Longest Scarf Knit While Running a Marathon

12' 1 and 3/4"
26.2 miles

October 19th, 2013

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I Broke the Guinness World Record

Susie Hewer 2013
Susie Hewer 2014

Yes, there was a record to break in the first place. Susie Hewer, of the UK, first ran a marathon while knitting a scarf in 2007. On April 21st, 2013, then 55-years-old Susie Hewer ran the Virgin London Marathon in 5:54:23 while knitting a scarf 2.05 metres (6 feet 8 inches) long. This was Mrs. Hewer's 3rd marathon scarf. She knits and runs to raise awarness and funds for Alzheimer's research in the UK. From her blog:

In 2007 I celebrated my 50th birthday by running a series of 5 marathons and 2 ultras of 35 and 52.4 miles. I wanted to do something special at the London marathon to get publicity for ARUK - a friend remarked that I should "act my age and stay at home with my knitting!" So I took my knitting with me and became the first person to set the Guinness World Record for "The longest Scarf Knitted Whilst Running a Marathon"!
You can follow her blog here: Extreme Knitting Redhead

My Record

Run the Burg - Half Marathon, Oct. 2013
In training, Sept. 2013

I had made a goal and ran my first marathon at 40 years old at the Kansas City Marathon in just under 4 hours. It wasn't easy and I thought I was done. The next year family members were interested in running and my Brother-in-law convinced me to run with him for his first race ever. I figured that a slower pace seemed like a perfect excuse to try a knitting marathon. I was already practiced at running and knitting at the same time.

The Requirements

Guinness sure doesn't make things easy. I applied in June and by mid-September I had the requirements and could finally train for the record.

  1. Start knitting after crossing the starting line.
  2. Size 15 US needles max (10mm).
  3. 30 stitches per row, garter stitch.
  4. Complete the marathon in under 6 hours.
  5. Beat the 2.05 meter length.
There are also several requirements which in some ways were more difficult than knitting while running.
  1. Videotape the entire attempt.
  2. Witnesses present the whole time.
  3. Official to measure the final length of scarf and number of stitches.

The Attempt

Rache, David, Stephen, KC 2103
photo by: Action Sports Images

I had trained hard and was confident that I could do about 9 feet. My biggest worry going into the race was cold hands. I got to the race late and had to run a half mile to get to the starting line. I found my brother-in-law, Stephen Beckman, the 5:45 pace group, led by Sueann Sandel and Cynthia Stapp, and met Rache Brudnicki, who had volunteered through Ravelry to be my running witness. I was nice and warmed up from my sprint and a short time later we crossed the start around 13 minutes after the race clock. From the very start we had a fun group. The runners in my group would call spectator attention to my knitting record attempt and felt a boost from having a fun distraction.

Thanks to some pre-race media many people along the route mentioned that they had seen the story and gave me a cheer. As with any race the cheering really helped. Knitting the whole way really did help distract me from the hard parts of the marathon. One volunteer told me that I was his, "new favorite person". I told him that he was mine.

Kansas City Star; Jim Barcus
Kansas City Star; Jim Barcus

Rache did an awesome job of watching closely particularly as I changed yarn colors from 7 different balls of yarn. I wore a large fanny pack with 6 balls of yarn in it. In a smaller waist pack I held the ball that I was currently knitting from. About a third of the way through the race I had a ball pop out and I had to chase it down. As the scarf got longer I cinched it up with paracord loops and attached it with carabiners to my waist pack and wrapped it three times around my legs by the end of the race. I knew that I had broken the current record shortly after the half-way mark. I could tell by my training and how much yarn I had used that I was doing better than I had thought. I had to call my family and have them bring me another ball on the run. There was one point where I dropped a couple stitches on a turn and another where I had to backtrack and re-do a bad stitch, but I was able to fix it all on the run.

The Triumphant Finish
Action Sports Images
Official Measure
Rache Brudnicki

I finished the race just in time. I finished my final bind-off just a few yards from the finish and crossed the line with needles and scarf end raised a few minutes under the record time at 5 hours, 48 minutes. That late in the race most people had packed up and left. Fortunately all of my friends, family and official measurement witnesses were still there. Knitting professionals Cindy Craig and Traci Bunkers spread out the scarf, without stretching, and measurement professional Jim Josten read the measuring tape: 12 feet 1 and 3/4 inches at the shortest point. I did it! The Kansas City Star was on hand to record details.

Finish Photos

Rachel Brudnicki and David
Ava and a too-big scarf
Emily Sloan
Wife's Welcome
Emily Sloan
Pace Team, Pam Page, David, Cynthia Stapp, Sueann Sandel
Emily Sloan
Big Family, many were runners
Emily Sloan
Cindy Craig, Stephen Beckman, Traci Bunkers, Jim Josten
Emily Sloan

It's Official

Guinness Website Spring 2014

It took me a long time to gather all of my witness statements, video and other materials. After I finally submitted it all Guinness lost my application for a few months. The attempt was finally recognized as the new record on March 10th. Having obtained a record I don't particularly feel the need to do another, but I will continue to stretch myself to try new and challenging things.

David's finish with friend Susan running him in.
The Babcock Family