The Geordie man in the big pink dress, is just one of more than 3,000 participants in the Manchester 10k next month – but one of very few who’ll be running the quarter marathon in a dress.
MM caught up with Colin Plews, the 6ft 6″ rugby-playing ex-serviceman, to find out why he’s going to be tackling not only the Manchester race but also the London Marathon inthe hot pink frock.
“Well, I’ve been doing it for about a year now,” Colin said.
“About a year and a half ago one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. To watch her go through what she did was horrendous, and you feel kind of useless because there’s nothing you can do.
“She went travelling for a couple of years and it was only by chance that while she was back in England for a few months before she went travelling again, she discovered a lump.
“She said she’d go and get it checked before she left again and it’s lucky she did, because she wouldn’t be here now if she hadn’t.”
Speaking about why specifically he’ll be running his third race in a pink frock – which weighs an astounding 2.5 stones – Colin said it all began with a talent show at work.
— LondonMarathon (@LondonMarathon) April 15, 2015
“I work in a residential home in Newcastle and every year we’ll put a show on for the residents,” he said.
“A few years ago we put on Stars in their Eyes and the girls persuaded me to wear that dress. I did the Great North Run in it last year and it’s kind of caught on a bit, it’s just gone berserk!
“It sort of started out, ‘ah, I’ll have a laugh, I’ll do it in fancy dress’ and now I’m kind of resigned to the fact I’m the guy in the big pink dress!”
Colin will be running the London Marathon next Sunday in the bizarre outfit for the national charity Breast Cancer Campaign. On his JustGiving page, donations currently stand at well over £3,500 but offline contributions bring the total up to almost £6,500.
“To be honest, I was stupid from the beginning – I couldn’t just enter in a small pink dress could I?” he said.
“But, you know what – it’s worked, it really has. The publicity you get, the recognition, the awareness, and the donations have been flying in.”
He told MM that since his campaign started a couple of months ago, he’s had attention from all corners of the world – including Holland, where a woman keen to support his campaign has donated a hand-made neon wig in advance of his London run next week.
He admitted that he’s never run a full official marathon before in his life – either in his full dame outfit or not – though he did get a chance to do a practice run wearing the costume at his South Shields home a few weeks ago.
Colin said: “The park run there is where I go every Saturday to do a bit of a run, so I’ve done it a couple of times there. The reception has been fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, you get the odd quip here and there, but you know, I’m a big bloke, I can handle it!”
And just a couple more weeks after his London appearance, the Newcastle carer will be heading for the North West to join the Great Manchester Run.
“I was just going to run it normally, but they all said, ‘no, you’ve got to go down in the gown!’
“But I’ve heard the atmosphere’s amazing. I really have, I’ve heard it’s actually like a cattle market – you’re in, you’re running, you’re out – but it’s supposed to be so much fun, so I just can’t wait.”
To contribute on Colin’s JustGiving page, click here
Image courtesy of Patrick Lauke, with inset from Big Pink Dress, with thanks