Tom Harrison, who previously crawled the London Marathon dressed as a gorilla, will now walk the entire race backwards in support of Ukrainians affected by the ongoing war with Russia. Harrison, a project manager, hopes the “quirky” and “eye-catching” idea will encourage donations to the Red Cross, who will benefit from the funds raised. Harrison has already exceeded his fundraising target of £2,000, required to secure a place in the marathon.
Harrison walked 263 miles in 15 days from Lands End in Cornwall to Parliament Square in London in 2022, five years after completing the marathon as “Mr Gorilla”. He will start the race at the back to avoid potential collisions with other runners. The 46-year-old says he chose the goal as a way of “looking over my shoulder for Ukraine”. He says most Ukrainians will know someone who has been killed during the war and believes they still need support.
Harrison hopes his efforts will bring attention to the cause and not just be a one-off event. He plans to put an explanation on his back so that other runners can understand what he is doing. Harrison raised most of the funds through cake sales and hopes that further donations will continue to be made. The Red Cross will use the money to aid Ukrainians affected by the war that has been ongoing since 2014.
Harrison’s efforts are part of a wider humanitarian response, as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to widespread human rights abuses and displacement since 2014. Russia annexed Crimea in that year and a separatist war erupted in the Donbass region. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of aggressive tactics, while Moscow denies involvement in the conflict. The UN estimates that the conflict has caused more than 13,000 deaths and that 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The EU and other partners have pledged more than $26bn in humanitarian, development and security aid.