Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 20

ROAD RUNNING Pssst, Want to Run a Guinness World Record? Check out the running section of the Guinness World Records and you will find a long list of weird and wonderful running bests. Quite a few of these records were recently improved in Canada, which prompts the question whether some of our talented runners in South Africa wouldn’t like to give them a shot. – BY SEAN FALCONER I While many of ‘Big City’ marathons around the world attract runners in costume who run these races to benefit a chosen charity, this race in Toronto is still something special. That’s because this was the ninth year that the race has officially partnered with Guinness World Records (GWR) to host official running record attempts, and that saw 22 athletes from all over the world line up to attempt to beat various GWR bests, with an official GWR adjudicator at the finish line to verify the records. GWR has similar partnerships with other races around the world, including the London Marathon in the UK and the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in Australia. he would attempt to run the fastest half dressed as a fruit. “It was between a fruit or a vegetable. If I had decided to run as a vegetable, I would have run as a carrot, but I went with the banana, not just for its streamlined silhouette, but because growing up in Kenya, I always loved bananas. It’s a staple food there,” says Melvin. field coach now based in California in the USA, who boasts a marathon best of 2:48 and a half marathon PB of 1:13:15. Some months earlier he had run a half marathon in California dressed as a banana, and this put him on the radar of international banana exporting company Chiquita, which decided to sponsor him with a new, streamlined banana suit and a round trip ticket to Toronto. Normally, athletes would have to document their entire race and then send the proof to the Guinness organisation for ratification, which can takes several weeks, but thanks to this partnership of GWR and races, all the successful records can be verified on the spot. And of the 22 record attempts on the day in Toronto, 14 were successful, with six in the full marathon and eight in the half marathon. Melvin’s goal in Canada was to beat the time of 1:19:13 for the fastest half marathon dressed as a fruit (male). He not only managed that fairly comfortably, coming home in 1:15:35, but his bright yellow costume caused a Twitter sensation. For much of the race he was up with the leading women, sticking with them till just past the 15km marker, making it look like the Canadian elites had hired a banana as a Pacer! One of the most eye-catching outfits was the banana suit worn by Melvin Nyairo, a Kenyan-born track and The new world record holder says that it was a New Year’s resolution to set a new Guinness World Record, and after looking at the GWR website, he decided World’s Fastest Banana 20 ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / www.modernathlete.co.za He says the record attempt went smoothly, except for the heat. “I wore a Nike compression shirt underneath the banana costume to prevent chafing, but it was very uncomfortable and hot in there. I sweated a lot! Still, racing on behalf of a reputable brand such as Chiquita has been an honour, and breaking a world record will be an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.” Unsurprisingly, to celebrate Melvin’s successful record, Chiquita has offered him a year’s supply of his favourite fruit. Of Cowboys and Carrots f you happened to be running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon & Half Marathon in Canada last October, you may have been forgiven for wondering if you had somehow ended up at a fancy dress party instead of a running event. Amongst the more outrageous costumes were runners dressed as a banana, a carrot, a cartoon character, a fireman, a tennis player, an astronaut, a cowboy, and even a Quidditch player. As in the game they played on flying brooms in the Harry Potter stories. And yes, this runner ran the whole way with a broom!