Hello this is Emmanuel, I am the Gorilla Organization’s Rwandan Programme Manager.
This coming Saturday is the annual Great Gorilla Run in London, UK. Hundreds of people dress up as gorillas and run around the city to raise money for our projects out here in Africa – it is an amazing event.
Three years ago I was given the fantastic opportunity to travel to London and take part in the Great Gorilla Run – it was one of the best days of my life!
When I was told that I was going to London It was difficult to imagine what it would be like. And when I was told that I would be running 7kms around London dressed in gorilla suit … well, that was another point. I think my neighbours still remember seeing me running through the streets of Gisenyi, my town in Rwanda, as I trained for the Great Gorilla Run.
September arrived and I travelled more than 6000km to reach London. I was really excited to see what this town, which I have heard so much about, was really like!
The D-day arrived, and I met all the other gorilla runners at Minster Court and started putting on my gorilla suit. I was happy to wear number 700, the number of Mountain gorillas living in the world at the time.
Until then, I was confident with my training, my thoughts were to win it. However, I realised that this was not going to be an easy run. As I waited at the start it was so strange seeing many different people excited about dressing as gorillas and trying to imitate their behaviours by either eating a banana, roaring or charging!
Each time, I was wondering what would happen if they saw real gorillas. Or, if those gorilla statues at Minster court were real gorillas seeing them!?! Surely they would be delighted to see a human struggling to become a gorilla!!
Once the kick off was given, I started running following others and holding a collection bucket, which I was using to collect money from viewers enjoying the Sunday sun! I can remember being stopped by a couple, probably, they wanted to check if I was a real gorilla and to prove this I charged!!! They ran away but immediately came back and put some coins into the bucket before wishing me success!
Although I had studied the map of the run, I couldn’t locate myself between the high buildings. It was difficulty to see the sky and the sun which is how we traditionally find our way in Rwanda. I was simply following others!!
I can not remember how many bridges I crossed, I could not even remember how long it took me, what I remember is that I did it, it was amazing and raised I collected £75 in my bucket during the run!!
Can you spot me in the photo!