Back for its eighth year, the Blackthorn Rally is an annual motorsport rally. The participants are almost all army veterans. This time, the adventure unfolds against the breathtaking backdrop of Kenya. A land known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural tapestry.
The roots of the Blackthorn Rally run deep, founded by a group of comrades who once served together. Every year, this intrepid band of veterans comes together to embark on a thrilling odyssey that takes them on a daring ride across diverse terrains. Armed with powerful off-road motorcycles and 4x4 buggies. These adventurers are not only chasing the thrill of the open road. They are pursuing a deeper connection from their shared service experiences.
Join us as Ben Farrell, the organiser gives us an up close and personal account of what goes down at the rally.
"Blackthorn Rally is an annual motorsports rally for army veterans that was started 8 years ago. This year we are in Kenya. Every year a group of us that served together, gather for an adventure where we set out to travel a distance on motorcycles. We have 4x4 buggies -known as SSV or side by sides in the rallying world. This year we are doing 1500 kilometers off-road from Nairobi, into the bush, through the Masai Mara, a small loop into Tanzania then down to the coast past Mount Kilimanjaro"
"We have a group of veterans joining us, 30 of us in total, some of whom are wounded, injured, or sick. Lamin has joined this year and is a triple amputee."
(Lamin Mannah - Triple amputee after service in Afghanistan wearing a Bravery Moto Jersey. To buy a Bravery Moto Top - Click here - bravery.co.uk/collections/
"We are also doing a conservation project out here to support an area where there has been no rain for 2 years. We have raised the money and are delivering a vast water pan. There are 400 elephants in the area with virtually no water, and they need 200 litres a day each. Our watering pan project should create a sustainable eco-system providing 400,000 litres of water- we just need the rain now!"
"We started doing this 8 years ago and have been growing since. It is a chance for people who served together to come together and enjoy each other's company, comradery, the spirit of endeavor, and cracking the back of a difficult challenge. And doing something for other people. Last year we did a big project in a school in northern Kenya and in the years before we took 20 wounded, injured, and sick soldiers to Morocco."
(In Kenya for 2 weeks, 8 days riding on bikes, 1400km - here is our route.)
"We are setting out to do good things while enjoying ourselves. We come together as people who served together in the army and shared adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we keep in touch having built great friendships. This is as much about comradery, gaining strength from each other, and gaining strength from Toby’s story. That is why I was really keen to support Bravery, and so everyone out here has their Bravery gear, caps, and racing tops. We feel that Bravery is also part of our story and what we are doing here as veterans is very important for all of our mental health and well being."
We can only speak for ourselves, but here at Bravery, events like these inspire us to be 1% better every day. We bid farewell to this year's Blackthorn Rally adventure in hopes it carries on growing. It's not just the dust of the Kenyan trails that settles, but also the enduring memories and friendships that have been cemented along the way.
This annual motorsports rally is more than just a thrilling ride. It's a testament to the unbreakable bonds formed in service. And also a celebration of the courageous spirit that continues to drive these amazing veterans forward each year.
We leave you with the echoes of engines revving, the laughter shared, and the memories that will keep them riding together, wherever the road may lead them.