The College was thrilled to welcome back our Running Wild participants this year. With the inaugural event happening last year in support of the College’s four-tiered approach to counter poaching, it was wonderful to be able to look forward to an awesome fundraising event sans the post Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Laughter and fun were the order of the day with a bit of exercise thrown in for good measure!
As with any event, it takes a lot of organising and coordination to make it happen, but even more so when you are facilitating 33 people running through a Big 5 game reserve. But of course, this year we wanted to make it bigger and better than before, incorporating exciting new activities and sharing more initiatives of the SAWC. A highlight for our CEO, Theresa Sowry, who hosted the event.
The weekend-long event began on Friday afternoon, 19 August, with 19 VIP guests arriving from Johannesburg. We are delighted to report this was seven more guests than last year.
Once settled, guests were introduced to the kids from the Coaching Conservation training initiative. A lot of fun and laughter was shared amongst the group as they all joined hands and did a role play of elephant behaviour – kids and adults alike! It was an awesome opportunity to show supporters of the College one of the education for sustainable development primary school programmes that is really making a difference in the local communities of the area.
The afternoon was followed by a delicious venison potjie dinner shared by the guests, staff and a select few students who also participated in the run. It was a stunning evening and everyone relaxed around the flickering flames of the fire with the call of hyenas and fiery necked nightjars in the distance.
Guests were accommodated on the College campus and enjoyed having their tents right on the fence line. This meant they could relish an early morning sunrise and view a peaceful herd of impala resting in the shade of a Marula, right from their verandas.
Saturday was the main event with an option to run or walk 10km or run a standard half marathon of 21km’s. Despite the chilly wind at the start, there were high spirits with everyone eager to get going. For the runners themselves and especially the VIPs, who came from Johannesburg, what more could you ask for? A beautiful run through the African bush with impala, zebra and giraffe feeding in the open grasslands around you, not forgetting the surprise sighting of an elephant and its new-born calf.
In order for the event to be safe and controlled, the Kruger National Park’s section ranger, Greg Bond, and his team of field rangers along with our own Protected Area Integrity unit patrolled the area and safeguarded the runners for the entire time they were out in the bush. Our own staff also helped by handing out water at designated water points along the route and cheering on the runners. Thanks to all involved, everyone enjoyed their run.
After all the runners had finished, a beautiful brunch was served under the shade of the big Marula tree on our campus. Everyone enjoyed time together, chatting and celebrating the day. While relaxing after a hearty meal, a raffle was held. This year, the sale of raffle tickets was phenomenal and allowed us to not only reach our target of R100 000 but exceed it! One of the prizes offered this year was a first for the college. We had two guests participate in the K9 demonstration, one playing the role of the “poacher” and the other a “handler”. It was so well received and everyone had a lot of fun watching the demonstration take place out in the field.
In the afternoon guests were treated to a classic game drive out in the bushveld followed by an incredible dinner set out in the bush. It was a perfect evening and guests relaxed with a glass of bubbles as the sun descended and the stars came out. The highlight of the evening was an unexpected and uninvited guest – a hyena!
Sunday morning began with the option of either a bush walk or game drive, followed by a lovely brunch, prepared by our amazing hospitality team, before guests started to make their way home.
A massive thank you to all our supporters who have already started chatting about the next one. We are looking forward to next year’s event scheduled for 11-13 August 2023!
It goes without saying that without the generosity and goodwill of all our sponsors the weekend would not have been possible. We extend a HUGE thank you to the following donors and supporters of this event: