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Inspiring world record attempts at Edmonton Half-Marathon

Yesterday's Edmonton Half-Marathon saw some inspiring efforts by a runner with an ostomy, a runner in full firefighting gear (including air tank and breathing apparatus), and a runner pushing her twins in a double stroller

The Servus Edmonton Marathon was the site of some impressive Guinness World Record attempts yesterday. Collin Jarvis of Oakland, California finished third overall in the full marathon yesterday, with a time of 2:27:30. Though the category of  “fastest marathon by someone with an ostomy” doesn’t yet exist as a Guinness World Record, Jarvis is in the process of persuading the organization to create it and to ratify his run as the first such record. (In 2014 Jarvis had surgery to remove his colon due to ulcerative colitis. His extensive search yielded a time more than 10 minutes slower as the next fastest finishing time.)



“It’s a really special thing,” says Jarvis, who was raised in San Diego, and whose father (also a runner) is originally from Toronto. “It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to say I set some kind of record, but in this context, it’s even more special… because of the potential to inspire people who are really struggling. If I had seen something like this when I was going through my surgery, I would have been inspired.” What’s even more inspiring is that after graduating from Berkeley, Jarvis joined a company called Stealth Belt (as seen on his singlet), which produces the customized ostomy support belt that he wears when he runs.

Jarvis told the National Post he tried to break the record at this year’s Boston Marathon, but was unsuccessful. The Edmonton course, by contrast, is flat and fast–and, just as important, the weather yesterday was cool and cloudy.

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Despite the perfect conditions, two other Guinness record attempters were not successful yesterday, but their efforts deserve some recognition nonetheless. Noel D’Arcy of Olds, Alta. made a valiant attempt at the record for the fastest half-marathon by a male wearing full firefighting gear. This is not to be confused with simply wearing the uniform, which is a different record. Full gear means boots and the self-contained breathing apparatus (also known as an air pack), which involves breathing air from a 65-lb. tank carried on your back. The time D’Arcy had to beat was  is 3:30. He finished, with some difficulty, in 3:53:04.


“Not many people have done it with the pack,” says D’Arcy, who was back at work at the fire hall in Olds this morning. D’Arcy, who notes that his regular half-marathon PB is 1:20, explains that he had to change out his air cylinder approximately every three kilometres, which a friend pulled in a trailer behind his bike. D’Arcy ran into some breathing difficulties about 9K into the race, the inside of his uniform became wet with sweat, and his feet were badly blistered inside his steel-toed fire boots. “At that point I’m like, I honestly think the record is out of my reach, so I’m going to go with the secondary plan of getting it finished,” D’Arcy says. “It was a hard grind.” D’Arcy was also using the run to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation.

Natalie Shanahan of Edmonton tried for the record for the fastest half-marathon by a woman pushing a double stroller. The time she had to beat was 1:25:36, set by Cynthia Arnold in Montana in May–but this record was only ratified recently, and Shanahan, who only learned of it at the last minute, had targeted the previous record of 1:31:45 in her training. “Kudos to her!” says Shanahan. “She’s an incredible athlete.” (Arnold also holds the triple stroller record, at 1:29.)


Shanahan finished the race in 1:27:44, pushing her 14-month-old twin daughters. That would have broken the earlier record, but was two minutes shy of the new record. Shanahan did set a new personal best, which makes her happy. Shanahan is a member of Canada’s 24-hour running team headed to the World 24-Hour Championships in France in October.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story reported that Collin Jarvis set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon by a person with an ostomy. That was not accurate, since such a category does not exist–yet.