It’s been a busy few months here at For Rangers HQ. We’ve collectively run, rowed and rode multiple challenges all to raise money for our brave rangers protecting Africa’s wildlife. Here’s a little insight into what we’ve been up to lately.
Our toughest challenge to date has undoubtedly been the fearsome ‘Beyond the Ultimate’ Jungle Ultra in Peru. In the lead up to the 230km race through the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, our team undertook months of intense training to ensure they were at peak physical fitness. The Running for Rangers team was made up of ten runners that took up the mantle of running five marathons over five days, from the 5th to the 10th of June.
The Jungle Ultra was a test of endurance that put our athletes through their paces, with humidity levels reaching near 100% and temperatures of up to 40 degrees. However, we are incredibly proud to be able to say that out of the fifty people who started, just over half went on to complete the challenge and the entire Running for Rangers team were among those who finished. And to top it off we raised over $60,000 USD for our Rangers.
A brilliant full account of the race can be found on the wonderful Hollie Woodhouse’s blog here - www.holliewoodhouse.com.
A mere few weeks later, on the 25th of June, we entered two teams in the Lewa Safaricom Marathon, organised in conjunction with Tusk Trust. The race is a gruelling 42km through the Kenyan bush and is Lewa’s most anticipated annual event. In total, 1,256 people ran the half marathon while 148 super-human athletes ran the full, with over 5,000 spectators coming to show their support of the entire course.
The race is renowned for being one of the world’s top ten marathons and is no walk in the park. The event takes place within the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and the course runs through some of East Africa's most beautiful scenery. The heavily protected 61,000-acre conservancy is home to over 100 rhino, herds of elephants and much more. Since the race was first held in 2000 with 150 participants, thousands of runners have now taken part, and it has raised well over £400,000 for projects across Kenya.
This year, Pete Newland ran the full marathon on behalf of Running for Rangers, and we entered three teams in the half. The first two teams were made up of a mixture of rangers from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Borana Conservancy, the NRT Rapid Response Team 92 and the Kenyan Wildlife Service Rangers. One team, fronted by Sam Taylor, ran in full kit carrying 15kg each and rifles and completed it in an excellent time and the second, running in sports kit, went on to come first in the overall event which is an outstanding achievement.
We also entered a UK Running For Rangers team, made up of our Shaun Leavy - CEO and founder of Kinetic Six, whose company delivers capabilities to rangers across Africa - and three friends, Andy Brear, Karen Wharton and Philip Wharton who were representing Tsavo Conservation Group. They all completed in good time and raised some amazing funds for our Rangers.
This week marked the finish of our first ever Rowing for Rangers event. Two independent supporters of For Rangers - Marcus Savage and Peter Tyrrell - decided to take part in a 1,000 mile kayak race along the Yukon river, rowing for 18 hours a day over 7-10 days, all to raise funds for our Rangers. They set out on the 18th and finished the course an incredible eight days and 50 minutes later clocking 160 hours of river time in total.
We are incredibly proud that our ultra marathon running has inspired others to take part in challenges of their own to support our cause. Huge thanks go to the amazing Marcus and Peter for all their hard work and training in the lead up to the race, for their incredible endurance throughout and for the £2380 they have raised for us so far!
Looking ahead, we have several challenges approaching including our first Riding for Rangers event!
On the 1st of August, our first Riding For Rangers team will be embarking on the Mongolian Derby. Two more independent supporters of For Rangers - Venetia Phillips and Tatiana Mountbatten - are riding the longest and toughest horse race in the world: 1,000km through Mongolian wilderness over a variety of terrain. We wish the girls all the best with this epic challenge and look forward to being updated on their progress.
Towards the end of the month, we have the Fire & Ice Ultra Marathon, on the 27th August. This 250km race is Iceland's toughest foot race and will be embarked on by our own Pete Newland and Sarah Watson. They're currently undergoing very rigorous training, and we can't wait to see them set off!
On the 24th of September, a team of nine will also be competing in the Tough Mudder 2016 challenge to raise money for our Rangers. Huge thanks to brothers Richard and Edward Wharton for getting a team together and best of luck to all competing!
In the meantime, we have been putting all that fundraising to good use! Last May we donated $10,000 to the families of three African Parks Garamba National Park Rangers that were killed while protecting African elephants from armed poachers in the DRC on 23rd April. It was a terrible tragedy to lose those three brave men, but we're glad we were able to provide financial support to their families in times of need.
Earlier this month we also issued new equipment to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and teams 90, 91 and 92 of the Northern Rangelands Trust. The packs included essential equipment such as hydration systems, shelter sheets and camouflage uniforms as well as tracking software, thermal imagers and GPS systems.
It's always a rewarding moment when we can see the immediate results of months of training and competing in extreme conditions, knowing that all that hard work is worth it. Though it's often hard to remember that when we're sweating from every pore and suffering from altitude sickness!
Thank you to all our supporters and collaborators for all their incredible work and the funds they’ve raised. We look forward to updating you all on our progress soon!
If you would like to compete in an ultra marathon, or extreme challenge in support of Running for Rangers, please do get in touch.