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Guinness World Records reverse sexist category to award NHS nurse her rightful marathon record

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Hannah Mendelsohn
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Runners in the London Marathon

Nurses everywhere can rejoice as the Guinness World Records listened to their tweets and awarded Jessica Anderson her rightful London marathon record.

It’s been a good day for equality on Twitter. After nurses shared images of themselves in uniform to expose the stereotypical nature of a Guinness World Records’ (GWR) requirement, the company have taken note and awarded Jessica Anderson the world record for fastest marathon run in a nurse’s uniform.

Anderson, who is a senior sister at the Royal London Hospital, completed the London Marathon wearing scrubs, the uniform she wears day-in day-out on the ward. Her time of three hours, eight minutes and twenty-two seconds, however, wasn’t eligible to replace the previous record of three hours, eight minutes and fifty-four seconds since the category required runners to wear a supposedly traditional nurse’s dress.

Before the race GWR had declined Anderson’s application because of her outfit choice. After she successfully ran a faster time, the injustice was picked up by the press prompting GWR to announce a review of their category.

In a statement on their website they announced the reversal of their decision, stating: “Our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate.”

They went on to say: “We unreservedly apologise and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson’s application.” GWR are now modernising the nurse category so that the guidelines reflect the scrubs and uniforms currently worn by nurses in the UK and worldwide.

What’s more GWR have decided to review over 200 of their marathon titles “to ensure we do not allow any costumes which bring a profession or any other subject into disrepute. Any we discover will be either amended to reflect modern standards, or deactivated.”

GWR said they have notified Anderson who is yet to respond publically but she is sure to be pleased, having said to Runner’s World: “It would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria instead of reinforcing old gender stereotypes.”

It goes to show that public pressure can be effective, even when it’s as simple as tweeting a picture of your uniform.

Image: Getty

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Hannah Mendelsohn

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