Over the summer I blogged about how two NFL players—the Titans' Chris Johnson and Devin Hester of the Bears—would be racing a cheetah to kick off Nat Geo's "Big Cat Week." Well, that race came and went over the Thanksgiving holiday, and you might be a little surprised at the result: Hester defeated the world's fastest land animal. I'm not sure if I'd call it a win, though, given how things played out.
The gist, in case you hadn't heard about the race before now, was that Nat Geo wanted to pit a pair of world-class athletes against their big cats. Johnson was selected for his speed, Hester for his agility. Each man would engage in an individual race against an adult cheetah (a 10-foot wall would stand between the pair, in order to ensure that everyone remained safe). Footage from the race would be aired at the end of a special dedicated to exploring the cheetah species and all of its strengths and weaknesses.
Nat Geo took a few steps to level the playing field, though, something which that certainly played a part in Hester's victory. Rather than a Point A to Point B footrace, athletes and cheetahs alike had to stop and change direction on the course—which, as you might imagine, is a lot easier for a human being than a cheetah. Especially since the big cat has no idea it's in any sort of race, nor what a race is.
The course was set at 30-yards—Johnson went up and back once, Hester up and back twice. The cats' participation was encouraged by a lure, which they readily took off after, much like a greyhound might race after a fake rabbit. Johnson lost his race in the closing few yards, but the nimble Hester managed to eek out a close victory. The more turns his cheetah had to make, the more time it spent trying to regain its footing rather than running. So, while the race wasn't entirely fair, it made for some entertaining and educational TV. And, at the end of the day, it's no secret that neither of these guys would want to try to outrun a cheetah in the wild.