Running is a passion for many, whether you use it to clear your head, stay in shape, enjoy the outdoors, or escape your emails. What many people don’t consider, however, is running to save elephants and rhinos! The For Rangers Ultra is put together just for that reason.
The For Rangers Ultra raises money and awareness for the rangers in Africa, protecting the elephants and rhinos faced with extinction by poachers. Below we discuss what the run is, who it is for, and what you need to do if you are interested in running the For Rangers Ultra yourself.
Who Are The Rangers?
In Africa, a war is currently underway between the organized poaching cartels and the Rangers fighting every day to end the massacre of elephants and rhinos. The last few remaining animals are facing death in the name of a multi-billion dollar ivory trade market. Poachers and Rangers risk their lives daily in the fight between money and the survival of these magnificent creatures.
The price of ivory from a rhino horn is now close to the value of gold, which is somewhere around $65,000 – $75,000 per kilogram, and the trade is worth $17 billion per year. The costs of Ranger continuation are escalating quickly as the poacher’s technology becomes more advanced. Rangers are being cut, and their wages are being reduced. The Covid-19 pandemic escalated these cuts even more; some Rangers’ salaries have been reduced 60% – 80%.
Various running organizations exist to help support and earn money for these rangers. For example, Running For Rangers is a group of motivated people who run marathons and ultramarathons worldwide and dedicate it to the rangers in Africa fighting to protect the animals and land.
The For Rangers Ultra is another example. It is an ultramarathon held in the heart of Africa and dedicated entirely to the heroes fighting for the elephants and rhinos.
What is the For Rangers Ultra?
The For Rangers Ultra is a grueling ultramarathon held in Kenya. It is split into five different sections, each crossing a different wildlife conservancy — Lewa, Lolldaiga, Ol Jogi, Borana, and Ol Pejeta. These are considered some of the most exclusive and highly protected places on Earth, highly sought after by the illegal poaching cartel, and breathtakingly beautiful.
The Running for Rangers’ terrain varies significantly among the conservancies, moving from forests to grasslands, over hills and mountains, and through dried rocky riverbeds and plains. Weather and conditions vary hourly in this landscape. The terrain undulates between 1500m and 2000m above sea level. Daytime temperatures fluctuate between 15 degrees Celsius and 34 degrees Celsius, while nighttime temperatures drop down to 2 degrees celsius.
The full distance is 230 kilometers or 143 miles.
This Running for Rangers run is an entirely self-sufficient ultra, meaning you need to carry everything you need, including food, sleeping gear, safety equipment, water, and anything else you require. When you register for the event, a list of mandatory items is given to you, and you must carry them with you. Specialized gear is required to get you through this run.
You are provided a canvas tent to sleep under and clean drinking water at each checkpoint, spaced 10km apart. When running any ultramarathon, each item of gear you bring matters. When running over 100 miles in unpredictable terrain, you want to make sure you have the highest quality gear available to you.
This includes, first of all, good trail running shoes that keep you comfortable and are durable. You will also need plenty of food, but not too much to weigh you down. Boiling water is provided along the run so that you can cook dehydrated foods. Protection from the elements is a must, especially in Kenya. Wind, rain, cold, and the hot sun are all possibilities, so it is best to be prepared for all of them.
You will also have a required list of safety items that you are required to carry. However, there are highly trained medical staff situated at each checkpoint, and people are monitoring you throughout the entire race. Finally, you will need sleeping equipment. Something light but warm will be necessary to make it through the frigid Kenyan nights.
Some non-essential but nice items to have might include a GPS tracking watch, hiking poles, headphones, and toilet paper. When packing, keep in mind that this gear will be with you the entire time, so take only what you know you will need.
The For Rangers Ultra is not for the faint of heart. Before signing up, it is recommended that you have a significant level of personal fitness and high endurance. The sign-up requires you to have finished a marathon within a year of the For Rangers Ultra.
Before attempting any ultramarathon, there is a list of things you should do to prepare:
- The first step is to sign up and pay for the ultra marathon. For the For Rangers Ultra, you can do that here.
- The next step is to get in shape! Any excess body weight will slow you down during your marathon.
- Get used to running. Practice doing marathons and do long runs each week.
- Keep your nutrition and diet healthy. Stay hydrated and keep track of the foods you are putting into your body.
- Test different gear and find exactly what is most comfortable and works best for you.
- Believe in yourself. Remember that running is 90% in your head and 10% in your body!
The For Rangers Ultra is an amazing creation that allows dedicated runners to access some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes globally, push their minds and bodies to extreme limits, and protect some of the world’s most magnificent creatures.
Every day, elephants and rhinos are pushed closer to the brink of extinction. It is estimated that each day, 100 elephants in Africa are brutally killed for their ivory. Luckily, rangers in Africa risk their lives in rough terrain to help defend these animals.
If ultramarathon running is not for you, but you still feel compelled to help fight this cause, spreading awareness and donating to the cause are other ways you can contribute.
Please visit https://www.forrangers.com/home to help this important cause.
(Photo credit: Mikkel Beisner)