In true Rhino Africa tradition, we are always on the move. And it was no different for eight members of the Crash who set off to take on the challenge of the Extra Mile trail run taking place in Huntingdon Village, bordering the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park.
What is the Extra Mile Trail Run?
The Extra Mile – a Trail Run with Heart – is an annual More Community Trust fundraising initiative. It launched in 2018 with the purpose of providing sustainable support to people in rural communities coupled with the conservation of endangered species. One of Rhino Africa’s key Impact Partners, the Good Work Foundation, is an integral part of driving sustainable change to the local community, and has been a longstanding partner of the event.
How Does The Extra Mile Work?
The Trail Run itself, which traditionally follows its course through the villages of the Bushbuckridge community and their rangelands bordering the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, was conceptualised to raise awareness of the poverty here, and to raise funds to respond to the urgent need for basic services. The event has grown and developed into a special day where local people and businesses, visitors, stakeholders and their families come together to connect and go the extra mile for each other to ultimately grow a stronger community.
More Than Just A Trail Run
The goal of The Extra Mile is threefold:
1) To raise awareness of the community’s critical needs, and the need for support from local NPOs and lodges;
2) To raise awareness of the importance of preserving our natural heritage, and bridging the gap between community and conservation;
3) To raise funds for sustainable, environmentally friendly development in these impoverished villages.
With the support of the beneficiaries and the organisers alike, the people of the local communities have great determination to better their own lives. This has encouraged them to truly embrace the event and be fully involved in The Extra Mile, both as participants and assistants. This year, over 550 runners from the community were sponsored to participate in the run. In addition, more than 150 community members were hired to help with set up, marshalling, security and clean-up. Even those that are not directly involved found a way to help – running to fetch a tired runner some water, and giving a runner who couldn’t go any further a lift – the run is an endless source of heart-warming stories. The communities that this event serves are just as open-handed, and despite their circumstances, show a generosity of spirit that is extraordinary and humbling.
Our Extra Mile Experience
Having returned from participating in the Extra Mile trail run a little over a week ago, I cannot help but smile when looking back on it. I have been fortunate enough to have participated in a wide variety of running events all over South Africa and I can honestly say that none have touched my heart in the same way as this one. Throughout the route there were smiling faces, encouraging words and a choice of hugs or high fives from members of the local community. Even the most tired legs don’t stop running when encouraged by a group of children who cheer your every step! A common theme among my colleagues and I as we reflected on was just how embraced we felt as we ran through Huntingdon Village.
"Seeing people from all walks of life come together for a single cause – to contribute towards the community and conservation was truly inspiring. The route was hard and the temperature hot, but these challenges made finishing even more rewarding." – Michelle Welvering
"Throughout the event there was such an overwhelming sense of team and community spirit. I had goosebumps when running across the finish line with my fellow Rhinos. It was such an amazing experience that I feel very lucky to have been a part of." – Justine Ryan
Go The Extra Mile in 2023!
So, to the community of Huntingdon, thank you for a priceless memory that I will always treasure. Another big thank you goes to the wonderful Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge that hosted us. To the More Community Foundation and the organisers, thank you for an amazing event – and we can’t wait to be back again next year. And to those of you who don’t mind a bit of a trot, save the date for next year. I’ll see you at the start line on 23 September 2023!
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