By Amanoola Khayrattee -February 27, 2019
After “Trail Sampyé” here we go with the second trail of the year. Organised by the Road Trail Association (RTA) in collaboration with the Commission for Sports, the Golden Bat Night Trail (GBNT) aims at vulgarizing the spirit of trail in varying conditions. The trail has been named after the golden bat of Rodrigues which is a unique species in the world.
It will take place on Saturday 2 march on a track of 12 km both for the short and long trails. The kick-off is scheduled at 7.30 pm at Alfred North Coombes Library in Port Mathurin. The organizers are expecting to rally some 500 participants above the age of 18. Equipment such as head torch and t-shirts will be provided to all participants.
Launched for the first time last year to mark the 50th anniversary of independence and 26th republic day, it is now set to be an annual feature, according to Michael Allet, Vice President of the RTA.
“Rodrigues is a step ahead of countries in the region, and even of Mauritius where the Rando Trail Nature (which is the trail organizing body in Mauritius) has been restricting itself only to day trails, although isolated urban night trails have occasionally been organized at the initiative of the private sector, one of which is Indigo Hotel” says Allet. “Night conditions are specific and considerations like visibility, security and temperature will have another impact in contrast with day conditions.”
Preparations are already on. Potential participants are called upon to register themselves at the usual centres as soon as possible so that appropriate provisions can be made well beforehand.
The track is set to pass via Pointe Monnier (by the side of Phoenix Beverages and CEB Generator), Baie aux Huitres Stadium, Fond Baie aux Huitres, Dans du Riz, Jardin Mamzelle, alongside Tombeau Maragon, l’Union, Hauteur Accacia through the Grande Croix hill, Pointe L’Herbe and back to Port Mathurin.
The Vice President of the RTA wants to reassure everybody. “For this specific trail, appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure the visibility of paths and security of trailers. The SMF and Police have kindly accepted to assist and we have enlisted 50 officials (instead of 30 in day conditions) at strategic points. Beacons (reflective materials – balises réfléchissants) have been installed at specific intervals to guide trailers. Also two generators will be installed; one at l’Union and the other around Pointe l’Herbe gardens; and this time a double cab will act as ‘serre-file’.”
A “réco” (reconnaissance) trail was held on Sunday last to get the feel of the track, where some 15 trailers participated. I repeated the “réco” this afternoon (Wednesday 27 February) in solo to get a double feel of what to expect. Far from scaring anybody, I’d advise my fellow trailers to be adequately prepared. I met with a number of toothless dogs, but there were a couple of them that actually showed their teeth in a way to demarcate their territory. I am to understand that arrangements will be made with dog owners to secure their dogs for the occasion.
We will be in the last quarter of the moon phase, which means it will be a dark night. The major part of the track is on track roads. A small bit of it is on grass, but there are considerable lengths on uneven rocky and pebbly paths with potholes.
Starting on flat terrain from Port Mathurin to Baie aux Hitres, the slope steepens quite a bit from Fond Baie aux Huitres until l’Union through Dans diriz and Jardin Mamzelle. It then slopes downhill until Hauteur Accacia amid remnants of tree debris (from Gelena), potholes, rocks and pebbles.
We may also expect slippery ground and some fog if the weather is rainy, especially around Jardin Mamzelle. Special shoes and spare lighting are things that would not be too much in ensuring your trail progresses in optimum conditions. And don’t forget your personal stock of refreshment and rekindling stuff, although two refreshing points are scheduled, one at Baie aux Huitres Stadium and the other at Hauteur Accacia.
Anyway, let’s be positive and face this unique opportunity for some fun while enjoying the breath of nature with some eucalyptus scent, although quite a number of these trees have been blown down by Gelena.
Note: This article was written for This Week News Mauritius on February 27, 2019
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].