Hog Charge 28 Sep 2010
The Hog Charge was the brainchild of Andrew Coates from Peponi School, Trevor Cussans from Kenton College, Ian Mayo and Mark Tilbury. The basis of the idea was to raise funds for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust, a charity engaged in building a game-fence around the Aberdares National Park. This Park contains the sources of most of the major rivers in Kenya and hence it is vitally important to the water supply of much of the population. The fence has the additional benefits of preserving the wildlife and trees within the park and of keeping the wildlife out of the farms bordering the Aberdares – a boost to smallholder farmers and to both the tourism and agricultural industries. It is critical to the future of the country that the Park is safeguarded.
To raise funds for this fence it was decided to hold a mountain bike event and base it loosely on the annual 4 × 4 vehicle Rhino Charge. The event was aimed at school children to get them actively involved in Conservation fund raising and in so doing, they would learn about the efforts to conserve the Aberdares, how to inter-react with sponsors, learn team work and also give them a Challenge when they took part in the event.
The first Hog Charge was held in 1999 and was thus Kenya’s first mountain bike competition. It remains the only such competition for school-children.
In the first ten years, the Hog Charge raised over KShs 15 million for the Rhino Ark.
In 2008, the 10th Anniversary Year, 84 teams competed in the event and raised just under 2.8 million shillings.
In 2009, 97 teams raised the magnificent total of KShs 3.25 million, making it the most successful Hog Charge ever despite the gloomy global economic climate.
How does it work?
The Hog Charge is a team competition. Teams consist of four riders and may enter in either the Under-12, Under-14 or Open classes, and as either all male, all female or mixed teams. In order to enter, teams must raise a minimum of KShs 20,000 in sponsorship; but many raise considerably more and there are trophies for the teams that raise the highest sponsorship and second highest sponsorship.
There are eleven checkpoints on the course. Teams start at their designated checkpoint and must navigate to all the other ten before returning, to finish, at their starting point. Teams are timed between the checkpoints and the team with the shortest aggregate time wins. The event lasts for three hours and in that time, Open & Under-14 teams may have to cover 20kms across rough country! The younger teams have a shorter route. Teams may rest and repair their bicycles for up to 20 minutes at each control.
There is also a “Gauntlet” section which provides extra fun for the Competitors and Spectators alike. Trophies are awarded to the fastest Team in each Class on the event and through the gauntlet.
All Hog Charge money is channelled to the Rhino Ark via the Rhino Charge. The money acts as sponsorship in that event for the Hog Charge Team Car; Car 35, driven by Mark Tilbury. Thus, children who are otherwise too young, can play a part, if indirectly, in a prestigious international competition which raises money for a worthy Conservation cause. In 2009, the Hog Charge Team were awarded the 2nd. Highest Sponsorship trophy at the Rhino Charge after donating KSH. 3,316,397.00. For every KShs 2,000 collected in sponsorship, Hog Charge teams are given a ticket in the Rhino Charge Raffle where they may win some of the hundreds of fantastic prizes. In recent years, Hog Charge teams have won air tickets to Rome and Bangkok, and holidays around Kenya and further afield amongst many other prizes. In 2009, 12 prizes were won by Hog Charge Teams. www.rhinoark.org/HogCharge/HC09.htm