Monday, 26 September 2016
The 2016 Mugie Triathlon
What a wonderful weekend it’s been! The Mugie Triathlon/Duathlon was a tremendous success and fun was had by all.
A huge thank you to everyone that helped to make this event possible:
Netta and Noel for their work keeping the course clear of game and ensuring our safety; Robin and George for their excellent time keeping; Janet for being our nurse on standby; Deb and Rod for their generous donation of money and help organizing; Shanni and the CHAT mobile clinic for coming out to spread community awareness of their services; Graham and Lime Catering for delicious fare and wonderful service all weekend; John, Pete, and Mungo for their photography; Jake and Lissy for their help keeping the duathletes watered and sorting results; Claus and Susannah for kindly donating a shiny, new, motorcycle to the winner of the Duathlon; Josh and Donna for donating a bicycle to the second place finisher of the Duathlon; John and Amanda for donating a goat to the third place finisher; and a heartfelt thank you to Mugie Conservancy for providing such an unbeatable venue for the weekend.
Saturday’s Duathlon for the local community members was a ton of fun. We had twenty entrants from the area, racing for a motorcycle (first prize), a bicycle (second), and a goat (third). We had lots of very enthusiastic local supporters at the finish line along with the CHAT mobile health clinic, there to spread the word about the services that they offer (a wonderful resource of health services for communities around Kenya). James “Mali-Mali” won first prize, a rather life-changing motorcycle.
On Sunday we started the triathlon at 7:30, diving into the smooth water. It was a great swim, 500 meters along the dam, climbing out on the north shore at the transition area. Team members tagging their bicyclists’ outstretched hand so they could start on the 20km bike across the planes, individual racers quickly changing into their bicycle gear and zipped off. Cups of water passed out as numbers and times were noted. After the bike came a 5km run, the sun getting hotter, the runners kept on. The whole race an impressive feat, Johnny Harris finishing first, and claiming the mens’ individual win and then Becky Summers coming in first for the womens’ individual title, and Sophie Grant finishing strong for Team Nomads with Jake Scott (bike) and Lizzie Odegaard (swim). When the adults’ race ended, we had a kids’ race, and it was great fun! With ten kids running 40 meters down the dam wall and then swimming 40 meters from the spit to the shore of the dam. It was wonderful to see the next generation of triathletes as they came through the finish! Kiara Perrett winning first prize, Archer Grant coming second, and a tie for third place with Maia Perrett, Skye Allen, and Tristan Harris. The race was topped off with a yummy curry lunch by Lime Catering, and a lovely afternoon of chatting with friends, family, and neighbors. A fantastic event, and hopefully the first of many! If you missed out on it this year, watch this space for more information about 2017’s Mugie Triathlon.
Congratulations to everyone who completed the Duathlon and Triathlon!
1st James Mali Mali
2nd Nick Kampi ya Moto
3rd John Longor
1st Johnny Harris
2nd Josh Perrett and Murray Grant (tie)
3rd Hamish Randal
1st Becky Summers
2nd Fabby Harris
3rd Sarah Snell
1st The Nomads – Lizzie Odegaard, Jake Scott, Sopie Grant
2nd Speedies – Mariana, Jackson, Kibarra
3rd Loisaba Lions – Cat Jensen, Ivan Jensen, Fiona
Monday, 19 September 2016
We pushed the kayaks off shore at the west end of the dam. Feet squelching in the mud that oozed between my toes, water lapping around my calves flexed for balance. And I hopped into the kayak with practiced grace (relative to my ungainly entrances when I came here, to Ekorian’s Mugie Camp, a few months ago). Assuming my place in the seat at the back of the kayak, I took up my paddle, finding a rhythm and keeping time with my friend sitting in front.
And off we went, a light breeze blowing against us, but making quick progress across the 100 acre, Mugie dam. To the west of us was what we called “Egret Island”, a small bit of land rising out of the water, covered in reeds often decorated with the snowy white of hundreds of Egrets that perched upon them.
We carried on toward the second, much larger, island (known simply as “The Island”). As if put there for entertainment, coming up over the brow of the hill, from the other side of the island, stomped a big bull elephant. He often swam out there, to browse for the lush green grass - it was no small feat, a substantial distance and deep enough that even an elephant can’t reach the bottom. To see him out there never lost it’s magic, but we did hope that he swam back before we went to the island with our picnic.
Leaving the bull in peace, we continued around the island to the south end of the dam. We could see a dust cloud in the distance, and shortly before it arrived at the water’s edge, we had made it to this narrowing estuary where the water overflowed into a stream that ran south through the sanctuary. When the dust cleared, a herd of elephants came into focus before us. Our trusty guides, Joseph and Larabian, without speaking and with a few hand motions, so as not to startle the elephants, directed us down-wind of the herd. We held fast to a tree, it’s braches sticking out of the water to offer an anchor. And we watch as the herd comes down to the water, drinking at first, long trunks reaching below the service to fill with water and then lifting to curl back and pour into open mouths. Grey wrinkled skin becoming brown with the spray that they blow over their dusty backs, a sprinkler of the best sort.
The calves get a free pass down to the front of the herd, pushing their way into the water to cool off and flee the hot sun, with the confidence of a baby that knows it is beloved by it’s protective herd of giants. We watch as the calves, with an overestimation of their swimming abilities, march into the water, splashing and causing a great ruckus as they attempt to swim. And then the mothers come to help, their tails grabbed by their calves for balance and to help them stay afloat. With an undeniable playfulness, they all start to splash and push each other, spray one another, and dunk down into the water, letting the coolness wash over them. They wrestle and play until every hot and wrinkled back has been cooled, the dust washed away, and thirst sated. And then they start their slow procession out of the water, two youngsters straggling behind as they roughhouse until the last possible moment, the cloud of dust following the herd as they move away.
Exchanging looks and ‘wow’s with one another, more words than that are inconceivable at the moment, we paddle back to the main island. The bull elephant has left, swimming for shore, his trunk held above the water like a snorkel as his head bobs below the surface. Pulling kayaks up, we clamber out onto the bank and up to the top where we set out a delicious picnic in the shade. A truly magical experience that we all take great joy in reliving over our meat pies.
Saturday, 10 September 2016
My eyes flashed open and I bolted upright – yanked out of a deep sleep by a loud crash of bushes outside my window. The crash turned to what sounded like thrashing against the bushes and rocks outside and there were grunting sounds and the chomping and tearing of flesh. So what I initially thought was a buffalo crashing around inside the fence, a bit like a bull in a china shop, I decided must be more! In hindsight, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to peer out the window and have a look, but instead, I snuggled back down into the cozy comfort of my bed and fell back asleep.
Waking up, I recalled the night’s interruption like a dream – vaguely remembering the fuzzy details. But just outside my little house I came face to face with the remains of some type of gazelle. It looked like the scene of a bloody murder, the rocks splattered and blood soaked soil on the path, a few abandoned intestines strewn here and there, and the grassy contents of the stomach in a fermented heap. I stood, taking it all in, a bit like Inspector Clouseau, I surveyed the crime-scene and the clues and I drew conclusions about what I thought had happened.
When Josh, Donna, Mungo, and I all met at The Mess Tent our different theories and all the clues, and were all condensed into one. Judging by the sound that was made and the mess, my idea that it had been a leopard was overruled by Josh’s suspicion that it was actually a lion. And looking at what was left of the prey, we all agreed that it looked to be an impala. So, our final theory: A single lion taking down an impala – right outside my window!
Written By Lizzie
3 September 2016
It’s great to be back at Ekorian’s Mugie Camp! Everything is looking so lush and green and full of life. And the animals seem to be taking advantage of the abundance of food as there are zebra foals and buffalo calves on the ground – so sweet!
We’re is the midst of planning the Mugie Triathlon – it’s crunch time and we’re figuring out the logistics of transition areas, water stops, confirming race entries, and finalizing the route. It should be a very fun event and a great adventure with team and individual races of 500-meter swim across the Mugie Dam, 20km mountain bike and 5k run across the open planes (there is still space to register) and a short kids’ race.
Last night as we were driving sections of the bike route we had the most magical encounter with a herd of elephants. A beautiful ruby red, magenta pink, and sherbet orange sunset sends streaks of light across the western horizon as we drive up on the elephants – a herd of mothers and calves and one young male. We turn off the engine and sit motionless, not wanting to alarm them, as they wander closer, munching on the chest high acacia trees. Their trunks wrapping around each thorny branch and tucking it back into their mouths, moving slowly and methodically but with each step hinting at a profound and unwavering strength. The young male abandons his evening meal and approaches us to investigate. He draws closer, almost too close for comfort, and raises his trunk high in the air to get a good whiff. He steps within a few meters of the car, we stay stock-still, mesmerized by this massive animal emanating such power and yet examining us with such peacefulness. With no show of threat or aggression, just motivated by curiosity, decides we’re not a threat, and goes back to his acacia. It feels like a warm-welcome back to Mugie, such a special ‘greeting’ by my favorite animal. I couldn’t be happier to be back here in such a wonderful corner of the world.
Written by Lizzie