- D.J. Richardson
When I set off across Namibia in a rented truck, the last thing I expect to do was find myself racing a giraffe along a very remote desert road. The drive inland from the coast, in Skeleton Coast National Park, is stark, beautiful, and empty. I hadn't seen another car or truck for more than an hour when I spotted a giraffe on the horizon, standing just where the dirt road disappeared over a slight grade.
I slowed slightly as I approached, certain that the giraffe would amble or run away from the road, but uncertain which direction it would choose. I did not want giraffe roadkill on my conscience. But instead, as I got closer, the giraffe started trotting forward, just to the right of the road. And as I got closer, he (I think "he") sped up to stay just ahead of the jeep.
The landscape was flat and empty. If he were intending to run away from me, he could easily have veered away from the truck. Instead, he ran just a few feet ahead of me, apparently determined to win this race that he had challenged me to. I grabbed my camera with one hand, while holding the wheel with the other, and snapped randomly, hoping I'd end up with at least one decent shot of my only sporting event of the trip.
After a minute or so of racing, he seemed to decide that he had crossed a finish line just ahead of me, and slowed to a stop, allowing me to continue along the highway, knowing that I had come a close second. It was the highlight of the trip.