Guinness tells nurse she can't break marathon record without wearing dress

Image: Virgin London Marathon 2019
The London Marathon on April 28, 2019. Copyright Jeff Spicer
Copyright Jeff Spicer
By Elisha Fieldstadt with NBC News World News
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"It would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria instead of reinforcing old gender stereotypes," said nurse and runner Jessica Anderson.


Guinness World Records said Saturday that they would review an attempt to beat the record for fastest marathon in a nurse's uniform after initially denying the submission because the woman running wore medical scrubs instead of a dress.

Nurse Jessica Anderson ran last Sunday's London Marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 22 seconds, while wearing blue scrubs, technically beating the record for fastest female marathon runner in a nurse's uniform by more than half a minute. Sarah Dudgeon set that record, running the London Marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 54 seconds in 2015, according to Guinness.

Anderson wrote on Instagram in March that Guinness had denied her application to break the record because "my uniform doesn't meet their criteria of what a nurse's uniform should be."

Although the online description of the record doesn't specify, she was told that to meet the record's criteria for a nurse's uniform, she must wear a blue or white dress, apron, and a traditional cap.

She told Runner's World that she asked Guinness to reconsider, but they denied her appeal.

"I get that it's supposed to be a fun thing, but their definition is just so outdated," she told the magazine. "It would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria instead of reinforcing old gender stereotypes."

Guinness senior vice president Samantha Fay said in a statement Saturday that the company had launched "an immediate review of this attempt and the fastest marathon dressed as a nurse category and associated guidelines, which we will begin as a priority."

"We are also committed to consistent reviews of all record categories to ensure they reflect the world we live in today," Fay said. "Guinness World Records takes the matters of equality and inclusiveness very seriously."

Anderson was one of 15 runners in the London Marathon racing to raise money for Barts Charity, a health care and research nonprofit that supports her unit at the Royal London Hospital.

A statement from Barts on April 29 said that the 15 runners had raised more than 25,000 pounds, or nearly $33,000. And Anderson has raised even more since then, with nearly $6,000 in donations by Monday afternoon, according to her fundraising page.

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