Rhino runs For Tablet At Eglinton Parkrun

A wet and windy day in Scotland. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

We’re driving toward Eglinton and google is confidently giving instructions over my phone. I’ve programmed the postcode in from the parkrun website and my phone tells me that we will arrive at 09:21 for a parkrun that starts at 09:30. Easy peasy.

At 09:21 on the dot we arrive at a road called Long Drive and there’s no sign of a parkrun or even the entry to the park. We set off again but this time spot some brown signs pointing toward the country park. Google maps is discarded and we’re on our way once more. Car park found and we’re dragging the rhino out of the car, yelling to passing folk to ask where the parkrun is. They point and shout and away we go with me busily trying to strap myself into the suit as we run across the field. It’s exactly 09:30 and everyone is at the start ready to go. There’s a fine cheer as I stumble across the field and join the runners. Then we’re away up and into the park. A dog begins sniffing my tail. His owner chuckles as she runs past. “It looks like he wants to get in there with you.” I’m not sure I want to share the inside of the rhino suit with an extremely friendly dog but thankfully he passes on by.

They told me at the Ayr parkrun that this was a nice hard surface at Eglinton and I should imagine that for most of the time it is but last night we got a huge amount of rain and huge swathes of the park have turned into a mighty swamp. The rain is still falling and it’s bitter cold. I have the choice of trying to run around the puddles and ending up in super slippery mud or ploughing straight through. I choose the latter option and find myself immersed in freezing cold water. Yet again I’m heating up in the suit but from my knees downwards I am numb with the cold. A weird sensation indeed.

We turn to go up another hill and another dog has spotted me. It squats down and refuses to budge. The owner pulls it away and waits until I’ve passed. Dogs in particular often find the rhino suit somewhat confusing. They see something that looks quite large and may be dangerous and yet it smells human. Most confusing. Their usual reaction is to look confused, bark a little and do a bit of sniffing.

As is so often the case I’m finding it tough by around 2.5 kilometres. After that it’s al about gutting it out. Point your horn frontwards and just keep moving on.

I weave around and about and lose all sense of direction. I try to keep other runners in sight so I know where I’m going. I round bend after bend and think every time that this must be the one that reveals the finish line. Time after time I’m disappointed but at last it happens. The funnel is there and there’s people cheering and shouting. I cross the line and collect my token. Moments later I see an angel bearing Tablet flavoured with Irn Bru. A splendid post run snack. Thank you angel.

I’ve just received my Eglinton parkrun time and it seems I’ve set myself a parkrun rhino personal best.

Thank you Eglinton parkrunners for helping me to a rhino pb.

Eglinton parkrun results for event #145. Your time was 00:33:21

Jim’s Save The Rhino Fundraising Page


Running Rhino at Ayr parkrun

It’s Christmas Day in Ayr and Carrie and I are celebrating this festival of wine, beer, pigs in blankets and Christmas pud. by popping down to Rozelle Park to run the 5k parkrun. Just to make it that bit more interesting I’ll be wearing a rhino costume.

I got a great reception when I arrived, with a mighty cheer from all the lovely folks assembled near the start. There were several santas, some dogs and a couple of running buggys amongst the crowd. The run director tried to give her pre run briefing but stumbled a little. “Sorry folks,” she said, “I was distracted by the rhino.”

We trotted off through the trees and away toward the lakes. There’s a hill first. “Waaaah!” says I as I find myself bowling down the hill desperately trying to stay on my feet. “WAAAAY!” say the spectators in response perhaps mistaking my yell of terror for exuberant celebration.

Around the lakes and back again, passing the start. We weave through the trees and start the second lap. I’m starting to overheat again now. There are no distance markers ( none that I saw) on this parkrun but I reckon we must be about half way. It is distinctly unglamorous inside this suit at the moment. The change from very cold to very hot has made my nose run and I am producing huge amounts of sweat. It’s as well folk can’t see into here too well. It’s not a pretty sight.

It seems a long way but eventually I reach that blessed turn out of the trees onto the open field. At this point I can see the finish line and I suddenly feel a new surge of energy. Hmmmm, thinks I. This extra energy would have been much more useful earlier on when I was struggling up that hill.

I run through the funnel and then peer left and right looking for my finishing tag. I can’t see it. Then again I can’t see much out of this rhino costume. I really must take some video for you sometime so that you can see what I can see when I’m wearing this thing.

pic of rhino at finish line

I take off the rhino head to try and cool down but I’m soon having to don it again so that people can take photographs. There are mince pies available and we stand around chatting to folks. It was wonderfully friendly and I’d like to thank everyone at Ayr parkrun who made my visit such a delightful experience.

pic of rhino with christmas lightsIf anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

A Windy Seashore

It’s Christmas time and what does that mean?

Well, one of the things it means is that my wife and I hire a  car a go to visit our Northern mothers (one in Ayr and one in Leeds). The other thing is that I get to run in some different places. Hurrah, let’s pack up the car and be on our way.

Ayr is our first destination and is a fine seaside town on the West coast of Scotland. Ayr is often windy and this Christmas it seems to have settled in to really show off its talent for flinging we fragile human beings hither and thither along the prom.

pic of Sea at Ayr

Everyone is huddled up in their rain clothes peering out at me bustling along in my running shorts. They shake their heads sadly at this poor fool who was obviously dropped on his head as a child and now doesn’t even have the sense to stay indoors when the Scottish weather starts to do its thing. I’ve been out three times so far and it’s been a mighty battle each time.

The first outing was the most pleasant. I only received a medium level battering and by the time I’d passed DoonFoot and was slogging my way up the beach, past the castle and on to the holiday camp I was taking it all in my stride (admittedly sometimes my stride went sideways as the wind gave me a playful little nudge).

pic of Ayr Castle

Approaching the castle (more of a small tower really) there was a sheer cliff face. Tempted as I was to explore further, I felt there was more running to be done before scrambling about on the cliffs so I saved that one for the way back. I’m glad I did as the climb was a little easier from the other side.

pic of tower at ayr

I couldn’t actually get inside though. The doors and windows had been bricked up. A shame but possibly necessary to cut down on vandalism. Running back was much easier as the wind was behind me. I actually felt that I was cheating a little having the wind carry me along so twisted my route around a little so that I could run into the wind again. I see you there giving me a funny look but I maintain that it was a perfectly rational thing to do.

Next time out things started to get really silly. The promenade from where I’m staying on Prestwick road down to the docks was receiving a soaking as waves crashed over onto the road. It looked splendidly dramatic but was quite worrying and involved some paddling to get by this and into Ayr.

I persevered and then checked my phone to see how far I’d gone. Drat! My running app had stopped recording and so showed that I had run about 1 kilometre whereas I was at about 5. Ah well, back I go into the splashing waves and the paddling pool road. The wind was behind me here and I kept on, going past where I started, to twiddle about in the streets for a bit. Excellent fun but rather more weather than I like to confront all in one go.

pic of beach

Third time out was just appalling. it started off at about the same intensity as day two but with Storm Eva having just whistled on through it was dragging a bunch of squally squabbly weather systems it its wake.

I hit the sea front and was about to run into Ayr when I spotted a small path going away toward Prestwick. Always keen to explore I jumped on it and wombled my way along between the sea and the golf course. The waves were being as dramatic as on the previous day but I wasn’t going to let a bit of weather stop me from getting in the miles. I passed a sign later telling me that I could get hit by flying golf balls and that it was all at my own risk. Fortunately I knew I was safe. Golfers are renowned for coming out in all sorts of weathers but this force of wind is enough to dissuade even the most maniacal of golfers. I ended up in the town of Prestwick and thought of carrying on to the airport (famous for being the only bit of the UK that Elvis Presley ever visited. He touched down there while changing planes) but turned instead back into the streets that would take me back home. It was then that the hail began. The wind flung the hail at me with incredible force and it did feel like I was being soundly whipped. I was stuck out in the open and not enjoying it at all. It was then that I discovered that I was quite lost. I also realised that I was feeling quite miserable. OK, fix this. I opened up the running app on my phone. I expanded the view and there not so far away was the blue line showing where I had first began, only a couple of kilometres away. Hurrah thinks I. Head down and head for home.

I arrived back and, of course, it stopped hailing just before I went into the house. “It’s horrible out there says I.” “Looks OK to me says loving wife.” “It was hailing a minute ago” I claim. She shakes her head sadly. “You’ve turned into a soft Southerner haven’t you?”

“Harumph” says I.

That told her.

Jim’s Rhino Running Tour Of Parkruns

Over December and the Christmas and New Year period I’ve been doing a tour of parkruns to raise awareness amongst fellow parkrunners for the charity Save The Rhino and to try and encourage fellow runners to donate to that charity through my London marathon rhino fundraising page at http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt .

It all started with the:

5th December Cambridge parkrun written up here at http://www.abitofrunning.com/running-with-rhinos-in-milton-country-park/


And then we packed the rhino suit into the car to go to Huntingdon

12th December Huntingdon parkrun written up here at http://www.abitofrunning.com/running-rhino-in-huntingdon/

rhino at Huntingdon
A Rhino in the Room

19th December Wimpole parkrun written up here at http://www.abitofrunning.com/rhino-parkrunning-at-wimpole-estate/

rhino at Wimpole

25th December Ayr parkrun written up here http://www.abitofrunning.com/running-rhino-at-ayr-parkrun/


26th December Eglinton parkrun written up here http://www.abitofrunning.com/rhino-runs-for-tablet-at-eglinton-parkrun/

pic of jim and carrie arriving at Eglinton parkrun

1st Jan Woodhouse Moor 0900 written up here http://www.abitofrunning.com/new-years-day-on-woodhouse-moor/

pic of sam and me

1st Jan Temple Newsam 10:30 written up here http://www.abitofrunning.com/a-temple-newsam-parkrun-rhino/

pic of rhino at Temple Newsam

2nd Jan Oakwell Hall My muddiest parkrun so far. Written up here http://www.abitofrunning.com/rhino-running-in-oakwell-mud/

ic of Jim the rhino at Oakwell Hall

Rhino parkrunning at Wimpole Estate

We are gathering outside the stable block and I’m feeling a little nervous. There seem to be a huge number of dogs around and I’ve discovered recently that my rhino costume tends to make them nervous. When dogs get nervous they tend to get a bit more barky and bitey than usual and I’m not keen on engaging too closely with anything that wants to bite me. I find that these dogs are nervous but they are calm, cool and sophisticated dogs. They keep a wary eye upon me lest I go bezerk and start goring people with my horn but for now they reckon they’ll let me live.

We had our prerun briefing and my wife Carrie is invited to say a few words to let everyone know about Save The Rhino and my fundraising page, http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt .

We are released onto the course and begin to stomp our way through the fields. The cows and sheep are uninterested in our progress. The marshalls make up for the disinterest by redoubling their shouts of encouragement.

We reach the far side of the field and turn right. The wind blasts across and I find myself running sideways. Richard who is my rhino guide looks at me curiously as I begin to drift away. I fight my way back to the track and eventually reach what looks to me like a vertical cliff face. It’s actually just a hill but with fighting the wind I’m really feeling it. I have to slow to a walk as I climb to the top and thankfully there’s a little downhill on the other side. I relax a little but then when I get to the bottom the wind has returned and there are giant lakes of mud impeding my path. It was a tough run. Massive amounts of heat built up in my suit as I continually fought the wind and tried to run in a straight line and then Richard has to pull me out of the mud. Eventually we passed the 4km mark and turned toward the bridge. Just a few yards in front of us a chap slipped and fell heavily. His feet went into the air as if he was some silent movie comedian doing a number on a banana skin. He wasn’t down for long though. He clambered back to his feet, shook himself like a dog that’s just climbed out a a lake and carried on. Maybe there was a PB at stake. I trod carefully upon the bridge. Runners before me had trampled huge amounts of mud onto the bridge and then compressed it until it had become a solid mass of super slidey death mud. Needless to say I stepped gingerly over the bridge of slips.

I turned in front of the glorious Wimpole Hall and then back to the start/finish line to cheering rhino fans. I was absolutely exhausted and definitely couldn’t claim myself a rhino PB this time.

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.


Running Rhino in Huntingdon

We huffed and puffed and shoved and shoved.

The rhino suit was stashed in the back of Richard’s car and I slid myself underneath it. This costume was not designed with portability in mind. It spreads itself into every available space. I pronounce myself and rhino fully installed installed and away we go.

rhino suit in car
It just fits

I’ve only ever been to the Huntingdon parkrun once before so I thought I knew what to expect. I remembered us winding our way around Hinchingbrooke Country Park, taking in the lakes and then making our way back over the hill. I chatted to one of the park wardens and he told me that the previous route had become a contentious issue with many other park users who were more than a little unhappy about the runners churning it up and turning the park into pools of water decorated with ridges of Huntingdon’s finest sludgy mud. Parkrun, always keen to remain good neighbours had agreed to alter the course to try and stick to the harder surfaces. It isn’t as pretty but while attempting to drag myself and rhino suit around the 5k I was quite grateful for those non sludgy surfaces.

I got a lovely reception from the other parkrunners and I posed for many pictures. They even did a nice little announcement at the start telling folks what I was up to and even trying to explain why I was wandering around in a rhino suit.

We also attended the new runners and visitors talk and were reminded that slower runners and rhinos should keep to the right to allow faster runners to pass.

Carrie took some photos of me and this one I find particularly amusing.

I’m standing in the middle of a crowd of folk and they all have their backs to me. Carrie suggests that the caption should be ‘the rhino in the room’.

rhino at Huntingdon
A Rhino in the Room

We set off and I lumbered after the crowd wagging my little rhino tail behind me. At the first turn there was this crazy person (hello Henry) shouting at us. He has huge amounts of that wonderful parkrun enthusiasm packed into one person and releases it without reservation upon everyone that passes. It’s a little disconcerting (terrifying) when first encountered but delightful next time around when I knew what to expect.

start of race
Just before start

The path was really nice and we wound around in amongst the trees. I’m moving well and begin to pass folks. They wish me well as I silently glide by. OK OK, I bustle past in a flurry of noise and bizarre bouncing costume bits careering out in every direction. It must be a traumatic experience for many. I pass one person and assure her that she’ll probably pass me again later. She thinks maybe not but reckons she has an excuse for keeping it nice and steady this week. This is her first time back running after having a baby. I think she said she gave birth two weeks ago!

We see Henry again and are now prepared for his force nine enthusiasm. He puts wind in our sails and I’m now shuffling along as fast as my little rhino legs will carry me. I yomp home in a time of 33:29 which I claim as my rhino parkrun PB. Huntingdon parkrun have a wonderful tradition and if you know you’ve got a personal best then you ring the PB bell. I rang it heartily and did a rhino dance of celebration.

Jolly good fun

We put together some video clips of the run.

Hope you enjoy:

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.


Running with Rhinos in Milton Country Park

It was a frightfully windy day on the 5th of December in a small village on the periphery of Cambridge. People were converging upon Milton Country Park for the weekly 5K parkrun.

A large grey creature stepped out onto the street and wobbled a little as it tried to figure out where the footpath was. The ever helpful Carrie stepped in front and the rhino followed along. Cars stopped in the street, dogs barked and people stared as we staggered onwards.

We arrived at around 08:30 and the photographer from Cambridge News was already there. He waved and pointed and we all moved this way and that to the rhythm of the media. Various parkrun volunteers were ushered across to join in and a queue of people formed up to have their picture taken with the rhino. Having no peripheral vision and not being able to hear too much I just stood there most of the time as things happened around me.

Carrie was busy handing out cards with the web address of the fundraising site and offering people stickers with the logo for Save The Rhino. The kids, in particular seemed to like the stickers. Several people gave us their coffee money and on behalf of the rhinos we were happy to accept.

We set off at 9 o clock and I shuffled after the crowd. I was moving well but had no idea where I was putting my feet. I stumbled several times over puddles, holes and even a small pebble.

The noise inside my suit was incredible. The whole thing was bouncing about and all I could hear was swishing and swooshing and banging and crashing. Richard was running beside  me and trying to keep up the conversation. I yelled back as best I could. I suspect I misheard most of what he said and it’s quite possible that most of my responses made no sense at all. Nice chap that he is though he made no mention of this and still struggled valiantly to chat and guide me along as we ran through the park.

We started slowly but increased the pace as we went along. An ache developed in my back probably brought on by my having to bend forward to peer out of the suit. As our pace increased we started to pass people and made several of them (especially the ones wearing headphones) jump and utter little shrieks. Evil rhino that I am, I found this immensely satisfying.

It was an incredibly difficult run. I got hotter and hotter inside the costume and was nicely stewed by the end. I staggered over the line feeling enormously relieved to get there without keeling over and becoming stranded rhino in a puddle in the park. Various people have suggested that I try to run the marathon in the rhino suit. After this outing I can confidently say that I haven’t the strength or the stamina to do it. It’s possible that I may gain this stamina and strength with my winter training but very unlikely.

Jim in rhino suit
Richard checks to see if I’m still alive in there.







My friend Richard carrying the rhino head

So, it was a lot of fun but was it a success from a fundraising point of view?

We took 22 pounds in cash at the event and I’ve been posting tweets, blogs and videos about it all day. A good number of donations have come in to the  website http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and now at 20:52 in the evening I see that we’ve added 117 pounds to the total for Save The Rhino.

Cambridge News rang me for an interview and they’ve got a whole bunch of photos for the paper so maybe we’ll get a few more donations from that.

It was an enjoyable day. Cambridge parkrun and my fellow parkrunners were all splendidly supportive. My friends Lloyd, Steve and Richard all helped and it was great to have them around. Run director Paul Beastall was really great and of course my wonderful wife Carrie ensured that I was organised and handed out stickers and contact cards to anyone that wanted one. She also made sure that I didn’t get run over on the way to and from the parkrun for which I was most grateful.

Most excellent fun!

Collecting Rhino Suit

I’ve volunteered to run the London Marathon next year and am raising money for Save The Rhino. My fundraising link is here . Please bung a few quid in the direction of the rhinos.

I picked up the suit from the offices of Save The Rhino on 30th November and then had the wonderfully bizarre experience of trying to get it back to Cambridge on public transport. Fortunately everyone we encountered was absolutely wonderful and splendidly helpful.

We hung around at the Save The Rhino Office for a while, took some pictures and video and then set off back to Cambridge.

Walking back to Borough tube station we were tooted many times by passing traffic and then ushered through the turnstiles by the lovely folks at the Borough. They asked me to do a bit of posing as they took pictures with their phones to show what sort of people they had to deal with every day. Being the frightful poseur that I am I was only too happy to be photographed by the people on the turnstiles.

I couldn’t stand up straight on the tube train and spent most of my time bent over trying not to get in the way of people boarding and alighting the train. I heard someone say to Carrie, “he could sit over here.” She thanked them but said “I don’t think it’s possible for him to sit down.” We lurched out at Kings Cross and into the train station. Thankfully we had got there before rush hour and so managed to find a place where I could unlatch myself from rhino costume and drape it across several seats.

We had wondered about catching a bus from Cambridge train station but having now witnessed the sheer size of this rhino costume we realised that it just had to be a taxi. We were asked searching questions about the costume in the queue. These are the same questions I am asked many times so I shall try to answer them here:

How heavy is it?   Not very heavy. It’s only about 10 kilogrammes but it is frightfully awkward and bounces about everywhere.

Is it really difficult to get in and out of? Not as difficult as  you might think. It’s got a rucksack structure inside it so you just need to strap it on.

Can you see out of it?   Not very well. I have no peripheral vision. I just see a porthole in front of me and so rely quite heavily on people with me to make sure I don’t veer left or right in front of other folks.

Do you think you can run a marathon in it?  Currently no. I don’t have the strength or stamina to run 26 miles in this contraption. I dearly wish that I could, as it would be brilliant for Save The Rhino if I could promote them in that way.

We got into a taxi with some difficulty. We put the head in the boot and the costume in the back seat. It entirely filled up the space there and I slid underneath it. I suspect the driver wasn’t entirely pleased that the spikes that the head slides on to were digging into his roof. I’m pretty sure that they didn’t do any damage.

The rhino suit is now filling up our spare bedroom. No visitors I’m afraid until the rhino has left the building.


The cats are now terrified of that room


Finally I would like to say thank you here to Grace at Save The Rhino who has already given me so much help and encouragement. Also to my wife Carrie who helped me to get the costume home and gave massive support on my first run in the rhino suit, of which more in the next blog post.