dodds celebrated her ninth birthday in the rain.

It was her first time participating in the Cub Run with her younger brother, 7-year-old Colin.

Although the siblings had never completed the race before, they’re not new to running, according to their mom, Cori Dodds.

“They used to come with me in the stroller and then I just signed them up for little races like this,” Dodds said.

Dodds, who placed 884 out of 2364 runners in the Oasis Zoo Run’s 10K race on Sept. 21 at the Toronto Zoo, says she’s been running her entire life. She and her husband are avid runners, which she says has positively influenced their children.

“I think it makes them feel a lot like Mummy and Daddy,” Dodds said.

The concept behind the zoo run was to create an exciting, fun family day at the zoo.

—Alan Brookes

The Cub Run, which has been around since 2006, was one of three events at the Oasis Zoo Run, organized by the Canada Running Series Foundation (CRSF). There was the 10K run Dodds participated in, the Cub Run her kids joined, and a 5K walk/run.

The CRSF is a not-for-profit branch of the Canada Running Series (CRS) — a for-profit organization — and was lead to fruition by CRS president and run director Alan Brookes.

“The concept behind the zoo run was to create an exciting, fun family day at the zoo,” he said.

The Cub Run is an important event for the charity, which promotes healthy living among young people, Brookes said. The 500-metre race was created specifically for children age 2 and up, but there were also some strollers in the mix.

“I think that’s all in the spirit of making the zoo a fun place to go and making fitness and healthy lifestyle a fun, fun thing to do,” Brookes said.

Many of the younger children participating in the run had adults running with them, their excitement as the race was about to begin clear in their smiles and jumps.

“I couldn’t believe all the children that came out and they were so keen,” Brookes said. “There were one or two in tears, but most of them were just thrilled.”

After the rainy run, a wet Arianna said her favourite part was “just running and having fun,” and added she’d do it again.

According to the CRSF, funds raised from the Zoo Run went toward several on-going projects at the Toronto Zoo, such as the Wildlife Nutrition Centre, Reproductive Physiology Research Program and the Animal Health Centre.