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Meet Rhino Boy – taking on marathons in full costume!

We’ve had some pretty epic challenges taking place at White Star Running events in the past, but at the Spring Larmer Tree Races in March 2021 we experienced a first for us! We’ve had farm animals and unicorns and cows… so why not a rhino?

We’re talking about Chris Green, aka Rhino Boy, who ran his 99th marathon with us on Sunday 6th March for the Spring Larmer Tree Marathon. Chris ran his first marathon in full rhino costume back in 2009 at the London Marathon and has never looked back. His first non-rhino marathon was at New York Marathon in 1999, so Chris certainly has some experience under his belt!

Talking about Spring Larmer, Chris says: “It took 99 marathons to find White Star Running! Which only goes to prove that great things are worth waiting for! What a day the rhino and I had at this year’s Spring Larmer! It was tough! One of the toughest challenges the rhino and I have ever taken on. But the spectacular views and amazing atmosphere there made it so worth it! I loved the route and everyone there who made it such an incredible day. The rhino and I can’t wait to get back to another WSR event, and the challenge of the Ox weekend of running. It’s like nothing the rhino and I have ever tried before! Four Epic events in one Epic weekend of running! I won’t lie, I’m both terrified and excited in equal measure!

“Above all I’m so grateful to WSR for the opportunity to take this on and for another chance to run with such a great community of people! I received so much support and encouragement from everyone when I ran the Larmer, and people have kindly continued to ask about why I’m so passionate about rhinos.”

So, we asked Chris about why he runs marathons for Save the Rhino International! We’ve popped links at the bottom where you can make a donation to the Chris’s fundraising, as well as how you can follow Rhino Boy on social media.

Why rhinos?

“I’ve loved rhinos my whole life! So when I heard that there were so few rhinos left in the wild that we risked losing them forever, I knew that I had to get involved and started running and fundraising for Save the Rhino International. A very special charity that is working tirelessly on multiple fronts to protect this awesome species for future generations.

There are five different species of rhino in Africa and Asia, and sadly three have been classified as critically endangered. The two greatest threats they face are from habitat loss and even more tragically from poachers and the twisted trade in rhino horn, which sees these magnificent animals killed simply for their horn! Save the Rhino is standing up for this awesome species and I intend to do all I can to help them too. 

The Save the Rhino costume is iconic! As an emblem of the struggle to save the species, I feel enormously honoured every time I wear the suit. So far I have raised over £14k through all the rhino marathons and challenges I have run. 

To further help the cause I have even written a children’s book, called Matumaini: The Rhinos’ Hope. It’s all about a rhino that loves to run. Matumaini is the name of my lead character and also the Swahili word for ‘hope’ and it’s my hope that through her adventures ‘little Matu’ can inspire a love of rhinos and bring about much-needed change. It’s available from Amazon and Waterstones, and I’m donating 50% of my proceeds to Save the Rhino while donating as many copies as possible to various children’s charities.

Running adventures

As with my love of rhinos, I’ve also always loved running. It’s the privilege of my life that I get to combine the two and run as my favourite animal so often. I often joke that I’m almost more rhino than human these days! I’ve been fortunate enough to experience so many highlights, including:

  • Achieving GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS for marathon and half-marathon distances in the costume: Fastest marathon dressed as a mammal set at the London Marathon in 2021 with a time of 4:06:35; and Fastest half-marathon dressed as a mammal at the Great North Run with a time of 1:50:05. I also hold the title for Fastest marathon dressed as a three-dimensional animal from London 2019.
  • Running over 1,200 event miles in the costume including 38 marathons, 6 ultramarathons, 2 half-marathons, 1 prison break out, and Yorkshire’s 3 Peaks Challenge. The latter has been the hardest challenge to date. I decided to take it on in July 2021 on my birthday of all days. Which also happened to be the hottest day of the year. Scaling peaks in a huge cumbersome rhino suit with such restricted visibility was hard enough, but all in 28-degree heat as well! It may not sound like a great way to celebrate, but it was such an adventure and all the support the rhino got that day inspired me round in 7hrs 58mins.
  • I shall never forget when I got to join the Leeds Rhinos Rugby League team during one of their training sessions. It was so good to get all the rhinos together!
  • Running a marathon with the rhino’s help inside an old prison. To do the marathon, you had to complete 79 gruelling laps, through A and B wings, around the courtyard and up and down over 10,000 stairs! I ran the first 58 as a human and then the rhino joined in for the last 20 to break us out of there!’
  • Running a Dawn to Dusk event with The Sikhs in the City running group where I managed to rack up 36 miles in the costume in one long day of rhino action. I couldn’t have done that one without the vegetarian samosas feeding the rhino that’s for sure. 
  • Perhaps my best memory of all though was the rhino and I being put through our paces during a Q&A session with primary school kids in Sheffield. It was wonderful to see how much the children care about saving our planet and the animals we’re so lucky to share it with. It certainly gave me so much hope for the future! 

Staying rhino fit

In order to sustain rhino match fitness for all these events, I have to train in the costume a lot! Personally, I love any excuse to wear the costume. I see it as an opportunity to spread the rhino word and to fundraise, as you never know who you are going to meet, even running around the block. 

Although people are often shocked initially when they see a huge rhino bouncing round the corner, that shock and surprise almost always quickly turns to big grins and laughter. When people find out why you’re running and about the work of Save the Rhino they really want to help. So, on my runs I attach a donation jar to the horn just in case and I’m always touched by the generosity of folk.  

My first-ever marathon as a human was at the New York Marathon in 1999 and I’ve now run over 100 marathons in total, with around half in full rhino costume (and that number just keeps rising!).

In order to raise as much awareness as possible to the plight of my favourite animal. I am always dreaming up new rhino challenges that I can take on in order to grab people’s attention. The more unique a challenge the better, which is why taking on WSR’s Spring Larmer appealed so much and why I can’t wait for the Ox weekend of running! I see the rhino costume as a great opportunity to spread happiness and rhino joy, and it’s the ultimate way to highlight the important message regarding the rhinos’ plight. I do try and make each challenge as much fun or as ‘epic’ as possible. Throughout the pandemic, for example, even when lockdowns restricted so many fundraising opportunities, I tried to dream up new ways of maintaining momentum. Like when the rhino and I took on a virtual Kilimanjaro climb in my home during the first lockdown!

Everyone seems to love the rhino as I say, but they rarely realise the trouble they are in so I see it as my job to shout about it.

All these adventures are yet more reasons why I’m even more grateful to rhinos and to all the people who are helping me to get the message out there. So, once again, I’d like to say a huge thank you to WSR for everything you have done and are doing to help this cause!

Rhinos are peaceful, gentle giants that represent everything in this world we need to protect! They desperately need our help, so I really appreciate any opportunity to get them attention and much needed support. Together we can help get them the safety and the space they so deserve.”

We want to say thank you to Chris for choosing to run with us at White Star Running and we’re really looking forward to seeing him on the course this year. You can find Chris as Rhino Boy on Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to donate, Chris’s fundraising link is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rhinoboychrisgreen 

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