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.
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!