My VLM 2010: Redhead (5:43.22)

My fifth London Marathon and 19th in total - setting a new Guinness World Record!


Posted: 26 April 2010
by Redhead

A New Guinness World Record
The longest crochet chain whilst running a marathon - 77.4 metres

So, another day dawned (well it didn't actually as it was still pitch black...). My alarm went off at 4am and it was all action stations! My taxi was due at 5:30am so I had lots of time to prepare everything and we managed to get to Blackheath before the road closures came into force.

We went to the same little cafe, which opens at around 6:30am, for coffee and pain au chocolat then got a newspaper and went to a cafe further up the road for another coffee before heading off to the Green Start. Having a routine worked really well as it meant I didn't have to worry about anything and could just relax. I was really stressed the night before and had convinced myself that I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon - never mind do any crocheting - so it was important that the morning itself went smoothly.  

At 8:15am we headed off to the start. The usual balloons were lined up but the one of the motorbike was the most striking (and the largest I've ever seen). We wandered over to my start pen where Mike attached the wool to my apron and I made myself known to the people from Guinness World Records. We had a group photo taken, then one on my own and I headed back to say goodbye to Mike.

I met Gill Begnor who was wearing a bottle costume and had to get under five hours to achieve her record. I have no idea how she managed to run inside that costume! The weather forecast was for sun, sun, sun but it was very cloudy at first. Then it started to rain and so I bade farewell to Mike (with the usual teary moment) and he headed off while I tried to shelter. I found a carrier bag in my kit bag, ripped a hole in it and stuck it over my shoulders to help keep me warm. I then sneaked into one of the tents to shelter until the rain abated. 

I saw the green caterpillar of 34 runners, complete with Princess Beatrice - they went past me during the marathon too and she smiled and said "wow, that's wonderful" when she saw my crochet. I also met SarahL from Fetch sporting a gingerbread man costume. Sarah is a very speedy runner and was still pretty darned quick despite the costume!

Then it was time to line up ready for the start. Several people came over to tell me that they enjoy reading my blog, as did several more runners who passed me en route.

I always knew that the crochet stunt would be harder than the knitting for several reasons - it's harder to get into a rhythm when you're using just one hand; sweaty hands mean the wool doesn't feed through easily and also means I can't use the nice comfy bamboo hook; the chain wouldn't be as weighty as a scarf and so would blow around if there was a breeze; and last but not least, it's harder to crochet without looking at what you are doing. I had to look down much more and take more care about where I put my feet!

But, having said all that I soon got into a rhythm of sorts and set my pace accordingly. I had to get round in under six hours for the world record and as the forecast was for sun later I didn't want to go fast anyway (quite apart from the fact that I'd already run a marathon the week before).

The marathon was wonderful as always. The crowd was brilliant, calling out the names of the runners to speed them along. What was extra special for me this year though was the number of runners who went past and offered encouragement. Many of them said they'd read about my antics, seen me on GMTV or heard the radio interviews. Two ladies running for the Alzheimer's Research Trust even said they'd been inspired to run the marathon having read mum's story. That made it all worthwhile - getting publicity for such a worthy cause is paramount in what I do.

I saw lots of RW forumites and Fetchies plus two ladies who said that Mary Massage Lady (my favourite sports masseuse) had told them to look out for me! As the crochet chain grew, I wrapped it around my left arm and when I finished a ball, I tied some spare yarn around it and hung it from my belt, joined in a new ball and started again. When I had calculated how much yarn I'd need, I'd used my scarves as an estimate - this proved to be wildly inaccurate as I only got through four balls of yarn and Gerard had kindly donated 10! I hope he doesn't mind - I'll make good use of the excess though by crocheting some blankets and selling them for the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

By Mile 23 the wind was blowing my yarn around too much and I found I was slowing right down. I realised that if I didn't speed up then I wouldn't get round in under six hours. So, I stashed my yarn and hook in my apron pouch, put my sunglasses on, stuck my head down and strode forth to finish in 5:43:22.

As I crossed the finish line, I looked around for the Guinness adjudicators who then had to measure my chain. Any knitters reading this will know just how easily a ball of yarn can get itself into a right old tangle - add 26.2 miles of being jiggled around to the equation and you'll have some idea of just how tangled my hanks of crocheted chain were! It took ages to disentangle them but when we did, I was shocked to find I'd managed 77.4 metres!

After a brief interview, they presented me with a temporary certificate and I collected my goody bag and went to meet Mike (who'd been waiting patiently for ages).  I am always ravenous after a marathon and he hadn't disappointed me - I tucked into a scrummy cheese salad sandwich before we headed off to get the train home and to put our feet up for the evening.

What a great day for my 19th marathon. Now, what about next year...

Previous article
My VLM 2010: Jo Walczak (Baggage Handler)


5:00-plus, Guinness World Record
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