Drayton’s Ian Pickett finally achieves his childhood ambition and breaks a world record. One more thing ticked off his bucket-list, then. Even if he had to dress up as nursery-rhyme character to do it.
On BBC Radio Newcastle, Mo Farah had wished me good luck. Then Sir Mo said, in a somewhat bemused tone, “It’s hard enough running normal.” After traveling twelve miles in temperatures of up to 30 degrees I was beginning to see what he meant. Even though I’m a relatively experienced club runner, the Great North Run isn’t easy at the best of times. When you are dressed as a gingerbread man it’s something else.
If I really rewind the clock my obsession with breaking a world record all stems from being a child. I received a copy of the Guinness Book of Records as a present one year. And that was it. I was instantly transfixed by the idea. I’ve always had the thought at the back of my mind that one day.
Admittedly, back then, I was probably imagining myself as the next Steve Cram or Sebastien Coe. And not as a slightly portly half-man-half-cake from a Victorian children’s story. But – the way I see it is – records are records. A man has to take the chances life presents him with. Even the inherently ridiculous ones.
And, to be serious for a moment, the cause was good. I was running for GroceryAid, the grocery industry’s own charity. Most of the senior team at Drayton Partners worked in the industry before moving in to recruitment. It is a cause close to our hearts. I’d already done the Great North Run fives time before, once in a costume. Which had been a really fun and rewarding experience. Then I spotted that a number of the fancy-dress world records were food related and had the idea of running for the charity.
When I first signed up and started my training the time to beat was around 1 hour 50mins. However, half way through my preparation, an Australian did it in 1 hour 30 mins and 12 seconds. The race quickly went from something that was a bit of fun to something much more challenging.
On the day I was a little nervous. Not wanting to let people down, as I had team from my running club, Tynedale Harriers, helping me collect the verification data Guinness needed. During the first six miles of the race I enjoyed spotting people in the crowd and waving. The last half of the race was, however, a grind. I was red hot inside in the costume. It began to feel like the finish line would never arrive. But, at last, I made it.
My final time was 1 hour and 29 minutes. 72 seconds faster than my Australasian nemesis. But, still, admittedly, a full 30 minutes behind the amazing Sir Mo.