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Raise a glass to the record breakers

26 April 2010

It's hard enough completing the 26.2 mile marathon in orthodox running kit, so congratulations are definitely in order for the 18 finishers who broke Guinness World Records at the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday.

Effort in a common cause was exemplified by Team Branson, as 34 runners, including Princess Beatrice, plus Holly and Sam Branson, combined to set a record for the most linked runners to complete a marathon. Staying roped together for the entire duration, they finished in a creditable 5:13:04.

There were some very respectable times, including a crop on the brink of three hours. So let's raise a glass to David Ross who can revel in his status as the fastest marathon runner dressed as a male cartoon character - Fred Flintstone in his case - with 3:07:34.

Just over two minutes behind came his fellow Briton Ben Afforselles, confirming that leprechauns really do exist, since he crossed the line in 3:09:40. Tony Audenshaw had set his sights on becoming the fastest marathoner dressed in baby diapers and he took a massive chunk of one hour, 26 minutes and 30 seconds off the previous record to finish in 3:13:30.

If you think you need something to take your mind off the rigour of the marathon, why not combine a hobby with running? Susie Hewer did. She knitted the longest crochet chain ever - 77.4 metres - to finish in 5:43:22. And she's not finished knitting by a long way: the Virgin London Marathon is the second of three successive marathon weekends for her.

She aims to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer's Research Trust "Memories Matter" campaign. Her mother suffered from dementia and Susie was her carer for many years. "As dementia destroys the links between the brain cells I made the connection with crochet where all the chain links are strong and intact," she explained.

Confirming the perennial attraction of the Dr Who television series, Paul Franks in his Dalek costume broke the record for the fastest marathon as a male television character with 4:01:46.

Captain Benjamin Harrop of the Parachute Regiment was raising money for Royal Star and Garter Homes, which cares for ex-servicemen and women with disabilities. He's a Guinness World Record breaker now after carrying a 60lb pack across the finish line in 5:28:53, taking almost one hour off the record.

Distance running is a test of mind as well as body so it was apt that a professor of neurology, Tom Solomon, achieved a new distinction as the fastest marathoner dressed as a doctor, complete with stethoscope and surgical overalls from the Walton Centre and the University of Liverpool. He ran 4:21:09, raising funds for the Encephalitis Society.

"Encephalitis is inflammation and swelling of the brain usually caused by a virus," he said. "I know what a terrible disease it is because it is one of the many we research. The society supports those affected by encephalitis, raises awareness and funds research."

Professor Solomon was over half-an-hour behind another member of the medical profession, "Nurse" Andrew White, who clocked 3:46:27 dressed for the operating theatre. Having had just one brief early morning run in London's Hyde Park the previous Saturday morning, accompanied by his daughter on her bike, you could say it's been a family partnership.

Head and shoulders above the rest was Jean Paul Delacy. Delacy ran as a giraffe, breaking the record for the tallest costume worn while running a marathon - 7.04 metres. He finished in 5:55:11, his lofty costume a massive improvement on the previous height of 4.27 metres.