This Saturday, I found myself running 8km around London, with over 500 other people, each of us dressed in a full gorilla suit. Our stated aim being to raise as much money as possible for the Gorilla Organization, a charity dedicated to the conservation of the last remaining mountain gorillas and their habitat.
As I sweated my way through the crowds of tourists lining the South Bank, I couldn’t help noticing the number of smiling faces, high fives and photos our presence was generating. Although not every one of these people will go on to connect with the plight of the mountain gorilla, all those surprised and happy faces equate to a lot of warm feelings.
I have no idea whether these warm feelings are towards the runners, the charity, or the gorillas themselves. In truth, it’s probably a mixture of all three, but without our furry costumes, I am pretty sure we would have seemed much more of an annoyance to the passers-by trying to go about their business. However, as it is, many of them will be going home with a small gorilla shaped memory and a tiny seed of awareness lodged somewhere in their brain.
Reflecting on the power of dressing up, I headed back to Brighton with a train full of rugby fans destined for the Japan v South Africa match. And there in front of me, amongst the numerous green Springbok shirts, were four people, suffering great inconvenience, all wearing inflatable sumo wrestler costumes. Suffice to say, I supported Japan. What’s not to like?
By Tony Felstead