Dressing to impress! - Women's Running UK

Dressing to impress!

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  April 26, 2016

From astronauts to turtles, you can expect to see some seriously impressive costumes on the course of the London Marathon this year  – and some even more impressive running. We caught up with four ladies, who will be sporting costumes this year, with the hope of breaking a Guinness World Record.

Name: Katie Sherwood

Record attempt: Fastest marathon in an animal suit

Katie Godof - Animal costume (not full body) Turtle

How many years have you been running for and how did you get into it? 
I started running on a treadmill at the gym when I was 22 (16 years ago). It took me about a year to get the courage to go outside and run along Brighton seafront, encouraged by a friend. I was soon addicted and entered a local 10K not long after. The same friend then prompted me to join Brighton and Hove Athletic, and I was soon in the swing of track on Tuesday nights, long runs or cross-country events at the weekend, and some runs in-between. I ran my first marathon in 2002, with the aim to complete it and I did it in 3hrs 45mins. Over the next few years, I got into duathlon and triathlon, along with clocking up more marathons, half-marathons and 10K races. While being pregnant, running was put on pause. I took my time to return to running, and it was eight weeks after my son was born that I started my own walk/run programme on the treadmill at home. I slowly built up the time (when Seb was asleep) and, as people had reassured me they wouldn’t, my legs didn’t forget!

What inspired you to break the record for the fastest marathon in an animal suit?
I think the notion of running like a tortoise popped into my mind during those early, not very pretty, runs on the treadmill. My legs were getting used to running again, and I was in that constantly tired state that all new parents are in (and I’m still mostly in, nearly 11 months later, still feeding on demand night and day). I did a bit of research and decided to apply for the record for running as a tortoise, and was told the record would be for fastest animal, so we got cracking with making the costume.

What time are you aiming to beat?
The record is 3hrs 18mins, so I’m targeting around 3hrs 15mins.

How much does the costume weigh?
The shell is 650g and the head is 340g.

How are you feeling about the race?
It’s going to be painful (as all marathons are if you’re pushing yourself) but fun as, apart from anything else, it’s the first time my husband and I will have run one together, and it’ll actually be our first date since Seb was born!

Name: Libby Jackson

Record attempt: Fastest marathon wearing a replica astronaut suit


Tell us about your running experience and how you first got into it.
I’ve been running since February 2013, when a 5K challenge led to the London Marathon in 2014, thanks to a supportive friend and a life-changing book. The fact I run at all, let alone am about to do my second marathon, still amazes me every day. Having spent my whole life as someone who was never sporty, hated PE, was always last to be picked for any team and has no eye-hand coordination, I still don’t think of myself as a runner. My message to everyone is simple – if I can do this, anyone can.  And if you’ve ever thought about doing a marathon, do it! It will be painful, it will be tough, but you won’t regret it and it will change your life in some small way. Running the London Marathon in 2014 was the best thing I have ever done with my life. After the pain and soreness had subsided, I knew that I couldn’t go back to doing nothing. Since then, I’ve made a promise to myself that I will never let myself get to the point where I can’t run 5K at parkrun on a Saturday, and so far have completed a half-marathon every six months at least.

Where did the idea come from to run in an astronaut suit?
After running London in 2014, I knew that one day I’d do another one to prove to myself that it wasn’t just a one-off thing. Going back to when I watched the London Marathon as a child, it was always the fancy dress runners that I most admired. I work for the UK Space Agency, managing the education programme for Tim Peake’s mission, and when Tim told me he was planning on running the marathon in space during his mission, I knew instantly that this was the opportunity and I would run it on Earth at the same time. One of our programmes was getting some look-a-like Sokol suits made, and they looked amazing; as soon as I saw one, the whole plan started to fall into place. I would run the marathon, dressed in an astronaut suit.

What time are you aiming to beat?
My first goal is always simply to finish. If I can break 5hrs 30mins, I’ll be ecstatic.

Have you trained in the suit?
I’ve gone running in the suit, around Swindon, where I live and work. I went for a long run, and no one gave me a second look! I even stopped in the park café for some water and a banana and not a single person commented.

How much does it weigh?
About 2kg.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge about running in the suit?
The helmet and gloves. In order to be considered for the record, I have to keep these on. The helmet may well bob up and down, and I usually find any repetitive noise near my ears eats away at my sanity after a couple of hours.  I’m hoping it will stay in place and the cheers of the crowd will drown out any noise or mental challenges!

Name: Faye Geneen Morse

Record attempt: Fastest marathon dressed as a film character


How many years have you been running?
I started running in my late 20s when I met my now husband in Manchester. My first race was the Manchester 10K back in 2004. My first marathon was in Stockholm in 2005. I then officially got the running bug and have now run eight marathons in total, having run the London marathon twice before. I ran Boston marathon last year, which was an amazing experience, but wow, “heartbreak hill”, as it is known, at around mile 21, really lives up to its name! I love the London marathon – the crowds really get behind you.

What inspired you to break the record for the fastest marathon dressed as a film character? 
For the simple fact I am trying to go for a realistic record I have a chance of beating! The current record in this category is 3hrs 45mins, which I should make, but it really depends if anyone else is going for the same record.

Why the Green Fairy from Moulin Rouge (aka Tinkerbell)? 
I was racking my brains for an outfit that isn’t too hot or cumbersome, plus my three-year-old daughter, Maya, adores fairies, and will be wearing her Tinkerbell outfit in support on the day. And if it’s windy, I can fly round!

What time are you aiming to beat?
My personal best is 3hrs 29mins from 2014, but I’m not sure I am at the same point training-wise as I was then and I’m two years older, of course!

Are you running for charity?
Yes I’m running for a local charity in sunny Gibraltar where I live, Childline Gibraltar. This is one of three fundraising events I am doing this year, with Berlin Skate Marathon and cycling coast to coast in Costa Rica still to do.

What are you most looking forward to about race day?
I’m really looking forward to the support from the crowd; it’s so uplifting! And also the fact that my family and children will be there cheering me on. Then there’s, of course, that well-earned celebratory beer at the end!

Name: Gill Punt

Record attempt: Fastest marathon dressed as an animal

GWR Polar Bear_G.Punt

Could you tell us a little bit about your running experience?
I ran my first marathon in 1999. It was so horrendous that it took me another 15 years to try again. It was totally my fault, as I did hardly any training beforehand. My father was in his final weeks of his brave but losing battle with cancer. In-between these times, I used to run for fun and fitness, usually on a Sunday morning around our school fields.

How many marathons have you taken part in before?
This is my fourth marathon for Cancer Research UK. The last two with a good deal more preparation and training than my first attempt.

What time are you aiming to beat?
I have to beat 4hrs 30mins to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as an animal (female). This is a huge challenge as my fastest time was only 4hrs 24mins, and that was without the costume!

What gave you the idea to go for a Guinness World Record?
My three sons are obsessed with their Guinness World Records books, and so we thought I should apply for a record chance. The polar bear suit is a Cancer Research UK mascot and I have been a committed supporter of this charity since losing my father at a young age to this dreadful disease. My boys are thrilled and have total faith in me….I am a little more realistic, but will give it my best shot, and try not to spontaneously combust by mile three!

How has the fundraising gone so far?
My husband and I do lots of fundraising for Cancer Research UK, and this is one of our many fundraising challenges for the charity. We are committed to doing all we can to help beat this disease so others do not need to suffer as we have. Our grand total is approaching £250,000. I am married to the headmaster of Chigwell School community, who has been right behind us. Our whole school community has been touched by this dreadful disease; we have lost a number of staff and even a pupil to it. Among the various activities we have undertaken, I have organised staff, parents and old Chigwellians to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon for the past two years. In 2014, we raised £40,000 but, last October, I rallied over 100 to join our team, and we raised over £92,000!

What do you think will be the biggest challenge about running in the suit?
My biggest challenge will be the heat. It is very sweaty inside the suit, even while walking! So I will need to take in plenty of water. As you will see from the photo, there is little opportunity for ventilation. The head presents its own challenge in that I can either see or breathe, but not both at the same time…a challenge indeed.

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