Our Mission Statement:
Running Wild is an annual race (USATF-Certified 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run) dedicated to raising awareness about African wildlife endangerment and to raising donations on behalf of African wildlife conservation and anti-poaching efforts.
Real Life is What Happens When You Dream Out Loud
Social Media is often criticized for being a frivolous and self-serving platform, and sometimes it is. But it’s also a bridge that connects us to the world. In early 2015, reports of the elephant poaching crisis in Africa began appearing in my Facebook newsfeed. As a lifelong animal and nature lover, I was surprised – I didn’t realize ivory was still on the market – and alarmed – on average, one elephant was being killed every fifteen minutes. That meant that African elephants, the largest land mammals on earth whose ancestral origins date back 35 million years, were on the brink of disappearing forever from the face of the earth. I immediately began to research and found that elephants were not alone in facing extinction. African rhinos, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes were also on the brink of disappearing from this earth.
The reasons for their population decline vary, including poaching, habitat erosion, overhunting, and human-animal conflict, but they all share one thing in common: they are primarily human-caused. In one respect, I realized that was good news: if humans were the cause, then we were also the solution.
I began to think about how I could be part of that solution. What could someone who lived on another continent do to help preserve the future of African wildlife? That’s when the idea of a race came to mind. The proceeds from the race could benefit conservation and anti-poaching efforts on the ground in Africa.
But planning a race is a big task. It requires a community. So, I shared my seemingly wild idea with friends, some of whom were already aware of the situation in Africa, some of whom were not. They all shared my alarm. No one wanted to live in a world without these animals. To my delight, several were wild about the idea of a race and signed up to join the race committee. It is only because of their hard work, determination, and creativity made this race has become a reality. I am grateful to them for using their time and talents on behalf of African wildlife.
As we shared our vision with the larger community, we discovered we were not alone in our concern for African wildlife. Regis University generously offered to host the race and provides ongoing support. We formed a wonderful partnership with Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS), a nonprofit 501(c)3, whose headquarters is based in Denver, Colorado. All funds raised by Running Wild are donated through WPS to designated beneficiaries. We are thankful for their support and for their groundbreaking and important work in protecting rhinos in South Africa and Indonesia. (They are also one of the beneficiaries of the race).
These magnificent and noble creatures have touched each of us. They are staples in our childhood stories and mythologies; they play vital roles in our ecosystems. Simply watching them gives us pleasure. But they, who have given us so much, now need our help. Nothing less than their survival is at stake. Please explore our website and get involved as a volunteer, sponsor, donor, or race participant. Join the pack and run wild with us in the race against extinction!
–Thank you, Janet L. Rumfelt, Ph.D.
Your Running Wild Race Committee
L to R: Christi Grebenc, Paige Dunlap, Janet Rumfelt, Claire Call, Ann Ambrose, and LeAnn Joswick. Not pictured: Cynthia Adams and Roberta Mancuso.