Greetings Great Runners!
Are we on again? We are on again!
Welcome back from lockdown, friends. What a year this is turning out to be, right? RIGHT?
Also, welcome to The Great Run XVII, an event that has been long overdue because of circumstances that are both obvious and unavoidable.
Welcome to the Great Run XVII Phoenix Edition: Serenity & Serendipity. Perhaps we should explain the long name.
Why Phoenix Edition? First of all mankind is slowly arising from the ashes after the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease almost brought a complete stop to civilization as we know it. We are only just recovering while adapting to the new normal. We are back as a species, and like the phoenix, we will rise again. Secondly, keen followers of the Great Run will recall we had an... er... shall we say "adjustment" to the management of the Great Run, an adjustment that we have arisen from, again, just like the legendary firebird.
Serenity & Serendipity: serenity means peace and quiet. While the typical Great Run convoy does not quite spell "quiet", the route we will follow most certainly does; there are sights to behold we can bet very few of us have seen before; beautiful scenery that the Creator took His Time with. Serenity is also a much needed respite from the frustration that comes with change of management. Serendipity is befalling upon good fortune out of sheer happenstance, both from the events that arose earlier this year and something that happened during the recce in which our hostess for the evening turned out to be involved in the exact same line of philanthropy as The Great Run: she is involved in the assistance of desperately destitute children and has a whole list of children's homes we can visit.
So, speaking of quiet routes and children's homes, let's get down to business. The following are the event details as planned. It is a two-day event which will cover about 600km of mixed driving:
DATES:December 5th - 6th
Day 1 will take us from Nairobi to Ngong after which we will venture into the road that runs parallel to the Standard Gauge Railway through Kimuka and Kibiko, leading us to Suswa on the Mai Mahiu - Narok highway. This is the first off-road section of our journey.
From Suswa we will head to Narok where we will turn right in Narok Town to head towards Olenguruone but we will not venture too far down that road. Somewhere at a place called Olokurto we will turn left to venture into the Mau Forest which is the toughest, most rugged off-road section the Great Run has ever done, which will struggle with to exit at Enengeetia and Analat where we will hit tarmac again to drive to Njoro and eventually into Nakuru town.
The children's home we will visit is in Nakuru, which is also where we will spend the night. Given that this is the year of the ccoronavirus, we will do things a little differently from before due to rules surrounding large gatherings and social distancing. The protocols will be communicated in due course.
Day 2: meet up at Shell Petrol Station at the Bahati - Subukia - Nyahururu junction. We will proceed up the A104 up to Naivasha where we will turn left at the Total Petrol Station and indulge in one of the steepest hill-climbs the Great Run has ever had. Yes, we will be retracing the route from the Great Run 6 that led us into the Aberdares - which will be the third off-road section of this event; power through the park to come out in Nyeri town and from there it's back to Nairobi.
There are a lot of details we will need to get right for this route so this time round we have a detailed map that will be given to Great Runners between now and December.
The entry fee has not changed, it is still KES 6000. Unlike before, this time the cash is paid via Buy Goods option from the M-Pesa menu to
NAME: MOTORING PRESS AGENCY
TILL NUMBER: 5151021
Please note: this is a TILL NUMBER (Buy Goods) and NOT a Pay Bill number. After payment, Great Runners will be added to a WhatsApp group where we will handle any questions you may have as well as provide further updates involving details that may not be posted on Facebook.
Right, let's get started then. Get your rigs ready, dust off your travelling shoes, flex your leg muscles and prepare for a drive that you will not soon forget. After several months that felt like many years of isolations, lockdowns, quarantines, curfews and other words rarely used before 2020, it's time to step out and feel the outside world again... but responsibly because we are not out of the woods yet as far as COVID-19 is concerned.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Great Run presents Serenity & Serendipity by way of the phoenix.
ALEA JACTA EST
UPDATE: THE TARMAC ROUTE VERSUS PUBLIC DEMAND
This being a December event, as per Great Run tradition we went for a rather demanding off-road route, like we do. Just to reiterate, this is what we are looking at:
Day 1: Nairobi Karen - Ngong - Suswa - Narok - Mau Forest - Njoro - Nakuru
Day 2: Nakuru - Gilgil - Naivasha - Aberdares - Nyeri - Sagana - Nairobi.
The off-road sections are the Ngong - Suswa stretch, Mau Forest and Aberdares, and if the rains hold up then things will get very interesting. Of particular note is t make sure your 4WD system and your tyres are in good nick. Traction will be sought but may not always be there.
At No. 17, this is an odd-numbered Great Run, which traditionally has always been tarmac. Secondly, there has been feedback from fans and followers, mostly along the lines of "We had no tarmac event in 2020 (for obvious reasons) and the 4X4-specific gig is locking some of us out of the philanthropy and fun"
We do not like to disappoint here at the Great Run, and it behooves us to be more circumspect with limitations when the need to do good arises in our membership. It therefore follows that there are additions to the Great Run XVII Phoenix Edition: Serenity & Serendipity.
Allow us to introduce the tarmac option of this event.
Yes, you may not need a rig to do the event after all (but for maximum adventure you really do want to do the off-road part). We have a route that smaller or lesser-equipped cars can follow without feeling left out or excluded. This is the route:
The convoy will split up at Shell Karen. As the 4x4s head to Ngong and on to Suswa, the smaller vehicles will instead join the Southern Bypass from Karen and head to Thogoto then turn turn left into the Gikambura - Ndeiya road. This road goes on to join the Limuru - Mai Mahiu road, which the cars will take to Mai Mahiu, turn left and head towards Narok.
There is a specific point where this convoy will stop, and that is at the SGR crossing just outside Suswa. Here, the tarmac cars will wait for the off-roaders to emerge from the dusty (or muddy) wilderness on the left and the entire Great Run XVII convoy will once again be as one.
We will all drive together down to Narok town where we will turn right and start heading towards Mau Forest. Some kilometers into this road (landmark: giant silos on the left), the off-road group will exit the tarmac to the left and enter a rough road that will take us through the forest and some of the most beautiful views we have seen thus far. The smaller vehicles will stay on the tarmac and keep going where eventually they will reach Njoro town. Njoro town should provide a good pit stop for them as they again wait for the bundu-bashing lot to emerge from the forest
[DISCLAIMER: THIS MAY TAKE A WHILE]
We will all reconvene at Njoro before driving into Nakuru town as a solid unit, where county officials will be expecting us. Just like the "Great Run VII: In Memory of Amir Mohamed" in Eldoret, expect a warm welcome from the authorities, but they do insist: could we please adhere to anti-Covid protocols please? Yes we could, and we shall. We have masks and sanitizers in the goodie bags for that, so Great Runners are covered as far as that is concerned.
The night will be spent in Nakuru town. The addresses will be provided in a subsequent update.
* * * * * *
We all gather at Shell Petrol Station at the Bahati - Subukia Junction for that morning's briefing. We all leave together and join the A104 towards Nairobi. At Gilgil, we split up again.
The tarmac cars will enter Gilgil town and head on towards Ol Kalou and Nyahururu then Mweiga and on to Nyeri town. The off-road cars will continue on to Naivasha, turn left at the Total junction outside Naivasha town and head on into the Aberdares to emerge at Nyeri where we will all link up again for the last time. There will be no more splitting up after this.
It is not exactly clear who will reach Nyeri first since the off-roaders have a challenging route to Nyeri while the soft-roaders have a long one. Anyway, it is not a race and the management of the Great Run has systems in place to ensure the two lots are in constant communication with each other. Whoever gets there first simply waits for the other.
From Nyeri, we will all drive back to Nairobi together.
* * * * * *
So there you have it. A Great Run Two-In-One (this event has so many names, but 2020 is not exactly a normal year now, is it?). To cater for our tarmac-loving friends, we have opened up 20 more slots just for them, so if you are one such, then register pronto by sending KES 6000 to Till Number (Buy Goods) 5151021 and await your goodies which will soon be ready.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Great Runners, start your engines. This will be a big one...
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The Purity of Purpose