The Great Run XVI

Greetings Great Runners,

The excitement of the Great Runners is palpable, demands for bookings are overwhelming already, and we just cant wait to get going on this road trip.

Day 1:
Nairobi - Nanyuki - Isiolo - Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Day 2:
Buffalo Springs National Reserve - Wamba - Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Day 3:
Buffalo Springs National Reserve - Nairobi

We are mighty pleased to announce the special accomodation rates for ya'll in our first update below:


Samburu Simba Lodge, Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Single : Kes.9,188/-
Double : Kes. 12,688/-
Triple: kes. 19,032/-

Child below 3 yrs free.
Age 3 - 12 yrs : @3,625/- if sharing a room.
@ 7,875/- if in own room.

Above rates on full board.

For bookings, contact Ritesh Patel on:
Email : [email protected]
Whatsapp: +254 722 478897

Mode of payment will be through Mpesa via Paybill Number 823288. Account number will be the name under which the booking will be done. Please send the Mpesa confirmations via whatsapp to the number indicated above.

Remember to quote THE GREAT RUN when doing your bookings to enjoy the preferential rates.

For die hard campers, we have something for you too.
Camping fee is kes.500/- per person. Contact person : Mohamed 0724-694705. We would recommend you pool yourselves together and have one representative making camping arrangements with Mohamed, who will assist you.

So there you have it.

A quick reminder for those yet to register, send in your kes.6000/- registration fee via Mpesa to SHELINA MOHAMED on 0794 585 123.

Until the next update.
Regards, The Great Run.


Welcome to one of the most unusual updates you have ever seen, but nothing we have not done before. You may need to take a seat for this one because it is... heavy.

Over the years The Great Run has established itself as the bastion of blending exploration and charity while providing a test of mettle for the participants; a test involving technical driving or endurance, or in some cases both.

It therefore followed that some felt a little unchallenged by the latest route set for The Great Run XVI, citing distance and difficulty (or the lack thereof) and being a little un-Great Run-like. Well, who are we if not risers to the occasion? The Great Run has directors and organizers who listen, and we listened which is why one of the organizing entities, the Motoring Press Agency, sent a team out to remedy the situation; and what this team found is... nothing short of epic. Y'all wanted a challenge? Y'all got one now!


Fresh off the recce of the extension and the following are the details that will determine the Chalbi Challenge:


Nairobi - Nanyuki - Isiolo - Wamba - Laisamis - Marsabit - Kargi - Loiyangalani - Laisamis - Isiolo - Nanyuki - Nairobi



Since this is an extension of The Great Run XVI it will follow the same schedule as The Great Run XVI which means
- Day 1 (Nov. 29 2019): will see the convoy drive from Nairobi to Isiolo and on to Buffalo Springs according to the Great Run XVI schedule, then
- Day 2 (Nov 30 2019): have the convoy drive to the children's home in Wamba. Once we are done with the activities at the children's home this is where the Extension application kicks in (L_Turkana.exe, anyone?) and the schedule is adjusted for the brave who dare venture further north.
After dabbling in philanthropy, the Chalbi Challenge begins in earnest because we will then drive northwards all the way up to Marsabit, which is 258km from Isiolo. It is smooth tarmac all the way, but it will be done late in the day so there is a high probability of arriving in Marsabit after dark.
- Day 3 (Dec 1 2019): leave Marsabit early and head towards Loiyangalani via a small town (it is more of a camp than a town, really) called Kargi. This section is purely off-road and covers 233km which short as it may sound, will take an entire day. The roads are E672 + C77.
- Day 4 (Dec 2 2019): this will be the most taxing day of the trip. Leave Loiyangalani and follow route C77 that we followed in. Then turn back onto the E672 but only for a short distance where we join the D371 and on to Laisamis via Ngurunit and Namarei. Again this is 100% off-road driving, over a distance of 232km. From Laisamis it is hard powering all the way back to Nairobi which is quite a distance but your bones will be thankful that it is all tarmac again after a grueling 465km of hardcore off-road maneuvers.

The total distance for this trip is 1500km. Nairobi - Isiolo - Marsabit - Kargi - Loiyangalani is 850km. Loiyangalani - Laisamis - Isiolo - Nairobi is 650km.


You will need a car in EXCELLENT roadworthy condition, and we cannot insist enough on the EXCELLENT part. Once you enter the Chalbi desert, all traces of civilization disappear, including the human aspect and of course mobile phone networks. You will be lucky to even spot a villager, let alone an entire village.


which is why we double and triple insist: ENSURE YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. Of particular importance are the suspension (springs and shocks), the brakes (calipers, pads and brake lines), the tyres (get chunky and durable off-road tyres) and the engine. Install new belts and hoses, check your wiring, check your fluids, check your pulleys, check EVERYTHING.


This is neither the place nor the time for brand comparisons; but the vehicle in question above will be better off the simpler it is. There is a very good reason why the dominant brand around that area is Toyota and the prevalent model is the 70 Series Landcruiser in its various shapes and forms: pickup, wagon, troop carrier etc. That is because the vehicle is hard as rocks, and rocks are what we will be driving over, around and through. You will need the toughest, most rugged car you can get your hands on which means steer clear of vehicles chock full of electronics, millions of sensors and air suspension. The heat, the dust and the constant rattling will make short work of that fancy technology before you are even halfway into the desert, and remember:


Spare parts: even the most hardened cars with the best reliability scores still get caught out once in a while. Carry spares with you on this trip. A spare tyre is an obvious requirement; carry two if you have the space. Carry replaceable fluids such as coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid in case a need for them arises. Carry a spare serpentine belt as well, what they call a fan belt. They are known to snap.

Water & fluids: carry plenty of water with you in the car. The heat is oppressive and it is shockingly easy to get dehydrated unknowingly owing to the amount of sweat you will be losing. Those who do energy drinks can bring them along but don't overindulge. Isotonic drinks like flavored water we found to be a great additive to the drinks menu and kept us charged all through. The kind of charging we do not recommend is the alcoholic type. You are free to enjoy your tipple (PROVIDED YOU ARE NOT DRIVING), but you will suffer for it if you lose yourself in the stupor. We repeat: the heat and the constant pounding will make you sick if you take a bit too much alcohol, so for your own good, save the celebratory drinks for the end of the day.

Recommended fluids: 2 liters of water per person per day. 3 liters if accompanied by alcohol and/or energy drinks

Food & snacks: do not expect the hotel industry to have penetrated the Chalbi Desert. This is quite literally the middle of nowhere. For Day 3 and Day 4, the only meals you will have are breakfast and dinner; nothing in between. Plan yourself accordingly if you are the type that gets peckish quickly or often.

Fuel: having an extra long range tank is a bonus, as is having a diesel-powered vehicle. However, it will be to your benefit to carry some spare fuel with you. A metallic 20-liter fuel can costs about KES 2000 to buy (and interestingly almost the same amount to fill up with petrol). You may need this since the fuel situation in Loiyangalani is not a clear guarantee. We DID find fuel out there but getting it was a convoluted and frustrating process, and the price is hiked (naturally)

Camping equipment: accommodation in Loiyangalani is a bit thin and will also be in use by people who have been brought there on other business outside of The Great Run v16.1. So get ready to rough it out in your tent

Personal effects: sunscreen is a must, as is a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses are recommended. You will be wise to invest in light but absorbent clothing


Yes we know so far we have made the extension level event sound like a punishment, but really, it isn't. Those with a spirit for adventure will love it, and there are a few things you may want to see once you are in that part of the country. Some of the sights:

- The Great North Road: Isiolo and Moyale are connected by one of the best roads you will ever drive on in this country that are not the Southern Bypass in Nairobi

- Marsabit National Park

- The Chalbi Desert: Baraza JM, who headed the recce team into this god-forsaken wilderness, has a story to tell about getting lost in this hell-hole when the trail simply disappeared underfoot leaving them in a thicket, trying to establish bearings using the position of the sun and the course of dry river beds, finding an oasis quite literally in the middle of nowhere and retracing their steps to the point where the trail disappeared while being punked by Google offline maps ("Slide Right, then turn right into this sand-pit dotted with thorn trees and no clear road to follow") and eventually finding the real route which was in the opposite direction to where the initial disappearing road led. It is a narrative you will want to hear.

- Lake Turkana Wind Project: - a massive electricity-generating project of a kind you have never seen before. 385 GIGANTIC windmills spread over 28,000 acres of land; only one word can describe the incredible sight you will behold: MAJESTIC

- Lake Turkana: Despite what you may have heard about this lake, actually seeing it nestled within a blackened and forbidding lava pit is a revelation. it is a wonder how the Turkana people survive in that kind of purgatory.

- The El Molo: sink into deep thought and get a heavy heart as you lay your eyes on a people that are slowly headed towards extinction. Think of them as the Lost Tribes because they are far removed from the rest of the country and soon they will be quite literally lost, for good. It is saddening.

- South Horr and Baragoi: for obvious reasons The Great Run will not venture into these areas, but we will be passing within shouting distance of them. Have a glimpse of the kind of terrain the news are referring to that government forces find themselves in, in their quest to quell insecurity and end cattle-rustling. You ay come across one or two herdsmen wielding assault rifles but these ones have no issues with visitors, the weapons are to safeguard THEM against parties of murderous raiders targeting their livestock. A cleanup process is ongoing which the police assures us has trimmed down the violence into almost nonexistent levels.

Come back with a story to tell because this is one trip that you will not soon forget.


As stated earlier, this is not a separate event. This is still part of The Great Run XVI. No other registration is needed but a head count will be necessary to ensure anybody who goes in also comes back out.

However, it is entirely optional. You do not have to drive up north if you and/or your vehicle are not up to the challenge. You are free to do the simpler Great Run XVI, and you will still get your certificate of Participation and your trophy. If you are curious but don't have the car to tackle the rough, another option is to accompany the adventurers all the way up to Marsabit then stay behind as they venture west into the Chalbi Desert, then drive down to Laisamis and rejoin the pack as they reappear at Laisamis from the Great Darkness to head back to Nairobi as one group.

The route is TOUGH, very tough. 465km of off-road driving is not a joke; that is only 20km shorter than the distance from Nairobi to Mombasa. The heat is oppressive. The dust is thick and fine. The conditions are dire. You will be driving over different surfaces of off-road conditions. There is gravel, there is sand, there is mud, there are rocks and pebbles, there are blind crests leading into sweeping turns, there are steep, rocky hills into and out of Loiyangalani, there will be low grip conditions, there will be treacherous high-speed sections, there will be a lot of things you will face. Only attempt this drive if you actually know what you are doing. This drive encapsulates both technical driving and endurance driving. In light of that it is highly recommended to have another driver in the car. Fatigue will be a clear and present problem.

In light of the point above, there will be a second driver briefing in Marsabit for those entering the Chalbi Desert. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY AS THEY ARE GIVEN. DO NOT TRY TO BE A HERO, YOU MAY NOT LEAVE THAT DESERT.

We consulted both the police and the locals repeatedly and in depth over the two most pressing matters that affect the area we will visit: flash flooding and insecurity; and we were assured and reassured that our particular route is not affected by either. However, The Great Run still reserves the right to adjust or cancel this event extension if that situation changes for the worse even in the slightest bit. Much as we love adventure, we are not in the business of endangering human life.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat"
- Theodore Roosevelt

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Let the challenge begin!!

The Great Run 2019