With ideal weather, plenty of game sighting and two days of unique trail running, the inaugural STIHL Imfolozi Outrun trail run met its main aim of fundraising for the park, and started demand for entries for the next edition of the event.
R320 000 was raised by the 300 participants in the event, which will be spent on the Imfolozi Ranger Upliftment Project and the Imfolozi Community Upliftment and Education Project run by the park.
The first involves the upgrade of the facilities and equipment available in the satellite camps used by the rangers while on anti-poaching duty in the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi park, while the latter supports the education and skills development programmes being run for the communities that live on the outskirts of the park.
With the spring weather playing its part, the sell-out field of runners were treated to two days of truly unique trail running along the original rhino paths through the park, which is only game park that has always been home to white rhino.
Also spotted by runners over the two days and 32 kilometres through the oldest game park in South Africa the runners spotted buffalo, rhino, zebra, nyala, kudu, lion and giraffe.
At the end of the first stage as the trail runners were heading back to the race base camp, they had to wait while the vigilant park rangers escorted a huge herd of elephant, including elephant calves, safely across the road being used by the runners.
At the Saturday evening sundowner session at the Imfolozi Airstrip a section ranger documented the history of the first proclaimed nature reserve in the country, outlined the challenges facing the park in terms of modern conservation thinking, and thanked the runners and supporters for their contributions.
The event organisers are already under pressure to start taking entries for next year’s event. They have confirmed that number will remain strictly capped at 300 runners and that participants in the inaugural edition will get the first opportunity to apply for 2020 entries.
Photo 1 Caption: Trail runners pass the bones of a poached rhino during the inaugural STIHL Imfolozi Outrun. Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media
With editing by gsport