And how different a Rhino Charge was that?!

It’s been just over a week since the last of the Officials left Ol Ongaianiet and two weeks since Charge day. Last week the Organising Committee met for a 9-hour de-brief meeting covering every aspect of the organization of the 2016 event and to start planning for 2017. We discussed countless items from the various debrief reports and comments including search & rescue, results generation, safety of entrants and the waste sorting station. No doubt 2017 will move towards being an even more professional event – we are gaining popularity at a scary rate and managing it gets easier and harder all at the same time as the years go by.

We discovered that on Charge day, #RhinoCharge was in the top 10 trending topics globally on Twitter. That’s quite a feat when you think of what other topics have been trending globally at times!

For many people Rhino Charge is a fun weekend out in the bush, with the purpose of fund-raising. For many committed volunteers, it’s up to 12 days in the bush to prepare the venue, run the event and then close it down. I feel privileged to have worked with these experts and seen them in their element over the course of the last six months, but especially during the build up to the event and then during the anti-climax of closing the project.

Have a look at the table that gives a summary of what is planned for each day. It doesn’t ever go as per plan!

As you can see there’s a lot that goes on at the venue. The coordination of approximately 150 officials and volunteers, ensuring local community adheres to the agreement and plans, managing sponsors, early starts and late nights. Add to that the unknowns of having to recover vehicles at odd hours and the unpredictable weather especially for this year. And then picking litter after it’s all done, because that’s our commitment to the community and the environment – to leave it as clean as we found it. There’s a ridiculous amount of preparation that happens to help us raise US$1.4m and counting…!

Over the last two years and since we re-introduced the paid ticket per person we have a better control over our waste management and the pressure that puts on the local community’s land. The volunteers who spend 12 days now, used to spend up to 14 days – the additional 2 days dedicated to collecting litter. We have come far from the over one thousand spectators who would arrive drunk, leave drunk and have only photos to tell the story. Alcohol consumption at the Gauntlet has been reduced with a strict no vending of alcohol – two vehicles were escorted off the venue this year for illegally selling beer – and the direct correlation of that is a more pleasant spectator area with noticeably more children. These are the same children who will in a few years become ‘Chargers’ as they enjoy the experience now and become part of a successful and sustainable fund-raising event well into the future.

See you in Lamu next year… or Magadi…!

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