Chris Green is obsessed with saving the rhino and runs in marathons around the world dressed as one. Catherine Scott reports.
Chris green admits he is obsessed with rhinos.
The self-named ‘Rhino Boy’ is now a familiar sight running in the stunning Yorkshire Dales close to his home in Skipton dressed as his favourite mammal.
He has pledged to run 40 marathons, ultramarathons and half marathons culminating in the Virgin Money London marathon in April where he will attempt a second world record.
He already holds the Guinness World Record for running a marathon in the fastest time dressed as a three dimensional animal and now wants to add to this with the fastest time dressed as a mammal.
Despite fund-raising for the last decade to save the rhino Chris says the animals are still endangered.
“Heartbreakingly, the shocking statistics continue to hit home,” explains Chris,44.
“For example like the fact that still, on average, three rhinos are being killed for their horn everyday. So last year I decided to step up the campaign and ever since I’ve been taking on a series of 40 “rhino challenges”which will culminate with the 40th being at the London Marathon itself, to coincide with its own 40th anniversary this year.”
Chris says he fell in love with the rhino when he was about five years old.
“I was lucky enough to go on a family trip of a lifetime to Kenya and saw the amazing animals in the wild. They just looked like a prehistoric monster and that really appealed to a little boy.”
As soon as Chris realised just how endangered his beloved rhino had become he decided he needed to try to help them.
“Rhinos and running have always been my passions and so it made sense to combine the two and I started running for Save the Rhino International.”
But he decided that he needed to do more than just do extreme running.
“In order to maximize attention for the Save The Rhino campaign. I’ve tried to make sure these “rhino challenges” live up to their name and are as “challenging” as possible. I’m now 31 challenges in and have covered over 500 miles in the rhino costume.”
And he definitely draws attention,
He recalls trying to get the 10kg costume through customer at JFK airport before running the New York marathon.
“I was a bit worried about getting through security but they saw the funny side and even tried the rhino costume on.”
Training and running in the bulky costume has its own challenges. “It does get very hot and rubs on my ankles and elbows - you ache in places you wouldn’t normally ache during a marathon.”
His ‘rhinochallenges’ have so far included: a continuous 25 hour, 100 mile challenge where he ran all day and night from London to Oxford.
“Night running is fun as I wear a head torch and then you get even more attention. People love to come up to the rhino and it is a great way of raising aware of their plight as well as money for the charity.” Other challenges have included two 50 mile events, three marathons in three successive days, two Rhino Ultras in two successive days, where he ran 78 miles in the Rhino costume.
He does sometimes run as a human and racks up a good time this month winning a Marathon event at Langsett Reservoir.
Chris only recently moved to Yorkshire from Sussex with his job in relocation. “It’s quite a change but me and my wife already really happy here. It’s a beautiful part of the world and being lucky enough to live right next to the Dales is perfect for all my training,” says Chris. “The people are incredible in Yorkshire and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support the rhino has been receiving at the various Yorkshire marathons I’ve run since arriving here. It’s also been hilarious on my training runs where I’m in the full costume. It’s not everyday people get to see a rhino emerging from the hills. I also had the huge honour of being invited to meet some Leeds Rhinos players back in August at their awesome stadium. I took the rhino along to a training session back then and had a fantastic day. Again a perfect illustration of that warm Yorkshire hospitality that I have grown to love.”
Moving to Yorkshire and going part time has also given Chris the time to fulfil another ambition - finish the children’s book he has been writing - about rhinos of course.
“It is really important to raise awareness among the younger generation. I am a bit rhino obsessed and I do lay awake at night sometimes thinking about what else I can do to raise awareness. The idea for the book came in a half dream one night. I had to get up and write it down. I ran it past Save the Rhino and they really liked it and put me in touch with a publisher.”
Chris hopes his book, The Rhino’s Hope, published by Pegasus will be on book shelves in time for the London marathon in April. But he has plenty to keep him occupied until then.
On Saturday Chris and the rhino will be competing in a very tough cross country marathon around Pateley Bridge. The following weekend they will be running at an event in Barnsley.
He has already raised more than £3,000 of his £4,000 target. It won’t all come to a halt after the 40th challenge either.
“In June I am going to walk coast to coast in the costume. A large part of this walk will be through Yorkshire which I’m so pleased about given the level of encouragement I’ve been getting here. I have to admit its exhausting at times but as long as the rhinos are in trouble I can’t stop. Rhinos are my inspiration and the people who support this campaign and those that kindly donate and sponsor; my motivation.”
To support Chris Green visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rhinoboychrisgreen
For more on the plight of the rhino visit www.savetherhino.org/