A Salford runner is no novice when it comes to pounding the streets, and he’s now bidding to raise funds for Chester zoo whilst dressed as an animal.
Brendan Rendall started running as a bet, completing a half-marathon in 2006. This has now become a passion helping causes all around the globe.
He has previously raised money in Malawi, Libya, Zambia and more in an attempt to turn his life-changing hobby into one that can positively impact the world.
His current venture is for Chester Zoo. The entertainment giants put out a plea during lockdown for money, and Brendan didn’t think twice about it.
Brendan said: “Yes, so this challenge started on the I think it was the seventh of November. And it’s going to end on the 31st of January. And so it’s running 10 kilometres every day so six miles every day.
“I’m recovering from COVID, I had it in March so my stats after each run aren’t great. So I’m open to having days off, because I think you’ve got to be really sensible. And then I just add those miles at the end.”
When asked about why he chose Chester Zoo he stated that he’d visited the zoo on many occasions with his work in special needs departments in primary schools.
He added: “And then spending a lot of time in running in Africa. You know, they play a vital role in conservation. So I kind of thought, you know what, we’ve got a tough year, we want something to smile about, make people laugh, inspire people, and then make, you know, make a difference to Chester zoo.”
Brendan also voiced his appreciation for the Quays and Manchester as the locations have helped him start the challenge even in lockdown.
He explained: “I’m really lucky to live here at the Quays, obviously, I come straight out my front door, and I’ve got like, you know, no roads. So I kind of just go with different routes how I feel, there’s a great loop round here. That’s exactly six miles, It’s lit up, so I kind of stick to the same route.
“And then at the weekend I vary it. I try and go into Manchester because obviously in the week, I’m running in the dark so it is lit up here. But on the weekend, I try and go along the river into Manchester and do a little bit of a loop there.”
Aside from the routes, one of the challenges of this campaign has been the costumes themselves, with six and counting (including an elephant, parrot rhino and penguin) in his locker you’d think he stick with those, but Brendan was very keen to point out there are more in the pipeline.
His first fundraiser for Chester Zoo was in the summer, and the costumes have caused him difficulties that he hadn’t faced previously:
“Yeah, it’s a different challenge. Obviously running across Africa was tough. That was crazy, for three months I ran in the heat. But this is like a different challenge because it’s that motivation mentally to get up and run around the same route every day.
“And then the costumes, especially in June and July, when I was doing the marathons, running in these costumes with the heat meant excessive sweat. So then you have all the chafing problems. So that was a new, a new area to cope with.
“But it is tough running in the costumes because they’re restricting my leg stride. But then when every other person smiles then it makes it all worth it because it’s all really positive.”
Brendan has carried a successful fundraiser so far, and he explained that despite all the difficulties with the heat and even the cold coming into December, the support he has received for his efforts have spurred him on:
“Yeah, Chester Zoo have been, you know, so supportive from day one. And, you know, we’ve sort of had a laugh, and we’re in a lot of correspondence. And I think they’re just really grateful.”
“The support I’ve been blown away with Salford and Manchester, like all through the summer, and with this one already, you know from people clapping on the balconies to cars beeping to the tram beeping. It’s kind of like, it’s a crazy kind of little world that I go into with these costumes.”
“I just think if it just takes us out of like, the COVID world for five minutes with a stranger then it’s worth it.”
With Brendan previously raising £35,000 for a school in Malawi by running across Africa, I was curious as to how he discovered his passion for hitting the roads and getting fit, he delved into his earlier life.
“So I was one of those typical students that came to Manchester came from a small town, you know, then I came to this big city with clubs and clothes shops. I was certainly wasn’t a runner, I did a fashion degree. I was out every weekend most nights.
“And then it was a bet in 2006 to run a half marathon. And I took it seriously. I used to get up in the dark because I didn’t think I knew how to run and I literally went from post to post. I hated it. I thought what was the point? And then I completed the run. And I remember crossing the line that day and thinking ‘wow, I’ve done something amazing’.
“And then I started to see the benefits running gave me. Mentally it gave me a focus, it gave me structure, it gave me discipline. And that meant that then sort of paralleled on to my everyday life, so I looked up to all my debts and that was the start of this incredible journey of running adventures and charity.”
With all his running achievements I thought I’d put his memory to the test and ask him what his proudest moment was throughout all his campaigns.
He explained: “That’s a really good question. There’s loads and loads of proudest moments. I think for me, probably the proudest moment was seeing the school.”
“My run the length of Malawi raised 35,000. And then to complete that building to get those children a chance to have an education is something to be to be really proud of. So that was probably my proudest moment.
He then detailed why the running in particular was one of the reasons for his pride in that event.
“In terms of running, I think to run across Africa from coast to coast, mentally pushed me to the absolute limits. From the deserts of Namibia, to 40 degree heat, to wild animals, to camping – I really did push out of my comfort zone, and we all have that extra level and that was immense.
“I ran a marathon pretty much every day I ran out of the coast of Namibia. It was 2474 miles. And it took me 98 days. And then I finished 98 days and I ran into the Indian Ocean. So I ran through Libya, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.”
Many of us have learned lessons over lockdown, and he stated how building that school and reflecting over this period and shown him how much we can take things for granted.
He said: “I’ve been very, very fortunate, and I’m very lucky to have spent a lot of time in countries in Africa, and around the world. I’ve travelled 52 countries. And I think that we really do take education for granted.
“I think it’s, it’s such a gift to have. But I think sometimes when you’re at school, you don’t take it very seriously. Because you don’t, unfortunately, I was one of those people I left for two GCSE. You don’t know any different.”
With Brendan raising just over £12,300 so far, I asked him what message he would give to the public to reinforce his campaign and thank the people that have helped him so far.
He said: “I would just say to people that you know, first of all, if you see me out with costumes, thanks for smiling and waving. If you read my backstory, then all of us can do anything like in terms of endurance challenge, I’m not doing anything superhuman. Anyone can go on and do these things with determination.
“And I just think that if you just think of what a coffee costs, three or four pounds, it doesn’t matter what you donate, if everyone just gave a thought like “instead of having a coffee today I’ll donate”, it really does go to making a huge difference to programmes in Chester zoo.
“It costs 1.6 million to run a month. It’s a huge zoo. So it’s kind of vital that we, as the public, try and do our little bit. So if you can donate, I just say please just chuck in a few quid.”
With all the money raised, Brendan will be hoping this event will be able to enable Chester Zoo to reopen with a ‘roaring’ success.
You can donate to his cause using the link here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brendan-rendall3
You can also find out more information on Brendan’s progress on his website here: http://brendanrendall.com/