From running in a giraffe costume to running while hula hooping, there is a host of unconventional world records in the sport.
It was an amazing sight, really. As a pack of people ran the streets of London during the 2010 London Marathon, it was impossible to overlook what appeared to be a yellow pole, two stories high, bouncing along.
Follow that pole all the way to the ground and you would find 21-year-old John-Paul De Lacy, who’s own legs represented the two front legs of his giraffe costume. The 23-foot pole was actually the neck of the giraffe made out of plastic tubing, with a little paper mache giraffe head at the top.
Raising money for The Meningitis Trust, De Lacy finished the marathon, ridiculous costume and all, in 5:55—no easy task considering the course has a couple of tunnels that were logistical nightmares (the finish chute alone added minutes to his time.)
“The tunnels were a problem,” De Lacy told Get Reading afterward. “I had to crawl through a couple of them. The costume was about 10 feet too tall.”
But the mission was accomplished: De Lacy has the certified Guinness World Record for “Tallest Costume Worn While Running a Marathon” at 7.04 meters (23 feet, 1 inch). He’s now on the list of the world’s most unusual running records.
Funny thing is, it’s a pretty long list.
While the pure records will always command our awe—Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 marathon, Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:43 mile—there is a subset of never-been-done-before marks that are certified by Guinness World Records and chased by those with a little running talent and a lot of creativity and determination.
De Lacy’s 23-foot giraffe head at the London Marathon is just one. Here are some more.
Fastest Marathon Running Backwards
At the 2004 Beijing Marathon, Xu Zhenjun of China ran the course backwards—not from the finish line to the start line, but rather backwards running—and finished in 3:43:39. Now you know the time to go for.
Fastest Half Marathon Hula Hooping
Betty Shurin, known as Betty Hoops, ran the Hollywood Half Marathon in 2012 in a time of 3:03:48, hula hooping the entire course. She never touched the hoop and it never dropped—she even stopped often to dazzle the crowd with her tricks. Betty also has the 10K record, 1:14, set at BolderBoulder in 2008.
Most Distance Covered in 12 Hours on a Treadmill
A hedge fund analyst by day, 35-year-old Chris Solarz went to the Fitness Factory Health Club in Edgewater, N.J. on Jan. 18, 2014 trying for his sixth Guinness World Record. He stepped on the treadmill at 7 a.m., and at 7 p.m. he stepped off having completed 77.07 miles. That’s a 9:20-per-mile pace for 12 hours. On a treadmill.
As for Solarz’s other records? One is a different kind of endurance—he visited all 468 of New York City’s subway stops in less than 23 hours.
Fastest Marathon While Dribbling a Soccer Ball
At the Sydkyst Marathon in Denmark, Jan La Caille dribbled a soccer ball 26.2 miles and finished the race in 3:29:55. Even better, the marathon had varied terrain, taking him on streets, off-road and even on paths covered in snow.
Fastest Marathon Carrying a 60-Pound Pack
At the 2013 Tokyo Marathon, Japanese army instructor Toru Sakurai carried a 60-pound backpack the entire course, finishing the race in 4:39:09.
Fastest Barefoot Marathon
Running historians certainly know about this accomplishment. At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia ran a 2:15:16 to win the gold medal. He ran that marathon barefooted, nabbing him a Guinness World Record to go with his gold. Unlike the others on this list, there was nothing gimmicky about this record—Bikila found his available shoes uncomfortable and often trained barefooted in Ethiopia anyway.