Our very own Running Viking is taking on a rather unusual challenge at the beginning of August as he takes on For Rangers Ultra – a 200K+ run through five of Kenya’s wildlife conservancies. This man doesn’t do things by halves. Here, Carsten Nielsen offers his Kenyan Ultra preview…
From the moment I heard about this Kenya Ultra run, I just knew that I had to be one of the 50 competitors entering this race. The concept is so crazy that it will be interesting to see how the organisers are going to handle the safety around it.
The race itself is pretty standard in the category ‘unsupported stage race’. You carry and run with your own gear and food for the duration of the race. The race is five stages over five days and altogether approx. 220 km in distance. Temperatures will be around 25-30 degrees and the altitude of the race is between 1800 – 2800 meters above sea level.
What’s NOT ‘pretty standard’ are the other elements of this race. The runners will race through five wildlife conservancies, each of which has its own characteristic terrain – from verdant grasslands to forest. It is the playground of East Africa’s iconic wildlife. Have you ever been on a safari, sitting in a jeep, while lions walk around the car? If so, then you know how amazing and scary that is. Here runners will be surrounded by lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinos, elephants, zebras and so on. Crazy right?
How do you survive in this terrain for five days? Well, all stages are around 35-50 km long to make sure that all runners can complete them in daylight (I guess that you would only survive here 10 minutes in the dark). While we run, around 200 local armed rangers will patrol the route in 4×4 vehicles. Add to that an airplane overlooking the area to monitor the movement of the animals.
The race is organized by an English company called Beyond the Ultimate in partnership with Save the Rhino and For Rangers. It is not a cheap race, BUT a lot of money goes to a couple of very important causes:
1. Protection of the white Rhino, which has a very risky life due to poachers
2. Support of the local rangers, who are risking their lives daily in the battle against poachers. Countless number of rangers has lost their lives in this battle. I see them as heroes.
I fly to Nairobi 2-3 days before the race starts to get adjusted to the climate and altitude. After that there is pick up and transportation for all of us to the camp up north, where the race starts.
For Rangers Ultra in Kenya was supposed to be my A-race this year. My plan was to run fast. But with non-stop injuries since February I have had to accept that this is not going to happened.
Instead my focus will be on enjoying the biggest adventure of a lifetime. For sure this kind of race will only happen once for me. It will, for sure, be an epic race.
For more on the race: http://beyondtheultimate.co.uk/ultra/for-rangers-ultra/#!/2018/08/01