At yesterday’s Manchester Half-Marathon in the UK, Shantelle Gaston-Hird unofficially reclaimed the Guinness World Record for the fastest half-marathon (female) running backwards. Her time of 2:16:03 bests the record set in January by Justine Galloway of San Diego by almost four minutes.
Gaston-Hird and Galloway have traded the record back and forth twice now, Galloway entering the scene with a 2:46 in 2015, Gaston-Hird lowering it to 2:27:09 in 2017, and Galloway retaking it in January at 2:19:45. “It goes to show consistent training and determination get you results,” Gaston-Hird said in an Instagram post.
She is also looking forward to participating in the Retro Running World Championships in London, UK in July 2020.
Before becoming a backwards runner (or retro runner, as it’s referred to internationally), Gaston-Hird, 33, was a roller-derby enthusiast and runner, having completed five marathons and eight ultramarathons. In 2017 she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed Britain’s National 3 Peak Challenge (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon in under 24 hours). Retro running was something she did to be different, and to show the world that it’s OK to stand out from the crowd. Raised in a family of nine children, Gaston-Hird started running backwards in support of an anti-bullying charity.
Two years ago, she created a family-friendly event called the Retro Mile to encourage people to be active and to try something new. “It is also a fantastic rehabilitation and cross-training exercise,” she says of retro running, “but more importantly, it is fun.” She is also working with Manchester Metropolitan University to study the mechanics and physical benefits of retro running.
Her new mark is not quite as fast as she had hoped, since she was training for a 2:10, but Gaston-Hird says she’s satisfied with her effort, which represents an 11-minute personal best. The run was in aid of YoungMinds, a mental health charity for children and young people.