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Guiness world records at STWM: Running a half-marathon in a suit

Photo: Inge Johnson / Canada Running Series
Photo: Inge Johnson / Canada Running Series

If you’re watching the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, you may mistake Nicholas Mizera for a guy who’s just late getting to a business meeting.  Instead of split shorts and a singlet, the 27-years-old editor at Huffington Post Canada will don slacks and a sport coat in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for a half-marathon in a suit. Mizera needs to better the current mark of 1:39:50 in order to make history, while looking good doing it.

We chatted with the dapper distance runner about sweating it out in a suit.

First off, tell us how you got into running.
I recently moved to a condo in Toronto’s west end, and I’d be lying if I told you its location near great running along the Martin Goodman Trail and High Park weren’t major factors for me and my girlfriend, Jenna. Already a seasoned athlete, she inspired me to start running shortly after we first started dating three years ago. I started taking running more seriously when I joined up with Tribe Fitness, a run crew operating in City Place. That was my entry into Toronto’s vibrant run crew community. Now, I am a proud member of Pace & Mind, a performance running club led by Rejean Chiasson. I simply wouldn’t be the runner I am today without them.

mizera running suit
Photo: Inge Johnson / Canada Running Series

Have you ever raced in a costume of any kind before?
I raced in a suit once before at this year’s Harry’s Spring Run Off in Toronto. My girlfriend convinced me to uphold the somewhat neglected race tradition of suiting up for the challenging 8K race through High Park, and I ended up raising $685 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation while I was at it. I started the race intending to run it for fun, but my competitive side got the better of me and I completed it in a respectable 35:15. That’s when I realized I could do it again.

Where did the idea come from to do this?
I’m a lover of men’s fashion and have written for several men’s lifestyle publications as a journalist and editor–I also author my own style blog called The Gentleman Journalist. With running being such an important part of my life, it was only a matter of time that I took combining my two passions beyond teaming technical clothing with blazers and neck ties. When my girlfriend (see a pattern here?) found out that the Guinness World Record for fastest half-marathon not only existed, but that I actually had a shot at breaking it, so it proved an irresistible challenge. I made the decision to focus my entire season of training on attempting to break the current 1:39:50 record at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

mizera running suit 3
Photo: Inge Johnson / Canada Running Series
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Have you practiced in a suit on your runs? If so, where and did you get any comments from passersby?
Making a custom suit is a lengthy process, so I only recently had the opportunity to run in the final get-upthankfully, I was able to put it through its paces during a 25K long run. Heat wasn’t an issue, but what I found most surprising was just how much the wind can slow you down when you’re running in a suit. I received a few interesting reactions during that run, ranging from quizzical stares to shouts of, “Hey, nice suit!” The most memorable reaction was running into Canadian elite Sami Jibril in Coronation Park. He gave me a high-five and some words of encouragement, and it was exactly what I needed at the time. I’m looking forward to cheering Sami on during his STWM debut–and potentially his Rio qualifier.

Did you get a custom suit? What brand is it and what type of fabric did you go with?] The suit makers at Indochino supplied me with a suit to help my attempt. It’s made from a fabric they recently rolled out called Indotech–basically, a merino wool treated to be exceptionally breathable, wrinkle-free and even slightly water-repellent. They call it their “lifeproof” suit, and it definitely holds up. Oh, and I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I haven’t had to do more than air the suit out after my run… so, there’s that, too.

mizera running suit 4
Photo: Inge Johnson / Canada Running Series

What kind of tie?
The type of tie I was going to wear was a tough decision, but I settled on a simple black bowtie. I love the combination of black and indigo against a white shirt. The downside is that I can’t loosen it if things heat up, but it won’t be the first time I suffered for fashion.

Are you wearing dress shoes?
While I gladly suffer in the name of style, this is where I draw the line! The Guinness rules give the option of wearing running or formal shoes, but I couldn’t imagine ending a race in leather brogues without serious foot problems. I haven’t decided on my race day kicks, but it’s a toss-up between my usual racers–New Balance 1500s–and the shoes I’ve recently been putting in the most mileage in–Brooks Launch 2.

Follow Mizera for forward-thinking fashion while on the run on Twitter and Instagram @nicholasmizera and use the hashtag #RunSharp