Leamington man and his feathered friend to run the London Marathon

Richard Walker and his ostrich Geoffrey
Richard Walker and his ostrich Geoffrey

A Leamington man will be running the London Marathon with a special friend this year - a giant ostrich called Geoffrey.

Richard Walker, 45, of Newbold Terrace East, decided to try out fancy dress after he found the first marathon he ran ‘too easy.’

Geoffrey taking a selfie near Warwick Castle

Geoffrey taking a selfie near Warwick Castle

But with Geoffrey, Richard said he is significantly slower, and he found the recent Warwick Half while ‘riding’ on his back to be tougher than usual.

He added: “I’ve run the Warwick Half Marathon in one hour 54 minutes - with Geoffrey it was two hours 40 minutes.

“When I run the marathon I’m aiming for five-and-a-half or six hours. The second half will really be a struggle. It’s going to be quite a challenge.”

He admitted his new companion attracts a lot more attention than when he ran on his own, especially from young children.

He said: “They’ll come up and say ‘excuse me, whose legs are those?’

“And some of the older kids will say ‘there’s a man under there isn’t there?’ It’s a lot of fun.”

But Richard is not just running the marathon with Geoffrey for the challenge.

It will be in the memory of his friend Elizabeth ‘Libby’ Sheehan, a professor at Warwick University, who died in 2014. She was looked after by Myton Hospices in the later stages of her life.

The money raised will go towards Hospice UK, as Myton had no more spaces for marathon runner when he applied. Richard is aiming to raise ‘as much as he can’ for the charity.

Richard was inspired by comedian Bernie Clifton, who rides his own ostrich called Oswald, to create Geoffrey.

Richard actually messaged Bernie on Facebook to ask him where to get an ostrich costume from, although he did not expect a reply.

But Bernie messaged Richard back, saying he made Oswald himself. Bernie gave Richard advice on how to create an ostrich, such as using the outlet pipe of a tumble dryer to create the neck, and using papier mache for other parts.

Richard and Geoffrey are still in training before the big day on Sunday April 23, and are still looking for donations.

Anyone wishing to donate to Richard and Geoffrey’s marathon should click here