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Fundraising heroes: How I attempted a world record at the Virgin Money London Marathon

How Chris Brown attempted a world record as the fastest field hockey goalkeeper and raised £5000

Chris running the Virgin Money London Marathon as a field hockey goalkeeper

A conversation with Chris Brown, who tried to set a world record as the fastest marathon dressed as a field hockey goalkeeper and raised over £5,000 in the process.

What made you decide to attempt a world record at the Virgin Money London Marathon?

In the build up to a large marathon, it’s common nowadays for people to receive a lot of requests for sponsorship. It is therefore getting harder to stand out, especially if you’ve run marathons before, as I have. I thought, ‘Why not attempt a world record in a costume that is linked to the charity?’ That would certainly make me stand out.

How did you go about registering your attempt?

It was really easy, Guinness have lots of adjudicators at the Marathon. They usually charge to verify if a record has been achieved, but at the Virgin Money London Marathon the verification is free. As long as you have a place to run, you can apply online through the Guinness World Record website. The process can take up to a few months, so it is best to start the application as early as possible.

How did you pick which record you were going for?

I wanted something that would be weird enough to appeal to people, hard enough to be a challenge and also relate to my charity, Christians In Sport. I therefore decided to run dressed as a field hockey goalkeeper.

Do you think the fact that it was a Guinness World Record attempt helped generate interest?

It helped so much – we had an initial target of £2,500 which was then reviewed and increased. In the end we raised nearly £5,500! It wasn’t just that I was attempting the record which attracted interest, it was also the humorous pictures I would post of me training in the outfit. People tend to notice when you go for a run in anything other than running gear! The charity were also extremely active in documenting the build up to the marathon, which helped to raise the profile of the attempt.

What is your advice for anyone thinking of attempting their own record?

The earlier you apply the better, because it gives you a longer period to sort your costume out. You want to ensure you have ample time to design, create and train in your costume. You want to be as prepared as possible for how it will interact with your body, where it will chafe and that the costume will survive over 26.2 miles. What may seem like a minor irritation after 2 miles, may be agonizing after 20.

What were the realities of running as a field hockey goalie?

It absolutely brutalized my body. I had huge bruises on my shins and the biggest blisters ever. As much as I tried to anticipate the issues you have to be aware that you can’t foresee everything.

Any other tips?

There is something special about having an emotional connection with the charity you are running for. Christians In Sport is a charity that is extremely close to my heart, having led on their young-person, sports summer camps for a few years. For me it wasn’t just about raising finances but also their profile. The idea of setting a record is great, but the record alone may not be enough to motivate you to go training in the rain and the cold. That kind of determination often comes from running for a cause you really believe in.

Finally – did you achieve the record?

No! I came in at 6:20 and I was aiming for five and a half hours, but the money I raised is going to help people at the charity do a lot of good, and that’s what it’s all about really. In the end, no one really minded that I failed the record but seemed happy to donate to the endeavor itself!

To apply for your own record attempt visit www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records/apply-to-set-or-break-a-record/

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