BARINGO, Kenya, Jul 22 – As many of the “chargers” begin to stream back home and recollect on a weekend gone by, Capital Sports looks back at the first Rhino Charge that was staged over the weekend in Kimalel, Mogotio in Baringo County.
It was flagged of by the area senator Gideon Moi who was flagging off the event for the second time in recent history.
We will look at the highlights that made the event what it was and the success the teams continue to achieve. This would have been the 33rd event since 1989, but the 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid 19.
For many of us, it was more than the Bees that everyone was talking about. It was the teams’ drive to keep going that made the event more entertaining. They were up at the crack of dawn. One driver, a navigator and four runners.
The runners are the team members who scout for the next best available route that the car should drive through. They are allowed to winch backwards or forward and do whatever it takes to get to the points marked out on their GPS.
Car number 42 was having a grand time as they drove up the gauntlet. The crowd at the bottom all had their cameras on the cars coming down the hill trying to catch the best of both. Car number 42’s route was more exciting as it cut right through the bush as car number 33 took a different trajectory.
Car Number 33 got down faster leaving the fans waiting for car number 42 to emerge from behind the bushes. Unfortunately, they hit a tree that had two beehives.
This sent the runners running for safety. William, the driver, was left alone in the car and couldn’t get his door open as the car had lodged itself next to a tree and couldn’t move forward nor backwards. He was forced to dive out through the co-driver’s door and took to the seasonal river that was nearby.
The bees gave chase and took on anyone who dared to stand in their way. William’s team came to his rescue as they attempted to fight off the bees. The cold water washed off the scent of the bee stings and he was rushed to the waiting ambulance where he was tended to and rejoined the team to recover the vehicle.
Interestingly, Asim one of the Rhino Charge committee members said that the teams had been informed of the bee hives in the area prior to the competition, and with that in mind, the hives would not be moved for them.
The event organizers later gave the team three ‘Bee Harvesting Kits’ to go back and recover the vehicle and continue the event.
It is important to note that the whole team is safe, no one was seriously injured during the course of the event.
On the advice of Asim, we visited the medical tent and found a well kitted bush dispensary complete with an ambulance and Medivac helicopter that was to be used in the event in case of an emergency.
While there, one of the fans who had an epileptic attack was being attended to. The care he was given was nothing short of remarkable. He joined us back at the gauntlet later that evening having fully recovered.
The beauty of the Rhino Charge was its remarkable organization. The cars had to be back at the event HQ by around 5:30pm.
For our safety, the Gauntlet was closed at 5:00pm and the fans and teams had the option of heading back to camp or heading to the Tarpo bar for some cold refreshments.
The view was epic and the sun setting behind the hills reminded us exactly how beautiful Kenya is. Baringo had brought out its’ A Game and reminded us yet again why we need to tour our beautiful country.
We mingled with the teams, each talking about the day, how things went, others comparing it to previous years. Excitement filled the air; the teams and their families hugged and celebrated their achievement; finishing one of the worlds hardest off-roading events.
Out of the 65 registered teams, only 44 made it to the starting point and even fewer made it back.
An in the true spirit of the charge, no on was left in the bush. There is always a team who are more than willing to go out and rescue you.
The rain had helped cool the usual hot weather in Mogotio giving us all the perfect experience.
The locals took advantage of the large number of teams, fans and friends of the teams to offer the very best of “Baringo natural honey, ornaments, and much more.”
With the main event over, the tallying of the results was underway.
Bright and early the following morning, we all got together to find out how much had been raised, who had won and how much was raised for the community through the LAF (Land Access Fees).
It was interesting to see despite the effects of Covid 19, the highest fundraiser was Peter Kinyua (Car 23) who secured Sh36,243,250. He beat his own record in 2019 (the last Rhino Charge where he raised Sh23mn) by securing the highest ever figure raised by an individual competitor in one year since the Rhino Charge was established in 1989.
In second and third positions were Adil Khawaja of Car 44 (AK44) with KES 21,361,001 and Stanley Kinyanjui of Car 62 (Magnate Chargers) with KES 11,713,500. In total, Kshs. 140,537 909.81 was raised at the event.
All these funds will be invested back in the conservation of Kenya’s water towers and fencing projects around Aberdares, Mt Kenya, Mau Eburu, South Western Mau and Kakamega Forest where Rhino Ark is committed to.
As for the event; the Bundu Fundis of Sean, Patrick and Kieran Avery took pole position having covered 37.43km between all 13 guard posts.
They were closely followed by Team Huzi of Jeremy Holley who covered all thirteen guard posts in 37.92km. Team 48 of Mark Glen finished in third position having covered all thirteen guard posts in 39.12km. Seasoned veteran Ian Duncan came 10th having covered 45km.
There was a small group of unmodified vehicles that deserve all the accolades. Led by John Bowden who covered all thirteen guard posts in 47.83km, the Danish Kifarus of Ole Vestergaurd Johansen did 58.71km and the lovely Bush Babes, Petra Somen led the all-girls team round the 13 Guard posts in 60.97km.
The Rhino Charge remains true to the cause it took on in 1989 when Ken Kuhle asked rally enthusiast Rob Combes whether he would organize a motorsport event to help raise funds for the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust.
The result is the event that we all look forward to. If history serves us right, we should be doing it all over again on the 1st of June 2022 in an area that will be announced a few days to the event.
The conservation efforts of the Rhino Ark have seen Kenyans fund raise and get involved in tree planting campaigns among other conservation efforts. The fence has kept wild animals out of their farms and there is now harmony with the habitat.
To date Rhino Ark has built over 650 km of electric fences and through the fencing programmes, over 80,000 families are being protected from the dangers of human-wildlife conflicts.
Rhino Ark’s electric fences protect critical mountain forests that are the ‘water towers’ of Kenya. These mountain forests are vital ecosystems that support the country’s economic development and the well-being of most Kenyans.
More details on the activities of the Rhino Ark over the years can be found on the Rhino Ark website. While you are there, drop a few coins and do your part in supporting the activities of the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust.