December 6 marked the end of our third successful year of motoring campaigns with a charitable bent as we staged a pretty remarkable Great Run.
The Great Run is always a challenge, or rather, is supposed to be. This time round we thought we had a real doozy of a run, one that would test skill rather than endurance. You had to be at one with your fully-fledged 4WD car to make it, and a 4WD it had to be. End-of-year runs are off-road specials.
The path we chose was a little unusual, Nairobi-Nyeri, but not the way you know it.
We went through Naivasha, and then up the escarpment through a little-explored back route that feeds its users directly to one of the gates of the Aberdare National Park.
It is from this gate that things get thick, and by things I mean the muck we had to crawl through.
A stone’s throw from the gate and into the park lurks a mud-hole of the type and consistency that could hide fully grown crocodiles. You need a proper 4WD transmission to plough your way through. You also need horsepower, but most important, you need ground clearance.
Up ahead lay some pools of variable depths, some of which hid large stones that could rip apart even the most solidly put-together undercarriage.
There is a rocky slope that demands the use of a low-range gearbox if one is to go up at all without risking a burnt clutch or slipping tyres.
There are more mud holes, the roads are narrow, twisty and have no run-off areas, what with the thick undergrowth creeping almost over the road itself. It is very easy to lose each other if the vehicles do not stick to tight formation, and it is very easy to lose one’s footing if one does not pay proper attention to one’s driving.
So it was with confidence that we announced that participants this time really do need to bring proper SUVs for the exercise — and then a lady showed up in a Toyota RAV4.
Long story short: not many people had high hopes for her on arrival at the mud hole, or at the end of the line in Nyeri, to which she made it without incident (or pulling shortcuts).
Fellow participants reached one of two conclusions: maybe the course was not tough enough (it actually was), or maybe we tend to seriously underestimate the off-road abilities of Toyota RAV4s (this part is subject to a lot of argument). Inarguably, everybody was impressed with the lady’s spunk.
Having held six discrete drives so far over the course of three years, it is indisputable that the Great Run is growing bigger, with each event, and is here to stay. Expect more interesting things come 2015.