Colin Hale is the familiar face of the Vitality Bath Half Marathon no one has seen for 15 years!
Such anonymity will be particularly useful on March 13 as the West Country gardener plans a full scale ‘mugging’ on his way round the course.
But Colin is no stranger to relieving the public of money. He does it annually at Bath’s ever popular 13 miler all with the blessing of grateful organisers.
This year’s race will be no exception and Colin, 55 from Willsbridge, will be suitably dressed for the occasion as befitting the ‘King of Costumes.’
And the tireless charity fundraiser is upping the ante for his 31st successive Vitality Bath Half Marathon, running the event on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support, the race’s Lead Charity for 2016.
So, his alter ego for a couple of hours will be Macmillan’s distinctive green ‘Muggy’ costume.
“I just hope it doesn’t rain because that would be a nightmare,” chuckles Colin, hooked on the Bath race ever since his debut in traditional vest, shorts and running shoes in 1985.
“It’s heavy and the costume is flat on the top and the last thing I want is to have a birdbath up there. But it is packed out with sponges.”
And the pair are no strangers. They completed a marathon last autumn while Muggy’ currently resides in Colin’s living room as the countdown to Bath 2016 continues.
“I sometimes run up and down the road in the costume where I live and that amuses the neighbours,” he confirms.
“But visibility is not brilliant. I can only look out of the left eye and I am breathing through the same eye.
“My neck still isn’t right from the marathon because I was in a harness trying to look left and right. But I love it because the crowd support is absolute amazing.”
Besides, Colin, who has raised nearly £25,000 for a multitude of charities with his efforts, is a dab hand at improvising since being convinced running inside a costume is the way forward. He’s been an ice cream, clown, even a Dalmatian dog.
“I nearly tripped up a few times because the tail was too long,” he recalls smiling.
Colin caught the running bug through his brother Steve. “I watched him race and I thought ’I can do that.’
“It’s a bit like Pringles; once you start, you can’t really stop. You get a good time and next year you think ‘I can try and beat that.’
Colin clocked a personal best of 1 hour 46 minutes running without fancy dress. His quickest time with a costume is just over two hours.
So, when did he opt to make life tougher for himself? “I saw a few bananas go past and the odd carrot so I just thought ‘I’ll give it a go.’
“The first one was the Dalmatian for Bath Dogs and Cats Home. I have a book of all my runs going back to 1985 and it’s a bit like ‘This Is Your Life.’
“The funniest part is at the drinks stations. People have no idea who is actually inside the costumes, especially the mug.
“They ask me would you like a drink but how are we going to get it to you? So, I have got to take the outfit off, have the drink and then put the costume back on again.”
And any Paula Radcliffe moments? “There are plenty of toilet facilities,” he replies. “But I try not to take too much fluid on board at the start because you get nervous anyway.
“Every race is a challenge but I get such a buzz and can’t wait until March 13 already.
“The support you get in Bath is brilliant, probably because it is a two-lap race and people clock you second time round.
“I’ve ran the London Marathon but in some ways the atmosphere for me is better in Bath.”
If you want to join Colin and thousands of other runners there are a few options to still enter this year’s Vitality Bath Half Marathon.
Over 115 official charities are involved with the Vitality Bath Half Marathon 2016 and some charities have limited places available. Anyone wishing to run should go to www.bathhalf.co.uk/charities/list-of-charities/ for a list of all the 2016 charities, and contact their chosen charity’s events team directly.
Macmillan Cancer Support is the lead charity for the 2016 Vitality Bath Half Marathon and is looking forward to a record-breaking year with over 1,500 runners. Please get in touch with the events team by email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.macmillan.org.uk/bathhalf for further details and if you want to either secure one of the last remaining official charity places, or join Team Macmillan with your general place.
Go to www.bathhalf.co.uk for further race details, like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BathHalfMarathon and follow @bathhalf #bathhalf #runbath on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news about the Vitality Bath Half Marathon.