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Guinness relents on London Marathon nurse’s uniform

The august world records organization acknowledged its standards are outdated

It took more than a week, but the Guinness organization has acknowledged the error of its ways in refusing to grant a world record to a woman at the Virgin Money London Marathon because it didn’t consider her to be wearing a proper nurse’s uniform. “Our guidelines for running a marathon in a nurse’s uniform were out of date and reflected a stereotype we do not wish to perpetuate,” it tweeted yesterday. “For that we apologize. We have now awarded Jessica Anderson the record for fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform.”

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Anderson, who is in real life a nurse at the Royal London Hospital, finished the marathon in 3:08:22, 32 seconds faster than the existing record. But she was initially denied the record for fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform because the blue scrubs she was wearing did not evoke the idea of a nurse in the minds of those ratifying the record, even though the traditional notion of a white dress or skirt and white stockings is now a thing of the distant past. Guinness’s refusal garnered headlines worldwide.

Anderson, who raised more than £5,000 for her unit’s charity (her initial goal being £500), knew that Guinness didn’t approve of her “costume” before she ran, but was determined to run it anyway. On her fundraising page she wrote: “Unfortunately Guinness world records has not accepted my application as they said my uniform does not comply with their ‘criteria’ of what a nurse wears.  However I will still be aiming to beat the current official time of 3 hours 8 minutes and 54 seconds.”

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The Guinness organization went on: “Moreover, we have taken the decision to no longer allow fancy dress clothing for this category and will introduce guidelines which reflect the clothes worn by nurses in the UK and around the world.” (By fancy dress, it means a costume. So if you plan on running a marathon in a traditional white nurse’s uniform, i.e. a dress, think again.)

Interestingly, there is also a record for fastest male dressed as a nurse, held by Alistair Smith, and set at the 2016 London Marathon. And yes, Smith is wearing a dress, reminiscent of what nurses wore during WWII. (His time was 2:45:37.)

Seventy-eight people attempted to break world records at this year’s London Marathon. Thirty-nine were successful.