Daniel Bruce never hit the wall during the Abingdon Marathon on Sunday 18th October 2015. That’s because he nailed his pacing strategy - a nap for the first 20 miles - and his nutrition strategy - a sip of milk from a bottle at mile 21.
Now at seven months old, Daniel is a potential world record holder along with his mum, Jessica Bruce, who pushed him for 26.2 miles in 3:17:26. Pending Guinness World Record verification, Bruce is the fastest female to push a pram during a marathon.
“I am just quite amazed we managed to do it in that time,” Bruce said. “Nothing went wrong, and I was so encouraged by the support along the way.”
Bruce began training for the marathon four months after having Daniel, her first child. Because her husband David works long hours as a doctor near their home in Oxford, Bruce had to run with Daniel strapped in a pram if she wanted to get in her weekly mileage.
On a hilly four-mile loop near her home, Bruce realised she might be fast enough to break a world record with Daniel in tow. She could not find a previous record for a female pushing a pram during a marathon, but Guinness confirmed to her that the time to beat was 3:31:45.
On race day, David ran alongside the stroller for support. “He was there to chat with Daniel, to sing to him, and to help with pacing,” Bruce said. Near mile 21, he held a bottle full of milk for Daniel to drink mid-stride.
“Just like a volunteer at a water station,” she said. “But I made sure he never touched the stroller the entire race.” If he did touch the stroller, the record could have been disqualified.
If Daniel decides to take up running when he gets older, his genes should help. Bruce, who has a 2:58 marathon PR, met her husband at a cross-country running club while attending Oxford University. During her pregnancy, she continued to run until week 30.
“Daniel has been an absolute star,” Bruce said. “He loves watching the trees go by above him in the stroller.” That is, when he isn’t asleep, which the stroller accomplishes nearly every time Bruce starts to run.
Bruce will hear if Guinness ratifies the record by mid-November. Until then, Daniel will admire the shiny finisher’s medal he earned after crossing the line a split-second before his mum.