“Giddy up,” “Yee-haw,” and “Where’s your horse?”
Those were the phrases Justin Kurek got used to hearing directed towards him while he ran at Sunday’s Calgary Marathon.
The Calgary resident bettered the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon in a cowboy costume on the weekend finishing seventh overall and sixth in the men’s race. Kurek ran 2:42:17 (2:42:14 chip time) and was the second Canadian in the race.
“It was unbelievable,” Kurek says. “Beyond what I thought it would be like. There were so many people cheering on and it was 42K of pure community support.”
Sporting denim jeans, a leather vest, cowboy hat, belt buckle and signature collared shirt, Kurek’s ‘A’ goal was to break 2:40 with his secondary goal to break 2:45. Conditions were around 13 C at the start and temperatures warmed to 17 C meaning Kurek was considerably warmer with all the gear. He wore Dish & DUER jeans which are stretchier than traditional denim jeans and happen to also be moisture-wicking. Kurek laughed when asked whether the marathon was the fastest-ever run while wearing jeans.
Cowboy boots aren’t a requirement and running footwear is permitted. To put the time in perspective, Kurek’s lifetime best for the marathon is 2:32:17 from Chicago in 2015.
The previous record, by Rik Vercoe, stands at 3:09:09 from the 2014 London Marathon. Kurek’s time remains unofficial until proof is sent in to Guinness though he is confident that the time will become ratified. His brother rode next to him during the race and recorded footage with a pair of GoPros. Family and friends lined the course and cheered on Kurek on multiple occasions thanks to the spectator-friendly nature of the route.
The record attempt has been a few years in the making as executive director Kirsten Fleming and Kurek discussed this year being Canada 150-themed to celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday. He wanted to do something special for the race and figured a cowboy record attempt would be fitting considering that Calgary is known for its famous stampede.
The cowboy record was a vehicle for Kurek to raise awareness for the Doris Rowland Nanoknife Fund, named after Doris Rowland who passed away from pancreatic cancer. Nanoknife is a “minimally invasive option for patients with inoperable or difficult-to-reach tumors.” The cause hits close to home for Kurek as “Grandma Doris” was a member of the family through his brother-in-law.
Kurek is planning on building for the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon in Vancouver this summer and hopes to break the 2:30 barrier in the marathon this fall.