Yes, ‘epic’ is an over-used word. Yes, everything from money-saving tips to cheeseburgers is described as epic these days, but we’re taking the word back as there is no better descriptor for the last trip around the sun.

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2019 was epic, here at BTU.  Yes, ‘epic’ is an over-used word.  Yes, everything from money-saving tips to cheeseburgers is described as epic these days, but we’re taking the word back as there is no better descriptor for our last trip around the sun.

The best thing about doing these sorts of end-of-year/new year blog posts is that you get to go back over the last 12 months and properly ruminate on what you’ve done.  Sitting and reflecting isn’t always something we have a lot of time for at BTU.  With four multi-stage races already on the calendar (and more in development), our small team tend to be busy, jumping off one intercontinental flight after a race has finished, sleeping for 24-36hrs and then jumping straight into preparing for the next trip.  It’s easy to over-look what you’ve done when you’re galivanting about at high speed.

So here’s a little round-up of what we’ve been upto, and what we’ve got planned.

Let’s start with some numbers.  We’ll start with a big one, how about quarter of a million?  That’s properly big, right?  That, is the amount of money raised by the For Rangers Ultra in Kenya over the last 2 years.  In 2018 we were hugely proud of pulling off what we honestly believe to be one of the best ultra-running events in the world.  In 2019 we made it even bigger.  We’ve increased the field from 50 to 70 runners and the 2020 event sold-out within a couple of days of the ballot opening.

Thanks to the growing success of this race, we’ve managed to raise £147,995 in 2019, all of which goes to our partners at Save the Rhino International and For Rangers.  To learn a little more about where that money goes, you can read the 2019 fundraising update here.

We’ve also, officially added a new Race Director to our growing little team.  The amazing Adam Kimble took the controls for Desert Ultra 2019, and will be a regular feature on our adventures from now on.  Reversing our policy of employing bald people behind the scenes, Adam, his ponytail and his bushy beard, has been a very welcome addition, bringing his immense ultra-running experience to the table.  He is also a serious contender for the most positive man on the planet.  You can learn more about Adam, right here (or here you can watch him perform a Gollum impression good enough to make Andy Serkis worry about his job).

This year, with the help of our partners at Mossy Earth, we have planted another 200 trees, one for each runner who took part in one of our races.  It is an uncomfortable truth of our line of life-style, that those who love to race in wild places add a lot to their carbon foot-print by flying around the world.  We see it as our responsibility to do what we can to offset that.  The 400 trees planted for our runners over the last two years help to make amends.

We’ve worked hard again to remove plastics from our races too.  All trail markers on our desert race have been made by our Namibian team and will be re-used for years to come – our Namib desert posse build things to last.  All markers on the For Rangers race in Kenya and made with chalk and are washed away as soon as the next rains come after the race.  Though plastic marking tape is still used on our Ice and Jungle races, we have reduced what we’re using again.  In 2018 we managed to cover 1000km of trail on our races whilst only purchasing 6km of marking tape.  In 2019 we have replaced 500 of those kilometres with non-plastic markers and have purchased almost no new tape at all, having carefully reused or recycled the rest.

Over 42,000km have been run by our racers.  One thousand marathons have been covered around the world by our runners alone this year and we’re immensely proud of them, not only for the huge efforts they each made to train for their race of choice, but also for the many people they have each inspired to go out and do something healthy themselves.

On the subject of inspiring people to do amazing things, we’ve also finally gotten around to adding some new podcast episodes this year, something which has given us the opportunity to talk to some really interesting people.  Fancy hearing adventurous people talking about epic things they’ve done?  Have a listen right here.  We’ve also got some seriously exciting plans about upcoming episodes throughout 2020.  Keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for announcements.

And whilst we’re on the topic of announcing things.  What does 2020 have in store?  In short.  A lot.  Changes behind the scenes are going to mean we’re able to jump into 2020 ready to step up everything we do already.  That means more podcast episodes, more amazing races, more team-members, more fund-raising.  But there’ll also be some new things too.

Keep an eye out in 2020 for our For Rangers Ultra documentary.  After the success of our Ice Ultra film in 2019 – which was so successful we’ve sold out the race for 2020 and very nearly 2021 already – we decided to give Ryan free-rein behind the scenes to show the world what our Kenyan race is all about.

Watch out for new Strava groups and events as we put some more time into our runners from around the world.  Our races are the last part of a long journey for most runners.  When they start their 230km race they’ll already have covered hundreds miles in training and we’re going to make sure we all get to go on that journey together too, no matter where we are in the world.

We’ll also be announcing something big.  Like, really big.  We want to tell you now, we really do, but you’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer.  Keep an eye on our social media for details over the next few of weeks.

So, 2019 is over and a new decade has begun.  We can’t wait and we hope you’re excited too, because we cannot do what we do without you.  Whether you’re reading this because you ran with us before, or you’re currently stroking your chin and wondering if it’s time to challenge yourself to something truly epic, or a supporter of the sport who enjoys the incredible stories that come out of these races, you are the reason we get to keep doing what we do and we appreciate it.

We hope we get to meet you all somewhere amazing over the next decade.

Happy New Year!

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Will Roberts

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