Two teams, one comprising nine African Parks managers, and the other, a dedicated team of six runners from Zakouma National Park in Chad, are to participate in the punishing 2015 Le Treg Ultra-Marathon.
The marathon is run in the beautiful, but unforgiving terrain of the Ennedi Plateau located in north-east Chad, in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The aim of the two teams is to demonstrate African Parks’ commitment to the Chadian Government in establishing Ennedi as a national park and to raise awareness and funds for anti-poaching initiatives at all the parks managed by the organisation.
A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ennedi is famous for its towering rock arches and quivering, yellow sands. Temperatures in this unique ecological site rise to 35˚C during the day in February, the month of the race, but drop to 13˚C at night, making a nocturnal race strategy a focus for some entrants. The course is devoid of roads or tracks and participants have to fend largely for themselves. As water points are only located every 20 to 30 kilometres, runners need to carry their own water supplies as well as food.
The African Parks management team of nine runners is to compete in the non-stop, 90km Half Treg course and funds raised for their efforts through crowd-funding sites will be used to protect and save elephants and rhinos as well as other species, and the prevention of the illegal extraction of natural resources. Two crowd-funding sites have been set up for members of the public to donate to measures being implemented by African Parks in Liuwa Plain National Park and Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Akagera National Park in Rwanda, Zakouma National Park in Chad, Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Congo and Garamba National Park in the DRC.
The team of six runners from Zakouma National Park in Chad – five game scouts and their intrepid leader – will also be participating in the non-stop, 90km version of Le Treg. Their aim is to honour the memory of the six Zakouma scouts killed in an ambush by Sudanese poachers in 2012 and to send a message of encouragement to all rangers involved in fighting poachers across Africa. Zakouma National Park is managed by African Parks through a public private partnership with the Chadian Government. Donors interested in contributing to their initiative can do so at their dedicated page on the crowd-funding site: GoFundMe
Entrants are permitted 30 hours to run the non-stop 90km course that starts at 7am on 6 February 2015. A total of 29 runners are expected to participate in the 2015 Le Treg event. In addition to the 90km course, the race also offers a 180km and a 45km option. It is a condition of entry that all runners undergo a full medical examination prior to the race and a doctor is on site to deal with medical crises. In addition, all entrants are issued with satellite tags in order that they can be tracked and located in the event of an emergency.
“We are committed to supporting the Chadian Government in establishing and restoring the biodiversity of Ennedi and anticipate concluding a memorandum of understanding with them on the project,” says African Parks CEO, Peter Fearnhead. “Our participation in Le Treg is a symbolic demonstration of our intent to fulfil that undertaking.”
Read more on Zakouma National Park in: Beyond the Infinity Pool