Nurse’s London Marathon Record Rejected By Guinness – Because She Wasn’t Wearing A Dress

Jessica Anderson at the London Marathon 2019

by Emily Watkins |

Jessica Anderson, an NHS nurse who ran the London Marathon in her scrubs and just over 3 hours, was told that the mammoth feat of covering more than 26 miles in costume did not count as a record – because the criteria for a nurse’s uniform ‘must include a blue or white dress, a white pinafore apron and a traditional white nurse’s cap.’ So: Anderson was aiming to replace the record-holder for the fastest female marathon runner dressed as a nurse. She beat the time by 32 seconds. She is a nurse.

Seems simple enough – turns out, though, that Guinness World Records (GWR) is very specific about its costume criteria; a guide for prospective runners reads: ‘When you receive your guidelines they will include the requirements and rules around the costume or challenge they relate to. READ THESE CLOSELY. If you don’t meet the criteria of the record then your whole attempt will be disqualified (no one wants to run 26 miles dressed as a rabbit only to find out their ears weren’t long enough).’ While GWR told Laura back in February that she’d missed the deadline for costume submissions, they’ve responded to the recent uproar with promises to review her application. It seems worth flagging, though, that the outrage isn’t quibbling with how rules have been applied, or time limits – rather, with Guinness’ outdated criteria for what a nurse ought to wear. (In a particularly toe-curling explanation, GWR explained that Anderson’s trousers might mean her get-up was confused with the Doctor category.)

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Let’s remember that Anderson ran not in a costume from a fancy-dress shop, but in her actual scrubs: that’s what nurses wear, not ooh-matron hats and little aprons. Nurses across social media have been backing Jessica under the hashtag #WhatNursesWear. Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, joined the chorus with a photo on twitter alongside a couple of nurses-in-training: ‘@GWR I’m in uniform with 2 #futurenurses we are dressed in uniform a bit like @Janderzzz who ran the London marathon... this is what RNs look like.. please reconsider your position’. Samantha Fay, Senior Vice President of GWR, issued a statement: ‘Guinness World Records takes the matters of equality and inclusiveness very seriously. I want to ensure all concerned that we have recognised the need for 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’re pleased to hear that Guinness is having a rethink – about time, too.

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