Sunday didn’t begin well. Having been advised to get a bus from Charlton, after 40 minutes of standing in the cold I eventually got a lift to the O2 in the back of a stranger’s car. The queue was then too big to register my loris shirt. Taking Forrest for a walk amongst the crowds though, I made my way to my starting pen showing off my ‘I love lorises’ badge and scarf. Go time.
The preceding week was nervy. Worried aches and pains were potential injuries I set off slowly, aiming to conserve energy for the hills and final miles. It’s a half-marathon not a sprint remember, and the last thing I wanted was to retire and let down every single individual who’d donated. Picking through people though, I found a comfortable pace and hit 6 miles in just under an hour. Not bad but not enough.
Fatigue crept in but it’s that point in the race which is make or break, and the thoughts of lorises and donations really did help. Forced to use footpaths to overtake, my mile times started to fall whilst my knees began to throb again, blisters formed and my left ankle tore at me. Although tempted to stop or slow for a break, doing so would actually have been more painful.
Somehow my three mile split through Greenwich and its park was actually my fastest. Reaching the 12 marker, my race highlight was probably bouncing along the area’s historic streets, high-fiving children whilst one my favourite techno tunes of 2012 played. Julian Jeweil’s The Gang for any dance connoisseurs.
1.1 remaining then. Surrounded by crowds and with months of preparation behind you, you persevere despite your body demanding otherwise. My last 10 minutes felt like hours. I collapsed over the finish line an emotional mess, barely able to stand and tears of relief, joy, pride and agony seeping out.
So that was Run Loris, Run! It took me 2:05:41, an average of 9:35 per mile. I couldn’t have done any more, and 4 days later am still having trouble walking. It was worth it, though. To do that and raise over £700 is not just humbling, but one of the biggest achievements of my life. As far as I know no else one in the UK’s done such a thing for the loris, or maybe even further afield.
Although I’ve focused on the pet trade, this merely is the iceberg’s tip. Traditional medicine is also a huge threat to the loris, plus deforestation, bushmeat and now the emergence of tourist lorises in Thailand. A couple of weeks ago, the Javan slow loris was once more named one of the planet’s 25 most endangered primates. Anyone who contributed in any way to my run should feel a great sense of pride.
I think I will do another half-marathon. As much as I have enjoyed this however, I may have to leave it a while before doing one for another animal. Give it two or three years and you might come across a similar site. In the meantime a heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s promoted this, donated, given me training tips, offered support, or put up with my no-nicotine tantrums. You’ve all helped play a small part in saving a truly unique, beautiful and fascinating species. Terima Kasih.