Watch Trail Runners’ Hilarious Reactions When They Spot a ‘Lion’ on the Path

In an epic prank, a fake cat was positioned along the iMfolozi Outrun race course in South Africa.

  • Runners were surprised by a fake lion that was placed along the route of the iMfolozi Outrun race through the iMfolozi nature reserve near Durban, South Africa, on August 31 and September 1.
  • The 19K and 5K trail races aimed to raise funds to help maintain the iMfolozi nature reserve, which is the oldest recognized nature reserve in Africa.

Seeing a lion up close and personal during a tour of an African game reserve isn’t too unusual, but it would certainly be frightening if you saw one while trekking the savanna on foot, rather than in the safety of a vehicle.

That’s what happened during the inaugural iMfolozi Outrun, a two-day running event that featured trail runs of 19K and 5K distances through South Africa’s iMfolozi game reserve on August 31 and September 1. The routes meandered through the reserve, which is the oldest recognized nature reserve in Africa and is known for its population of white rhinos.

Since this was the first year for the race, the participants didn’t know quite what to expect during their run through the safari—which was something that the race directors good-naturedly took advantage of.

A few miles into the race, they positioned a fake—albeit realistic-looking—life-sized lion a few feet off the trail, so it appeared to be watching the runners through the tall grass.


“We as organisers came up with it. It turned out to be a rather good surprise,” event director Stu Berry told Runner’s World.

The race organisers had a camera rolling to catch the runners reactions as they passed by, with hilarious results. Most runners were first distracted by the camera—one asked, ‘Are we gonna be famous?’—then looked to their right, where the faux cat looked ready to pounce. After jumping, yelping, and letting a few expletives fly, the runners were able to laugh it off and keep going.

According to the event organisers, the stuffed lion belongs to KZN Wildlifethe organization that manages the reserve, and is used for educational purposes.

Throughout the weekend, the runners did get their fair share of wildlife sightings in the reserve—including real lions, zebras, and rare native white rhinos, all of which are protected in the reserve—but thankfully not so close-up. At the close of the race weekend, the participants raised $21,962, which will go towards upkeep of the reserve and its various community and protection initiatives.

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