Run Loris, Run!

"No pain, no pain."

“No pain, no pain.”

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.

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Eye of the Loris

Gladiators, ready!

Contenders, ready!

This time tomorrow it will all be over. The end of all the planning, training and worrying, the only things left to do a write-up and to ensure the Little Fireface Project get all donations safely.

The build-up hasn’t been easy. Following 11.8 miles on Friday 19th, I’ve had a couple of niggling injuries to content with which have resulted in something of a limp and me having to wear a knee strap. It hasn’t helped either that any masseuse I’ve contacted in the area hasn’t been of the sports variety.

Since that one last long run then, I’ve made it out only once more but at this late stage you’re more likely to hinder rather than help your chances. Instead, I have focused on a carb and fruit rich diet that most primates would be proud of. Tonight that’ll be topped off with a large pasta dish, probably whilst I watch Rocky IV for some extra eleventh hour inspiration.

Tomorrow morning will be an early one, helped slightly by the clock change. I’m still unsure what time though. The organisers have provided a shirt and stated anyone wearing their charity’s will have to get there around 7:30am to obtain a paper race number. Thus I’m undecided on which one I wear, especially since one should favour the cold conditions. Either way, at least a few hundred people will be seeing Forrest before and after, whilst the loris scarves shall be flying high.

Given that 18’000 people are running, the race’s start will be a frustrating and slow game of evasion. Using the mantra ‘any energy not used then can be used at the end’ I’ll keep it steady until five miles and check my progress. I know around nine miles is where it begins to hurt. For me, the base of the toes on my right foot begin to feel bruised, whilst one or two later is when the inside of both knees give me a more direct, shooting pain. Thankfully the end is largely downhill.

What happens on the day will largely affect my time rather than my preparation. I can promise that I won’t leave anything out there, and will have the thoughts of your donations and our loris relatives helping me through any dark passages. Once finished, I’ll try to post a Twitter update with a time that will appear on my page here. A wedding red wine besides, I’ve stuck to my word on alcohol so it’ll then be off to a pub lunch and celebratory drinks.

I’ll save my thank yous for afterwards. In the meantime, if you could share this or my Justgiving page it would be hugely appreciated; donating or not, you can help spread the word of slow lorises and the struggles they face.

28 Days Beforehand

My own personal battleground in the fight to save lorises

13.1 miles. I couldn’t do 1.1 when I started.

So… Five months since I signed up and the time has flown by. On many occasions I have doubted myself and my ability to finish this run, but with a little under a month left I am satisfied in saying I finally do feel like a long-distance runner.

Already it has been quite an adventure. From helping out at WOMAD to sitting at the bar with Forrest in Denmark, any low points have easily been bettered by the high ones. Currently I am comfortably running around eight miles, with my training consisting of one long run per week, plus one or two smaller ones in order to minimise injury risk. At present pace I am on the borderline of what could be considered a very good time, at the worst respectable.

What that border (or indeed target) is I’m going to keep quiet about, but in order to hopefully err more on the ‘good’ side I have not just quit smoking but [drumroll]… Alcohol. Or at least from October 1st I will be. Not to sound like an alcoholic, but having gone to uni, been backpacking twice and being at football most weeks (clue: they’re on the map), that is a fairly big deal for me. Although a temporary measure, it should ensure that I’m at peak fitness when the 28th arrives. Also as an added bonus, this will mean my girlfriend has to double her donation. Which brings me on to my next point…

A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has donated so far. After setting my initial target as £250, to sit on almost £500 this far in advance is truly humbling. No matter how big or small the amount, seeing an email titled ‘Someone’s made a donation on your page‘ in my inbox always brings a smile to my face (and also Forrest’s). Rest assured that all funds will be used in the best possible way in the ongoing fight to help save the slow loris.

Having been advised not to train up to the full thirteen (point one, that could make all the difference) miles, my next goal personal goal is to work up to around eleven whilst taking in as many hills as possible; if you can handle them, then it makes the flatter parts all the easier. I will also be taking on a more loris like diet with lots of fruit, carbs and proteins, obviously taking care to avoid such things as bugs and reptiles along the way. I’m not doing that raw egg thing either, sorry.

In the meantime, keep an eye on this site for Forrest’s final diary entry, whilst I myself will check in once or twice before the big day. The finish line is most definitely in sight.

WOMAD

No I am not picking my nose.

The home of all thing loris for an evening.

The World of Music Arts and Dance festival is an event which takes place in various locations across the globe, aiming to bring people together to celebrate musical diversity. One of these gatherings was last weekend at Bristol Zoo, where the Little Fireface Project happened to have a stall.

Not knowing how small Bristol Zoo is, I’d over enthusiastically booked an 8am train from London to allow myself ample time there. Following a bitter dispute with my snooze button at around 5:45am, some impromptu training eventually got me to Bristol on time… But still six hours ahead of anyone else.

Fear not though, for if there’s anywhere I know how to waste time, it’s a zoo. Especially when there are red pandas, lemurs, and of course slow lorises about. Having almost started an argument with someone who referred to the two pygmy slow lorises present as “horrible little things,” it was then time to move on to the main event.

I had done very, very little in the way of preparation. Unless purchasing a sweatband and wearing running shorts counts. After introductions, I was left to hurriedly produce some ‘business cards’ with this website’s details, whilst the team faced a few of their own technical gremlins (pun intended).

With crowds streaming in, I’ll admit to feeling a little stage fright. Such an experience is completely new to me, though thankfully I had Dr Nekaris herself on hand to take lead and I soon learned what was required. Time flew and petition signatures and ‘name a loris’ entrants arrived in greater numbers. Of particular popularity were face painting and mask making, resulting in dozens of little (or should I say big?) lorises running around the grounds.

Realising that standing behind a table I appeared only as an idiot unnecessarily wearing a sweatband, I put more effort into promoting Run Loris, Run! but it was perhaps the wrong environment. I was more than happy however, to talk lorises, raise awareness and encourage other donations. Considering there were two PhD students on our other tables, I don’t think I did too bad a job. My arts and crafts skills are awful anyway.

With rain setting in, we went from part-blocking Bristol Zoo’s biggest attraction to totally blocking their lions. Who are the ‘kings of the jungle’ now, eh? Possibly upset by the music, this also made for the somewhat unique occurrence of having lions repeatedly roar in my direction from roughly ten feet away when talking to people.

Face painting besides, the pace slowed and we were left to discuss other ideas, as well as lorises’ relationships with orangutans (not good), the Jungle Gremlins of Java production, and a quick demonstration of loris finding techniques in the wild. Hopefully one day I’ll see them as they’re meant to be.

I departed then, only a couple of cards lighter but content with my night’s work and having had a lot of fun. Plus with a potential lecture attendance and rumours of a video, the best should be yet to come…

A huge ‘terima kasih’ to those who have donated so far. Thanks to your support I have now doubled my initial target of £250, which will mean even more loris lives saved.

A Long and Winding Road

Meet Forrest

Meet Forrest. The only type of loris you should even think about owning.

It began in early April. Drunkenly ranting about animals as usual, a friend asked if I’d fancy a half-marathon.  I’d like to say that it was a handshake right there that tied me in like my tattoo and South America, but I instead gave it some headache infused thought the next day. The answer was a ‘yes.’

Having that week seen Jungle Gremlins of Java, my inebriated babble wasn’t of red pandas or lemurs for a change, but slow lorises. I was aware already aware of them and even tried finding wild ones myself in Southeast Asia last year, but I hadn’t known how big a fight they face. I’m not ashamed to say I shed some tears when watching the market scenes.

Slow lorises do face a unique threat. Like many other species they are hunted for traditional medicines and their habitats are being torn apart, but few other creatures also face the wrath of the internet. At a glance, over twenty million people have viewed Youtube’s videos of them being kept as household pets.

I can’t add much on the subject which hasn’t been mentioned elsewhere. What I can do though, is help in raising awareness whilst all donations will go directly to Dr Anna Nekaris of the Little Fireface Project, and on to Indonesia. Still having five months to go, with a little assistance I can hopefully achieve a lot.

My initial training efforts consisted of Marlboro tasting cardiovascular warmups, followed by twenty minute whinges around the streets of Dartford, then a consolatory cigarette on return. I needed help. Progress has been slow, but smoking is hopefully now a thing of the past and nine minutes per mile is no problem. I’ve even found out that a gait analysis has nothing to do with fences, doors or farms.

Although I cautiously signed up for the two hour plus bracket, I’ll be aiming to go under the hundred and twenty minute mark. Either way, it’s a good thing that Amazon and eBay don’t stock slow loris costumes. Should you know of any and their whereabouts, then please leave me in blissful ignorance as I probably would get drunk and order one.

Instead, I will proudly be donning a Little Fireface Project T-shirt whilst the thought of our furry little friends will help me kick on from my current maximum of four miles. Trebling that and then some is going to be a long and difficult road, but I’ll be content in the knowledge that I’ll be helping to save the slow loris one stride at a time.