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Norwich runner to run ultramarathon dressed as rhino

Norwich runner raises money for a charity which works to conserve the endangered species Credit: PA Images

A runner from the Norwich area will complete a 54-mile ultramarathon in South Africa dressed as a rhino to raise money for a charity which works to conserve the endangered species.

Vincent O'Neill will take part in the Comrades Marathon, which will take him on a mainly uphill route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

The runner will wear the 8kg outfit throughout the race on June 2, to raise funds and awareness for Save the Rhino International.

He has so far raised more than £2,200.

The 43-year-old, from Tacolneston, near Norwich, will have to endure heat, limited vision and restricted movement because of the costume.

Vincent, known as Vinny, has 12 hours to complete the Comrades course, at which point the race organisers close the finish line.

Vinny has supported Save the Rhino since 2005, when he completed a team rhino costume challenge with a relay run-swim-cycle from London to Paris.

He also holds the record for being the fastest marathon rhino costume runner, having completed the 2012 Virgin London Marathon in four hours, 17 minutes and 27 seconds.

Save The Rhino said Vinny's run comes as rhino poaching hits crisis point, with 350 rhinos having been poached this year, meaning one rhino is killed for its horn every 10 hours.

Vinny said: "Rhino poaching isn't just South Africa's problem - we care all across the world. Running the Comrades in rhino is my way of raising awareness and funds for rhino protection efforts."

Cathy Dean, director of Save the Rhino, said: "We need more heroes like Vinny. The cash they raise provides vital support for anti-poaching units in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and other key rhino areas."

Save The Rhino aims to deliver material, long-lasting and widespread benefits to rhinos and other endangered species, ecosystems and to the people living in these areas through field projects and education.