Gorilla Organization


The Gorilla Organization, the international charity led by experienced African conservationists dedicated to saving the world’s last remaining gorillas from extinction. Our award-winning community-based approach to conservation promotes sustainable livelihoods, nurtures young conservationists of the future and empowers local people to tackle the main threats to the gorillas’ survival.

UK Reg Charity 1117131

Friday, 24 December 2010

Day 85 - Cool Runnings

More dog running today ... we have cats so I have to borrow next doors.

This time I 'borrowed' Archie and ran off for about 30 mins around the snow covered parks. This dog borrowing seems to be working well, I thought I would try with the cats, but they won't leave the lounge in this weather let alone run anywhere. These spikes are saving me at this time (phew)...
right thats it ...
one more sleep until Christmas.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Day 80 - Fly me to the 'Molly' Moon

More fun in the snow :)

Today I had a running partner ... 
... a furry running partner
... no, not a gorilla
... it was 'Molly' one of my neighbour's dogs 

You see a while ago I made the offer 'if you need any dogs walked/ran then let me know...' and today decided to put my feet where my mouth is (well you know what I mean).

Also time to try out the new spikes, and once equipped with the all important doggie treats and  poop bag off we go.

Initially Molly wasn't sure where we were going as she saw the rest of her pack head out to the car for their walkies; but once we made it out of our street she was fine and in the words of 'It's a Knockout' - 'Away we go!'. 

We went for a couple of laps of the football pitches, then over to the Rugby pitches and all the park round there. Past all the tobogganing children (and parents) - who seemed confused how I could run up a hill (did I mention spikes) with a doggie; we met several other doggies on the way and a few other runners and finally made our way back.

Molly was safely returned home in about an hour, and after a nice cup of tea (many many thanks) left her to sleep on the sofa - she looked a very happy sleepy doggie :)

The other news is that todays run has taken me over 100 miles in training which I am so chuffed about :)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Day 79 - Was that a Sasquatch?

That was an unintended break from training ...

I think that HellRunner and MudMan may have played silly beggers with my right ankle (little ouches) and so an unplanned break from training has given me a chance to recover. I was planning to have the break over Christmas ...so, Christmas came early this time.

Lets see if it worked...

With all this snow .. why not go for a ParkRun .... With only 33 in the field then I knew I would get a personal best placing regardless of the time.

Did I not mention ... last ParkRun before Christmas ... out comes the Gorilla suit.

A Sasquatch sighting?
Or was a Gorilla? 
The "ParkRun spot the Gorilla" competition

Stop trying to hide in the snow and start running ...
...finally here comes the Gorilla !!!

Yay I came 12th which was fantastic in just over 27 minutes - not bad since the weather was rather tricky and I was wearing a gorilla suit (btw it was Geraldine today).

After the run I went into town to see my good friend Dave Holby finish off 40000km rowing challenge around the world on a rowing machine  - check out http://www.worldrecordrow.com to read how he raised so much for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Well done Dave - you have inspired us all
Next year we will be running together in the London Marathon, so I had better let him have a few days off to recover before we start training.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day 65 - Why do Gorillas wear bananas on their feet?

This week has been spent recovering from the run through the 'Fetid Pit' of last week...

So, here is what it's taken to get my shirt 'mostly white' clean after the 'Bog of Doom'...
How many washes to 'wash that bog right out of my hair'?
As I said 'mostly white'- I don't think it will ever be back to normal again - and neither will any of the runners.  The assistant at Alton Sports and Katie both suffered from the cold  (OK Hypothermia seems like the best word for it).

Back to the training, today was 'Mud Man'  .... 'Slush Man' more like ...as the snow of the last week meant this week's event might not have been a goer...

But today, off we went to Pirbright for another 10am start...

Yet another Gorilla sighting
It's the second in the Asics 'Off Road Series' also known as the guys who make 'runs that are designed for goats'. This weeks challenges included going up and down really steep 'icy & slushy' hills - or was it the same hill about  5 times ... oh yes it was! and did I mention it was another 10k?.

So once I navigated the slush, the hills, the frozen mud and the doggies  (I really like the idea of running with doggies) I made it back to the finish line in 1:10:13 - not PB for 10k but given the weather I am really pleased not to have hurt anything while 'slippin' & slidin' ...

Now where's that Radox...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Day 59 - Hell Freezing Over

Fek Me it's cold! .... (well that's the child friendly version) - but thats how I felt first thing this morning.

Why - because today was my 'half-way' point in my training. I chose the HellRunner event as my 'I can run a half-marathon' challenge ... 
  • I knew it would be tough, 
  • I knew it would really push me
  • I knew it would hurt
So, what's it all about? Well HellRunner is 10-12 miles of rather extreme Trail running over grass, ruts, tracks, rivers, sand and MUD - I cannot over emphasise the mud (see below for 'Bog of Doom'). 

Before heading out I made sure I had all the running gear set-up and a complete change of clothing into the 'as warm as I can find' section of the wardrobe  - I also had the pleasure of my wife Helen and friend Nick's company for the day - they took lots of photos, cheered me on and helped me change at the end of the race as the cold hit me rather hard.

When we arrived we were in the 'cheap' (non-VIP) parking, so the first thing that greeted me was the remains of the previous day ...
I do hope he/she got home alright

Then as we walked up the hill the 'Bog of Doom' made it's appearance - it was huge and covered in ice (not the most inspiring).

Even the sharks were not going in the water it was that cold
Bring it on (says Gerald)
After much swearing I made it to the starting area where killed time with warm-ups and general gorilla-ness. Don't worry there was no chance I was doing he event as a gorilla, but anything to raise interest in my run next year (I have no shame).
Another Gorilla sighting

A lot of charity racers were there, with many runners supporting CLIC and a great chat with Katie who was running to support BLISS as she said 'two of her children were premature, and the charity helped her - this is her way of helping them' - which was really nice.

The lead-up to the race felt like the build up on a Roller Coaster ... once you're on it and buckled in - there's no turning back. 

5...4...3...2...1  - BANG .... off we go (mmm that smoke was so yummie for the first mile) - it started off as a normal run (almost ParkRun style) .... and then after a few Km the crazy hills started ... 'I should never use the internet when drunk' was the line I heard from one guy as he tried to rationalise why he was running today.

Repeat the 'Hills, ruts, sand' pattern for a while and you get the idea.

About 2 miles from the end was the 'Bog of Doom' ... now the real 'Fun' begins ...

Ok - so I saw a skull and went all Luvvie - what do you expect?

... we all piled into the 'flippin' freezing mud, and plodded on.

I must confess I was the one to start the chant of:
Then after that madness, up a hill (or two) then over a river twice (there and back again) into a giant sandpit which looked like a part-time motor-cross track and then finally back onto the path and back in ...

Did I mention COLD ..... ? to show how deep the mud was check out the 'plimsoll line'.

Shoulder deep in the Bog of Eternal Stench 

Once I finished (about 1:50 for the race) Helen & Nick caught up with me as I managed about three word sentences due to the fact I was core cold.; they helped me change into the warm clothes and fed me warm coffee until I stopped shivering - Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You, it really helped me return to normal (whatever that is). Then a bite to eat and head back home to 'Wash that Bog right out of my hair' and play hunt the blister plaster.

Now, a few hours later I feel elated that I managed to complete this event - and I now feel that my training is really paying off, and am not scared of taking on a half-marathon ... just not tomorrow. 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Day 58 - Put on a Happy face

Another week down, back to training at the weekend again (too busy in the evenings again).

So, Parkrun time again - getting up early on a Saturday and off to War Memorial Park ... but boy it's cold this morning. You know its cold when the most of the dogs the runners bring are Huskies (no joke).

Out with the WildMan shirt, the RatRace Buff and the compression ... er ... trouser thingies ... (OK tights) and go out and have a good run (I love the freebies from these runs, it's great), and I came back in with a time of 24:17 - a good 'warm' up for tomorrow's HellRunner.
However, the other side of the training hit me today ... it does get very lonely out there and its at that point you really appreciate the support of those who back you but you can feel doubts too...

  • Am I being taken seriously?
  • Do they realise why I'm doing this?
  • Do they care?

I know that sounds harsh so I feel I should back up that kind of statement ... each of the events I have selected in my training is there to push me ... they aren't easy and require a lot of preparation (both physically and mentally), and I want to come out of these events more confident and stronger as I prepare for 40Km in a gorilla suit in April. I know that at this point in time I cannot run a marathon today but I am trying my best to not let the gorillas down.

Why am I doing this - here are some of the reasons:

  • Helping People
    • The Gorilla Organization helps communities that are  hungry, they use the tagline "Empty stomachs have no ears." To start protecting the gorilla habitat it has to start with helping African people in need.
  • Re-building the environment
    • Almost  800,000 native trees have been replanted to help restore the forest.
  • I Hate stats!
    • If somebody can put a positive spin on the following stats, and why we shouldn't care then please let me know:
      • Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), found on the Nigeria-Cameroon border, estimated population 204-292. IUCN threat category: Critically endangered
      • Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), found in Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, estimated population 700. IUCN threat category: Endangered.

These are only some of the reasons for my support of this charity. I'd really like to know if you are supporting me.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Day 51 - Unleash the WildMan (And Save the Human Race)

Back into a race again today as part of training, also to ramp up the distance and see what happens.

Todays race was WildMan over near Guildford; it was a 15Km over Army ground - somehow I knew this was going to hurt. I initially had a choice between the 10 and 15Km runs; so thought I'd have a go at the longer one. 
Gerald gets an outing
Basically, we all did the 10Km lap, with a rather huge pool of water just before the finish/transition (thanks guys),  and then on to the second lap. This lap had rather interesting names on the map like 'A Ridge Too Far', and 'Hurt More Hill' ... and boy was it much more interesting:
  • Waste deep river crossing (brrr it was cold)
  • 6" wide carved river gullies down a steep hill  
  • Steep hills that were made goats not humans
  • Running on lots of sand not solid ground
Running down a more 'shallow' hill
Don't get me wrong - it was excellent fun and plan to do more in the series.
Final Straight ... and still smiling :)

My plan was to see if I can pace myself at about 6 mins per Km; just to show I can pace myself over a good distance - and with a time of about 1:32:39 for the race, I was really pleased that I managed it.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Day 44 - Perry-aid

Phew - what a busy week !!!

Work for 9-5, a production in the evening and then time to sleep - thats been about it; not that it's not been a productive week at all - far from it. Not the best for training, but time to adapt.

The evenings have been taken up with preparations for a production is 'Waiting in the Wings' by Noel Coward; and since it's set in a nursing home there is no chance for running about or fancy dance routines (surprise).

So, after a good run of the show last night I have to confess that the idea of running in the morning was not at the front of my mind - and I even took the batteries out the alarm clock so I would wake up when I was good and ready.

Guess what!!! - 7:15 am - 'Whoopee' - I'm awake !!!, oh well better get up then... get out 'the old bike' and cycle into town ready for a ParkRun. This week the ParkRun is back to the normal site, so no extra hills and my time was just under 24 minutes - which was a lot better than last week.

I might sneak in a run tomorrow though to play catch up (depends when the after show party ends).

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Day 37 - Breathe dammit

That was rough this morning ... the ParkRuns in Basingstoke use two sites and when something like a firework festival is being set up then they make use of 'Site-B'. For those that remember Jurassic Park - all the extra evilness was reserved for the second film - well the same applies here.

'Site-B' has evil hills (it feels like lots of them), and I'm sure they don't go down as much as they go up.

Looking down an evil hill

Well on the second lap all the yuckness of the cold for the last two weeks caught up and decided to sit on my chest ... not good - oh and my headset died (sadly my Sony Walkman does seem sensitive to sweat - much badness)

As I was slowing down to recover, another runner Matt stepped in did a huge amount of  motivational support and refused to let me slow down and keep breathing ... and it worked.

I really do owe him a lot today, as the motivational element kept me going, and he reduced his placing just to ensure I finished.

Thanks again Matt.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Day 31 - Gorilla sightings in the wilds of a Hampshire shopping centre

So judgement day ... how's my training doing?

Sometimes you are grateful for hour changes, and today was one of those days ...  I am not a morning person, and an extra hour in bed (for free) was most helpful. So, a 9am start (with my body thinking its 10am) in my home town was a perfectly reasonable idea.

Yes, today was Festival Place 5k, and also my first outing this year as a gorilla.

The race allowed us all to run round a shopping centre (normally a pleasure reserved for small children). The only way they could do this was before all the shops opened.

So, before we start, lets do the pre-checks...

Warm-up, legs first ...

... then the arms ...

... check the running clock ...
...finally check for anyone famous in the crowd (Cllr. Keith Chapman)

Seconds to go ... 

A spectator caught sight of the gorilla loose in the wild (Many thanks John)

Back to Festival Place ...

... and celebrate

Tell, you what though ... you can get really peckish on these runs ...

The people of Basingstoke were really fantastic, and cheered us all on. I especially liked the wonderful reception by all the children calling 'Come on Gorilla Man!', they all seemed to love it.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Day 24 - Flapjack is a food-group (honest)

My!, that was a busy 24 hours....

  • grew new feet
  • become a lot hairier & climbed a sky-scraper (ish)
  • ran for the love of flapjacks!

OK, in English ... what does that mean?

Well, my old Nike trainers (good friends for the last 18 months) have to go, I realized after last weeks Blacks 10k that apart from slipping on the mud a bit that the tips of the toes on my right foot were bruised (I decided not to upload a picture). This is not good (and rather sore), so after  pitch inspection I discovered that they were rather snug about my toes so unfortunately they have had to go :(

Since the weather is not going to improve (it's nearly winter dammit), and sliding on leaves is rather too close to sliding on mud (not to mention HellRunner next month) I decided I needed some help, so I went to Fast Forward to get their help. I had a chance to make use of their gait analysis tools too, very odd seeing how you run ... I finally bought a Salomon Trail shoes (you'll get to hear about those later).

We had to dash home afterwards to get ready for a friends Sci-fi wedding. It was a really well fantastic event, and very touching how they integrated all the elements into the ceremony. As part of the day they asked for attendees to wear some element of Sci-fi as part of the day ... how could I resist ... with the head of Geraldine, some gorilla gloves and a blonde wig my wife and I turned up to the reception as 'King King' and 'Fay Wray'.

Here's a picture of 'King Kong' dancing with the bride

Finally back to the flapjacks, another of those 'run to somewhere and get fed/watered' days. This time it was to see Petra and family and we were offered some of her fantastic flapjacks. So armed with my new trail shoes and the 'My Tracks' application on my phone I headed off for a run (with my ever supportive wife following on bike).

We got there, had a great chat (did I mention flapjacks?), they gave us a lift back to 'The Way Inn' for a smashing lunch (mmm Roast pork nom nom nom) and then rather fuller we made our way back home.

I had never used the My Tracks application before, but will in the future - it really is very good giving great feedback on how you are performing as well as mapping where you went.

So, according to the gadget today I ran 14km in about 1:20 (admittedly it was in two parts though) which makes me feel better for tracking progress this week.

I realize the next couple of weeks are going to be hectic with work and an amateur show; so training is going to be sporadic - but I hope a combination of Parkrun and Festival Place 5k (next Sunday) will help.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Day 18 1/2 - Time for bed said Zebedee

Just before I head to kip - I received the results from yesterdays Blacks Trail Run.

I came out of 223 out of a field of 488; not bad for my first 'official 10k'.

Night all...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Day 17 - Part 2

Ok finished in 56:10 - not too shabby (Peter my 5k was 27mins - so no PB today) - the last 3k I befriended another runner Michael who was slowing down and kept him going (never give up - never surrender) as its a team sport.  Ok the winner did it in 39 minutes (and it was a girlie that beat everyone else)  - wow!

The views are superb, but with every good view there has to be a hill and a valley - and trust me there was - I will never look at Lord of the Rings again the same as they climb the steps to Mordor (Monster killer steps).

Note to self - muddy tracks and running trainers equals slippage, oh and here are a picture of the two cheeky monkeys and a gorilla - cheers guys :)

Now to get back to learning lines ...

Day 17 - Monkeys its cold!

Today its the Blacks 10k, up near Luton. Boy its cold!

To help I brought Geraldine - not for running today just for companionship. While typing this I met Joe and Al (two cheeky monkeys) who stopped by on their bikes.

More later - I need to warm up...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Day 12 - Sickness sucks

So, all quiet for the last few days - what happened?

Well Sunday, was rather full. Went to the hospital again to see my friend (who is doing a whole lot better) so I missed out on the 'Calamity Jane' auditions - but I gather my friends had a great time and congratulations to all those got parts and commiserations to those that didn't.    

After that I went up to the 'Gorilla's Secret Dance Party' with Dave (he's going to keep me in-check with training so I don't do any to stupid - or at least be there to video me being stupid as the case may be).

While I was up there I caught up with Sam and grabbed a spare gorilla suit (from now it will be referred to as Geraldine). Finally while at the Dance Party I have to recommend one of the acts 'MC Xander' who created live audio loops including a live-mix of 'You can call me Al' - really amazing.

In the mean time my body was conspiring against me, I felt a little off in the afternoon but thought I would ride it out.

Yeah, Right! Monday morning - yukk, attack of lurgy and that takes me up to now. Hopefully get things together for the weekend as i'm running in the 'Blacks Single-Track 10K'.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Day 9 - Parklife AROO AROO

OK time for a Parkrun (well it is Saturday), which seems to be booming here in Basingstoke. Today there were 152 runners, I'm not sure if that includes someones Dad on a bike, or a baby being pushed the 5k? Actually, I'm not sure they may '10 runs' t-shirts that size ....

Today was a chance to wear my Spartan Race T-Shirt - I know it's sad, but I really enjoyed that race and the  Tee feels good (anyone know a good therapist?)

And no, I didn't race with my eyes shut - its just I always seem to blink when a photo is taken - if only I could use those powers for good.

Today was not a Personal Best (that's not a surprise), but took 30 seconds off last week which is not bad (Something must be working).

Once we all recovered from the run, that is the post run coffee in town or as I call it Breakfast! I finally snuck in to the Sports Centre for another quick bike ride. I set the profile to something out of an 80s bombing run arcade game and set off.

I managed 5Km in about 13 mins with the settings set to 9 (I have no idea how those rate), but it felt like a good work out (Ok well I was has hot and sweaty at least).

That's it for today's training, unless the car breaks down :)

Day 8 - Goldilocks Technique

Finally made it back to the gym (I snuck in while they weren't looking) and get back to some training.
Still not enough time for a full training session (another hospital trip) A bit of a mad mix today - 2.5km each of running, rowing and cycling. I forgot how much rowing hurts - how Dave (http://www.worldrecordrow.com/) manages every day I have no idea?

Got me woken up though ... crikey. Better get some kip there's a Parkrun tomorrow ....

Btw for those that are interested, my hospital friend is now is a lot better - hopefully she'll escape hospital food middle of next week.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Day 6 - Earthworm Gym

Finally got back to the Sports Centre - and found there was a Circuit class available this evening - oh well why not. It was only a 45 minute class whats the worst that can happen?

Forgot to mention, I haven't done a circuit class for the last two months - and I can feel it (owww).

Once I had turned the color of a tomato (traditional for these classes) I went for a short 1 mile run (I know its only 1/26 of a marathon - but its a start).

After the gym it was a quick trip down to Winchester to catch up with my friend who's in hospital there; she's doing well (considering none of this was planned). I gather she woke up today and saw the gryphon we left yesterday - it made her smile (job done). It's gonna take a while for her to recover (doctors using months not weeks) but she looked so much better with a stack load of drugs and fresh blood (no she's not a Twilight fan - actually i'm not sure)

Forgot to say, I saw Kat while at the gym who asked about my friend in hospital, it caught me by surprise but was rather touching.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Day 5 - Reality bites

No real training today - there were plans, but other more pressing issues came to a head.

We got a message today that a very good friend has been taken to hospital and when we arrived to see her at hospital this evening she was in theatre (EEK!)

We dropped off an old friend to look after her (see below) - and i'll be back to see her over the next few days, all other plans for the next week will take lower priority.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Day 4 - Rest(ish) day

Right now to tackle work ... well actually not today - I've taken the day off to sort out lots of things for the Marathon. I also appeared to have emailed most of the planet.

I sent the email round work for my colleagues on my last project, and the response has been really really great - I am at this point about 11% towards my goal of £1350 - thank you everyone.

Still lots to do, and must catch up with Kat, Nicola and Jo down at the Sports Centre - I am so going to need their help.

No running today - it's a chance to regroup and sort out the next few weeks, a combination of 'work, rests and plays' (sorry bad pun)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Day 3 - Time to get out there

What horrible weather today :( you know its bad when the ! icon comes up on the phone.

This didn't put me off though - armed with helmet, bike and a bottle of Lucozade I headed out for a bike ride. The destination ... relatively unknown ... just seeing where I can get to. Navigation was rather simple - 'hmm where does this go ...'

It actually worked - I had about about a 15 mile bike ride around the town.

I must confess about 2 miles from home I stopped off to see Alex and Iain, had a great chat and also snuffled a cup of tea on the way.

That may be my training plan - exercise in the direction of a friends house; catch up and recover then head back home ... we shall see.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Day 2 - Part II

Ok ParkRun was not my best, just over 25mins for the 5Km -  I've done better. They had cake - makes it all so much better. Have a good photo of me though wearing my 'Great Gorilla Run' T-Shirt though (worn with pride)

Met several people who are doing the VLM - so don't feel quite so alone, also caught up with Dave 'the rower' and discussed our plans to run together {I BLAME YOU :) } also intial plans or Gorilla based antics around Basingstoke to help raise funds for the event.

Looked at the schedule for the next few months decided I need to add some 10k/20k events in before the end of the year - so have decided to have a go at the http://www.blackstrailrun.co.uk/ on 17th October.

However, before that is some very important weight lifting exercises at Milestones - aka Octoberfest ... mmm that'll be nice.

Day 2 - Ok that'll teach ya

Right so I'm awake early on a Saturday (not right I say). Last night felt odd  - I know I mentioned to fiends that I 'may' be doing the London Marathon next year, but now I really am!!!

Oh boy!!!

Ok so this morning, do a Parkrun, yep that sounds like a good idea, I am sure there will be others there with success stories about getting into the marathon, and others who were not so lucky.

After that ... hmm... I think I'll catch up with Dave Holby who 'got me into this mess' in the first place (that's the story for another day) . He's also running in the Marathon next year, he'll be supporting Breakthrough Breast Cancer - a fantastic Charity that he has been raising funds for over the last two years on his World Record Row around the planet on a rowing machine.

But first, a cup of tea for my every faithful companion on my 'mad' races - Helen; I apologise now for any chaos, stress and confusion this event may cause. She really is my best friend as well as my wife, and I'm so sure I won't be able to take part without her help. Love you lots :o).

See you later....

Friday, 1 October 2010

Day 1 - The Saga begins

OK at 16:26 my friend Sam at the gorilla organization sent me the following message:

Hi Martin,

I can confirm your place in the 2011 London Marathon. I have attached a fundraising pack to this email. If you can set yourself up with a Justgiving site that would be great!
Let me know if I can be of any assistance with this.

I also have a collection tin if you need it.

Kindest regards,

So now that's it - I'm in.... holy heck ... right stuff to do ... plan etc.

I plan to run in the 'full fur' so to speak - oh and have never run a marathon before, and watching RunFatBoyRun may not be deemed training.

But where to start? Hmm, Lots of ideas - people to talk to ... oh well that's it for day 1....