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 and donate whatever you feel you can afford.


London Marathon – The Decision to run for Save The Rhino

I got the magazine – you know the one – from Virgin London Marathon and it said ‘Sorry’ on the front cover. it’s a very nice magazine full of fascinating information about the London marathon, how to train and how to fuel for a marathon but it still says ‘Sorry’ on the front cover. It means that you don’t get to run in the London Marathon.

I was, well shall we say disappointed.

I decided at that point that I wouldn’t apply for a charity place. That meant that I wouldn’t run in the London Marathon. I’ve entered for Edinburgh next year and I would be happy for that to be my first marathon. It’s a great city and a great course. I’m sure that I’ll love it.

The decision stayed like that for some time but then I began reading the ‘Sorry’ magazine. I saw some of the really great fundraising ideas and thought how much I might enjoy doing some of that stuff. I noticed that one of the charities was ‘Save The Rhino’. As a long time fan of Douglas Adams I have encountered ‘Save The Rhino’ many times. Douglas was a founder member of the charity. However, I felt that it was probably too much to take on at the moment and I was worried about hassling my family and friends to give me donations for the next 6 months.

It was left like that for a couple of days and then Carrie says to me – “you rhinologoknow Save The Rhino are one of the London Marathon Charities?” I said that I was fully cognizant of this. “Wouldn’t you like to run for Save The Rhino?” Well of course I would like to but there were so many potential problems. The main one was that I thought I wouldn’t be able to raise much money. I’d been looking through some of the requirements for other charity places on the marathon and most asked for a 100 pounds registration fee and a pledge to raise at least 2000 pounds. How on earth could I possibly raise 2000 pounds. Carrie waved away my protests. She was buzzing with ideas for raising money and getting people interested in both the charity and my attempt at running a marathon.

There are times when Carrie gets an idea in her head and at those times she suddenly becomes a nuclear powered, unstoppable train, going downhill. She assailed me with so many positive ideas and notions that I was soon swept up in the joy of it all. Moments later I’m in front of a computer screen picking my way through the application process. Save the Rhino, along with the other London Marathon charities have only a limited number of places so they need to make sure they get the best fundraisers that they possibly can. For Save The Rhino in particular this is their biggest single fundraising event of the year so  it’s extremely important to make it count. Such thinking is all very laudable but it does mean that the application process is very much akin to applying for a job. It involves a certain amount of blood, sweat and tears to sell yourself sufficiently that they’ll take you on. I wept those tears, sweated that blood and put together what I hoped would be a decent application. Save the Rhino saw my application and judged that it was good. Only a couple of days later they wrote and offered me a place. I had a few more hoops to jump through and a couple of hurdles and a few poly tunnels to crawl through and I was in.

A London Marathon runner am I.

Now to raise the 2500 pounds that I promised to do in my application. This is a terrifyingly large amount of money to ask for from my friends and family. Most of them are struggling through this recession trying to live frugally and avoid extravagance. I put together my fundraising page and Carrie kicked it off with the first donation. Over the next couple of days more people joined in and after less than a week I find that I’m over a fifth of the way toward my target.

I have some wonderfully generous friends. Thank you very much.

I’m much more hopeful now that I can achieve my fundraising target for Save The Rhino and possibly even surpass it.

There is also the small matter of attempting to run 26.22 miles. A distance I’ve never run before and a distance that seems further than my mind can contemplate.

So you’re probably now desperate to hand over some money to help me reach my target and also to contribute toward the conservation of this few remaining rhino.

It’s easy – just head over to this page

and donate.


Thank you very much