In January this year, we launched the first edition of the ForRangers Virtual Ultra Marathon. The Virtual Ultra is aimed at supporting wildlife rangers and consequently enhancing rhino conservation. We’ve got people from all corners of the world each running, walking or cycling the 1,245 kilometer course to support rhino rangers on Ol Pejeta.
Heather LeDuc from Canada is one of the 31 participants in the Virtual Ultra. Heather has never visited Ol Pejeta, but being an ardent supporter of our conservation work, learnt about the Virtual Ultra from our monthly newsletter. Her love for wildlife and Africa prompted her to enter the Virtual Ultra, with the aim of improving the welfare of rhino rangers.
She is currently in 4th place in the Marathon, having covered over 1,800 kilometer in 9 months. Even after completing the recommended the1,245 kilometer circuit in 8 months she has continued to bike in support of the courageous men and women working to protect our rhinos. So far Heather has raised US $798 to be donated to the rhino rangers, close to the target of $1,000 needed for marathon participants. Her major fundraising strategies are social media where she posts about rangers and the work they do as well as posts about her biking to support rhino rangers.
Heather’s preferred method of covering the kilometres is biking and her typical routine consists of riding to and from work, a distance of 4 kilometres. After work, she often takes out her dogs out for another bike ride on local wilderness trails. She also tries to do longer mountain bike rides a few times a week. In June, she took part in a 24 hour mountain bike event and rode almost 80 kilometres. Biking the Virtual Ultra Marathon course is a grueling activity and to keep motivated, Heather always repeats the phrase, “for the rangers!” to her husband before she embarks on a ride.
“It's unacceptable to me that some of the world's most incredible animals may go extinct due to humans. Rangers play such a major but underappreciated role in preventing the poaching of elephants and rhino and we need to give them all the resources they need to do their work and to go home to their families when they're done. Together, we can all make a difference,” is Heather’s parting shot to people all around the world.
You can donate to Heather’s Virtual Ultra campaign here and help her realize her goal of improving the welfare of rhino rangers on Ol Pejeta: https://donate.olpejetaconservancy.org/fundraisers/heatherleduc-virtualultramarathon