Setting a World Record at the London Marathon

Marie Evans recently attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as DNA, inspired by her son Gabriel, who has Down’s syndrome. She tells us how it all happened…

In 2013, the year before our wonderful son Gabriel was born, I ran the Edinburgh Marathon, taking 4 hours, 50 minutes. Upon finishing I announced that a marathon was “far too far” and I would never run another one unless it was London.

Fast forward to 2019 and the last week in January. I was offered the chance to run the London Marathon and I (perhaps stupidly!) said yes. Having just returned back to work the previous month after maternity leave, and with two young boys I realised it wasn’t ideal timing for me so start the necessary training. However, I’ve never been one to avoid a challenge!

To add to the pressure, I contacted the Guinness World Records people to enquire about a record that I had started thinking about over a few years ago. They accepted my proposed record of ‘Fastest Female Marathon dressed as a DNA double helix’ and gave me the time of 4 hours 30 minutes to beat. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, I had to create a costume which fitted in with their strict guidelines. It had to go from my shoulders to below my knee AND had to fully encase me as well as being recognisable as DNA (in their opinion).

At this point I realised you can’t just buy a ‘DNA’ costume! So the creative element of this challenge commenced. There were many failed experiments along the way…swimming noodles, rope and foam lagging…but nothing seemed to work. I settled on a combination off interfacing fabric, pipe cleaners and wooden dowel. Finally I had a costume agreed by GWR. All the while my weekend runs were getting longer and more tiring.

My favourite moments were always coming home and Gabe running to the door to meet me like he hadn’t seen me in days shouting “Mummy!!!” . He would then often steal my hat or my iPod and disappear off having told me I was “wet” (sweaty). On the day of the Marathon itself I had support along the way from my husband, various friends and my Auntie and Uncle.

I managed to come in well under the record time, finishing in 4 hours 20 minutes and 7 seconds though I won’t lie and say it was easy. It was mentally the hardest thing I have ever had to do. However, I know I got people thinking and talking along the way (which was my aim!) as I had people asking me about my choice of outfit- often understanding a little more when they saw the picture of Gabe I had on my hat and my motto ‘It’s just DNA’.

A big thank you to Marie for her efforts and donations. Congratulations on breaking the record!