June 2013

One man, one rhino and the ultimate test of endurance

One man, one rhino and the ultimate test of endurance

30 May 2013

On Sunday 2 June, Vincent O’Neill will become the first person ever to attempt an ultra-marathon in rhino costume. Vinny will be racing in South Africa’s legendary Comrades Marathon, an 87km course from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

Vinny will be running in an 8kg rhino costume to raise funds and awareness for Save the Rhino International. Not only will he have to endure heat, limited vision and restricted movement because of the costume, the course will be even more challenging as it is an ‘up year’ when the route is predominantly uphill.

Vinny holds the record for the fastest marathon rhino costume runner, having completed the 2012 Virgin London Marathon in an impressive 4:17:27. Without the rhino costume, Vinny has a marathon personal best of 2:53:54; running in the rhino costume increased his time by 49%, showing the enormity of the challenge. Vinny has just 12 hours to complete the Comrades course, at which point the race organisers close the finish line.

Vinny has supported Save the Rhino since 2005, when he completed a team rhino-costume challenge with a relay run-swim-cycle from London to Paris. He has also completed several Virgin London Marathons to raise money for Save the Rhino. This year, Vinny also featured in the rhino costume for a promotional film for ASICS’ ‘Better Your Best’ campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjVD-qR7Ab4

Running a South African race in rhino costume is particularly poignant at this time; Vinny’s ultimate test of endurance comes as rhino poaching hits a crisis point. This year, as at 24 May, 350 rhinos have been poached; that’s one every 10 hours. Highly organised criminal syndicates are deploying ruthless tactics to kill rhinos for their horns, which are in high demand in Asian countries such as Vietnam. Vinny says: “Rhino poaching isn’t just South Africa’s problem – we care all across the world. Running the Comrades in rhino is my way of raising awareness and funds for rhino protection efforts.” Cathy Dean, Director of Save the Rhino, adds “We need more heroes like Vinny. The cash they raise provides vital support for anti-poaching units in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and other key rhino areas.”

To sponsor Vinny, please visit his online fundraising page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/VinnyComrades2013

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors

For more information or images: Please contact Katherine at Save the Rhino on +44 (0)20 7357 7474.

For more information on the Comrades ultra-marathon: http://www.comrades.com/

For more information on Save the Rhino’s London Marathon team: http://www.savetherhino.org/events/past_events/virgin_london_marathon_2013

Save the Rhino International: Connecting conservation and communities
Registered charity number: 1035072

Save the Rhino International works to conserve viable populations of critically endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia. We recognise that the future of wildlife is inextricably linked to the communities that share its habitat. By funding field projects and through education, our goal is to deliver material, long-lasting and widespread benefits to rhinos and other endangered species, ecosystems and to the people living in these areas.

www.savetherhino.org