By Jim Mowatt: “We’ve got a bloody fanzine to get out. Where’s your stuff?” Nic Farey has written a series of messages demanding, quite rightly that I get my finger out and send in my contributions for the fanzine, Beam. Unfortunately I’ve been distracted by a number of five-toed ungulates from the family Rhinocerotidae.
The rhino is having a bit of a tough time you see with all manner of people trying to kill it so that they can chop off the horn and sell it to deluded idiots who think that in powdered form it can do all sorts of wonders for them. There are all sorts of things being done to try to protect them and it all takes money so I figured that I would try to get them some money. Not wanting to make things easy for myself I volunteered for the London Marathon as a charity runner for Save The Rhino International and set up a fundraising page here: http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt/ .
A little later as I’m musing over how I can raise the profile of the charity and my campaign I have another ridiculous idea. Why don’t I borrow one of their rhino suits and do some shorter runs in that? It sounds easy but the execution of this plan proved to be a little fraught.
I don’t have a car so decided that I would try to get the rhino suit from London to Cambridge on public transport. It’s far too big and unwieldy to carry so I wore it through the London subway from Borough to Kings Cross. Station staff pointed and laughed and when they’d recovered a bit asked if they could take my photograph. Eventually my wife Carrie and I made it back to Cambridge and she wedged me into a taxi so we could be taken home. Phew!
Compared to that, going out to run 5K at my local parkrun was a piece of cake. We got up and toddled around to the park. Carrie carefully guiding me along as I have no peripheral vision in the suit. can’t see where I’m treading and can’t hear very much. The chap from the local paper was waiting for me at parkrun and spent considerable time arranging people around me so he could take several thousand pictures. Inside the suit I had very little idea what was going on. We set off on the run at 0900 and the noise inside the suit grew from loud to cacophonous. The whole thing was bouncing around all swooshing, wooshing, crunching and crackling as I ran along.
It was tough going. It is ridiculously hot in the suit and it seemed to push me forward a little so there was quite an ache in my back even after only a mile. I started to get a feel for how to run in it and so for the second mile I started to pass people. Seeing folks (especially those wearing earphones) jump and shriek as I passed gave me enormous pleasure (evil rhino that I am).
I staggered across the line and was incredibly relieved to remove the rhino head and cool down a little. One child expressed his disappointment that I wasn’t a real rhino. We bought him off with a Save The Rhino sticker and asked him not to tell anyone.
We added some money to my fundraising total and Fannish fans on Facebook have been particularly generous. Thank you everyone for your help so far.
To answer the question that is possibly bubbling up in many minds out there, no I don’t think I’ll be running the London Marathon on 24th April 2016 in the rhino suit. I don’t reckon I’ll have the strength or the stamina to do it. Despite this I hope many of you will watch out for me next year though if you get to watch the marathon. It’s an amazing event and will be my first ever attempt at running 26.2 miles.
Jim Mowatt is a former TAFF winner. Jim’s London Marathon fundraising page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JimMowatt