Greetings from way in the future! It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to blog. Last we heard, it was race week, and Eric and I were heading to London! Well, we’ve been back for almost two weeks! Between working those long shifts and wanting to spend the rest of my days outside/not in front of a computer, I haven’t really sat down to share the fun we had!
Mainly, the race fun. Because if “fun” doesn’t describe running in an elephant costume, I don’t know what does. On with the show!
For those unfamiliar with the Enormous Elephant Run, it’s a 5k/10k fun run to raise money to support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. DSWT is (mainly) a elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. They rescue elephants who have been orphaned as a result of poaching and raise them until they are old enough to return to the wild. Elephants are prized for their ivory, and poaching is certainly not going anywhere despite cracking down on it. With the elephant population dwindling, it’s so important to help save orphaned elephants.
Lucky for us as non-morning people, the race didn’t start until 10:30am. This gave us plenty of time to wake up and take advantage of the delicious breakfast that our hotel had. A ridiculous line up of fruit (grapefruit and pineapple for the win), yogurt, muesli, pastries, sausage, eggs, potatoes, etc. etc. SO GOOD and great for kicking off our days our playing tourist. Not so great for right before a 5k, ha. Eric had mentioned that he wanted to wake up early enough so that he could get a light breakfast in before the race – the “light” breakfast ended up involving at least two lemon muffins plus plenty of other food. I eyed his plate, but restrained myself from commenting. (Until now, ha!)
We left our hotel and headed to Clapham Common for the race – about 30-40 minus on the tube + walking. (For the record, I love London’s Underground system…it arrives often, is super clean, and very easy to use.) It was a bit more of a chilly day than it had been, in the 50’s with the sun shining. I didn’t appreciate the cooler temperatures en route to the race, but I was perfect once I put on the elephant suit!
We walked through the park (or the common? Not sure what Londoners call these places…) and spotted tons of people out enjoying their Saturday. Lots of outdoor workout classes and runners. Post-race, Clapham Common was full of picnickers. You know how to enjoy a good day, London. We weren’t totally sure where we were headed, but we spotted tent with elephants on them and realized we must be in the right spot! To get the full experience, I made sure Eric and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. We arrived our around 9:30am for a 10:30am start – early enough to secure us low bib numbers! Numbers 10 and 11 were ours, as were our elephant suits. (It was a fun run, so no timing devices, etc.)
We zipped into elephant suits and did what anyone in an elephant suit would do – we took lots of pictures! Selfies (we broke down and bought a selfie stick for this trip…), pictures with elephants, jumping pictures, pictures of Gatsby, etc etc. The usual.
Here’s a taste:
After hanging out for a bit and getting used to the elephant suits, the race directors called all the ellies (as the British seem to call elephants…) over for a warm up! A local yoga instructor led us through some various stretches and exercises – including jumping jacks, squats, the gravevine, and the standard stretches for calves/quads/etc. The race had a photographer on hand, so in case I ever wonder what I look like when doing a jumping jack in an elephant costume, I’ll have something to reference. I’m the last full body in the front row on the left. No idea what we’re doing…
Picture compliments of the Enormous Elephant Run.
After the warm up, we gathered for a group photo, as the race was attempting a Guinness World Record…they ended up with 292 runners in elephant costumes, although I admit I have no idea what the record is and if we beat it.
Eric and I are somewhere in the middle/front…and pictures again compliments of the run!
After the warm ups, it was time to line up for the start. The 10k started a few minutes before the 5k, so after lining up the 10k runners and doing a countdown, they were off! Then the rest of us lined up…probably the first race in a long time that I didn’t have any starting line jitters – I suppose it’s hard to be nervous in an elephant costume…
After another countdown, we took off as fast as running in a herd of elephants would let us! We headed up a slight hill and elephants were bopping all over the place. (Note: The head of the costume didn’t stay on top of your head very well, which I suppose it okay for ventilation purposes.) We had no race plan other than to keep it easy for Eric and to stick together. I told him to let me know when he wanted a walk break and that would be that. It was a beautiful day for a ridiculously fun run, and that’s all that matters.
We hung around 10 minute mile pace as the course took us on a paved path, a packed trail, and on the grass. Clapham Common is a lovely park and it was fun to run through as other people were out working out/enjoying Saturday morning. Volunteers pointed us in the right direction at the turns and yelled “Go ellies!!” I could get used to the British speak – “ellie” is super cute.
Otherwise, Eric and I chugged along – my hip/groin seemed to feel fine, and Eric looked strong. And I was having the time of my life!
We took a few walk breaks here and there, which Eric would always end by saying, “Ready to run again?” and I would say, “I’m always ready!!” ha. The race even had some fun signs along the course…elephant-related, of course!
The course seemed to wind a bit throughout the park – wouldn’t be so great for running a PR, but entertaining for a fun run. It was also cool to look across the park and see other elephants running…you don’t get to see that every day!
We rounded the final corners and headed back for the big red arch – the finish line! Eric was still holding strong, and we certainly cheesed it up a little bit at the end…
I think we look happy? haha.
The course was a little short, coming in at about 2.9 miles – oops! But it was a fun run and we’ll call it a win. 30:34 – that’s a costume run PR, right?
We received a medal after crossing the finish line which will hang proudly next to all those marathon medals I’ve got…
And because if you didn’t notice, Gatsby actually ran the whole way as well. In an elephant costume of his own. OBVIOUSLY.
You go, Gatsby.
When Eric and I finally decided to do the run, I had the great idea of Gatsby having an elephant costume of his own…because an elephant in an elephant costume would be so good, right? Of course, I’m not that crafty (my mom has made all of Gatsby’s clothes), so she took apart a beanie baby, made it a little bit smaller, and added some elastic to the front. Gatsby was the coolest kid in London on race day!
Just hanging with my elephant. In elephant costumes.
We hung out for a bit before heading out for brunch…with elephant costumes draping over our necks. Luckily, they’re pretty compact, so they fit well in our suitcases. I secretly wanted TSA to open a suitcase just to find an elephant costume sitting on top…I’m not totally sure what we plan to do with the elephant costumes, but if anyone needs something for Halloween (or your next marathon?), let me know!
So in short, we had so much fun running in elephant costumes! It was a fun way to get Eric to try running for a bit – running a 5k was all his idea (surprisingly not mine!), but the fun run in an elephant costume kept the pressure off. (Good for me since I just started running post-injury!) Eric said he would do another 5k, so I might have to hold him to that one. If you’re in a running slump, working to get someone to try running, or just want something different, I definitely recommend a fun/costume run – this PR chasing girl had a great time!
On a super positive note, the race raised over 50,000 pounds (that’s a lot more in dollars!) to help the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in their super important work. If you’re looking for other ways to help, you can run the next elephant run in Manchester on July 25th (if you’re in England…or just want an excuse for a trip!) or simply donate or adopt an orphaned elephant!
Don’t tell me you can resist this face…
Picture from the Enormous Elephant Run. Cuteness totally belongs to the elephant.