The infamous ‘Marathon des Sables’ is a gruelling, six-day, 250km multi-stage adventure race through one of the world’s most inhospitable climates – the Sahara desert. Participants must be fully self-sufficient, carrying on their back everything except water. Only a few who start make it across the finish line. In April 2015, a 5-personRunning for Rangers team endured the Marathon des Sables to raise money for the welfare of Kenyan rangers, who risk their lives daily to protect elephants and rhino, and help rural communities feel safe.
In January 2016, the NRT anti-poaching teams, 9-1 and 9-2, received much-needed uniforms and equipment, from the money raised by the Running for Rangers at the Marathon des Sables. The 9-1 and 9-2 squads spend up to 26 days a month in the field, conducting anti-poaching patrols, gathering intelligence and responding to emergency insecurity incidents, like cattle rustling or elephant poaching. 9-1 have been key in ensuring the safety of the newly introduced black rhinos in the Sera Rhino Sanctuary.
Good quality military clothing is not available in Kenya and has to be imported – this includes decent boots, socks and wet and cold weather gear. “If rangers are not a adequately equipped in their areas of operations they will cease to be effective at their jobs. They will also lose morale with the possibility of defecting or being threatened by to the poaching gangs” say Pete Newland, a member of the Running for Ranger team.
This year, Running for Rangers aims to raise US$ 1.2 million by completing another super-human feat. Their 2016 challenge is the Jungle Ultra in Peru – a 230km high altitude run through jungle trails, mountain roads and village tracks. During this 5 stage event, humidity levels will approach 100%, and the runners will have to be self-sufficient, carrying their own hammock, sleeping bag, food and supplies for the entire race.
They want the money raised to go towards equipping and boosting the morale of armed rangers in Kenya’s private and community conservancies.