Currently hard at work organising the Brandberg rhino Run and Ride, as well as the Brandberg FKT Challenge, we are incredibly thankful for the amount of support from sponsors and athletes all over Namibia and beyond. At the initiation of the very first Rhino Run in 2015, a tiny seed was planted that grew into the golden thread that tied us to our beneficiary and the other benefactors, tighter and stronger every year:
*We had the local Uis ‘tannie’ that donated a handmade apron as a lucky draw gift to a runner. Another kind Uis lady brought a huge bag of oranges to be cut up for runners at the aid station.
In all three events there has been generous people who sponsored less fortunate but incredibly talented runners and riders to take part. In 2016 one of these sponsored athletes was the second overall rider to finish the cycling race! There are friends that support the event by taking part year after year. They enter early and they pitch up.
In 2015 we had the inspirational story of Uschi and Zin, who did what they could, with what they had, where they were. Zin’s donated painting raised NAD 4000.00 during the auction the night before the 2015 event, which was the biggest personal donation of the event.
Some of athlete friends run the Comrades Ultra the week before the Rhino Run and can barely walk, but they come. And not only do they come, they give a hand with registrations or bring coffee or help watch the kids, they are there in full glory, part of the family.
People donate copies of beautiful, author-signed books, they give discounts on goods and services, they write paragraph after paragraph of free, heartfelt articles focussing on the event to encourage participants to take part and sponsors to support. They share the event posters on Facebook and get their friends to do so too. They take the most beautiful photos and let us use them for free. The list goes on. There are so many inspirational ways in which people just do what they can, with what they have, where they are, to support the Rhino cause. We remain grateful and in awe, but mostly inspired.
Organising and directing the Rhino Run and Ride has been very fulfilling for us. We get to deal with the most generous sponsors and talented athletes during the months before the event. For months the excitement builds up and finally culminates on race weekend. It sure is hard work but the rewards are tenfold.
And then, just like that, it is all over. No more endearing emails or phone calls to see how things are progressing, no more deadlines, no more excited athletes with last minutes inquiries. All done, medals awarded and everyone content. And this is the point where we usually find ourselves with a whole lot of energy and inspiration drawn from other amazing people, and a vast open canvas of possibilities on how to pay it forward and let the love continue to grow.
At the end of 2016, during a trip to Canada, we met with the inspiring folk of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve near the Arctic Circle. Introducing to them the good work of SRT and the predicament of our last free-roaming population of black rhino, we learned that equal but different hardships are experienced by them in the safe-keeping of north-american animal species, and that every little bit of effort counts. No matter how small we may think it is at the time.
This year we will be venturing to Europe to climb and run some glorious mountains. Seeing as the Mont Blanc Marathon takes place a mere two weeks after the Brandberg Rhino Run and Ride, I will be dedicating my participation in the race to continue to raise awareness for Save The Rhino Trust.
After a recent rhino killing in a zoo in Paris, we think the time is opportune for Namibians to inspire the French on how to stand together as a country to join the global fight against the senseless onslaught on our rhino species.
The details of exactly how we will carry our Rhino message over in France is not yet clear, but I’m sure it will fall in place in the next week or so. At this time we are in search of a dynamic, passionate French connection that shares our eagerness to do what we can, with what we have, where we are (or where we are going)!
We will keep you posted! Comments and suggestions are all welcome!