RUNNING 10 miles is a tough enough feat for most people – but animal lover Elly McMeehan is taking the challenge to another level.
The 33-year-old bank account manager from Southsea is going to be wearing a 22lb rhino costume for the Great South Run in an attempt to raise cash and awareness for charity Save the Rhino.
The race is the world’s leading 10-mile running event and part of the Great Run Series. It returns to Southsea on Sunday, where more than 20,000 participants will be on the start line.
For Elly, it will be her fourth time running – and the first time in her rhino costume, which she has affectionately dubbed ‘Beryl’.
She said: ‘As far as the charity is aware, I’m the first rhino in the Great South Run. I ran the London Marathon as Beryl in 2015 and raised £3,500. I am running it again next year, aiming to raise more than £5,000. So the Great South Run is a warm-up and hopefully a great fundraising opportunity.’
Elly’s personal best time for the Great South Run is 1hr 19mins, which she is not expecting to match in the suit.
‘If I get under two hours then I will be happy,’ she said.
Elly ran the London Marathon as Beryl in 2015 in 5hrs 47mins – the third quickest time anyone has run the race in the suit. The quickest time is 5hrs 3mins for a woman, and 4hr 16mins for a man.
She has been out practising around the city with the costume, which she said has been a ‘challenge’.
‘The rhino weighs 10 kilos and has close to zero visibility,’ she said. ‘So apologies in advance if you are also running and I take you out!’
Elly’s husband, Mark Wiggett, 31, will also be taking part, but in more traditional running gear.
‘He thinks I’m crazy, but he’s known me for a while so he’s used to me,’ she said.
Elly said she was inspired to raise money for Save the Rhino after seeing rhinos in the wild while on honeymoon in Kenya in 2013. She said: ‘All money raised is for Save the Rhino, who do a fantastic job protecting rhinos all over the world. At current rates of poaching rhinos will be extinct in 10 years, so they desperately need support.’
To sponsor Elly go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EllyMcMeehan