Running back Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Devin Hester raced two of Busch Gardens’ fastest cheetahs, Jenna and Nave, earlier this year in the park’s Cheetah Run habitat. For the challenge, Busch Gardens and Nat Geo WILD partnered to build a walled enclosure in Busch Gardens’ Cheetah habitat so the athletes and the cheetahs could run side-by-side safely.
According to NFL records, Chris Johnson is considered the fastest player in the NFL and Devin Hester holds the league’s all-time record for most kicks and punts returned for touchdowns.
During the race, park guests watched as the cheetahs dashed across their 220-foot sprint path for the race. The NFL athletes ran two different exercises on the other side of the safety wall. Johnson’s challenge was based on shear speed and included a back-and-forth stretch on the sprint path. Hester’s challenge highlighted his agility and required him and his cheetah competitor to run four lengths of the sprint, changing direction three times.