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NHS nurse denied London Marathon record attempt – because she wasn't wearing a dress

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Anna Brech
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Runners compete in the London Marathon 2019

A nurse who competed in this year’s London Marathon was denied her record attempt, solely because she was dressed in trousers

Organisers for the Guinness World Records (GWR) say they will review their entry requirements, after an NHS nurse was denied a marathon record attempt – because she wasn’t wearing a dress. 

Jessica Anderson ran last week’s London Marathon despite knowing that her effort to become the fastest female marathon runner dressed as a nurse would not count, because she was dressed in scrubs and trousers.

Current GWR guidelines indicate that competitors in the category should wear a blue or white dress with a pinafore on top, and a traditional white nurse’s cap. 

Anderson, who completed the race in 3:08:22, says she was “quite taken aback” when her application was turned down. 

“I get that it’s supposed to be a fun thing but their definition is just so outdated,” she told Runner’s World. “Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers. I’ve certainly never seen a male nurse wearing a dress to work.

“I’m sure Guinness World Records don’t intend to cause offence but it would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria instead of reinforcing old gender stereotypes,” she added. 

When Anderson’s admission was first rejected by GWR earlier this year, she contacted the organisation to ask if it would reconsider. 

Coordinators again denied her entry, saying she had missed the deadline for submissions. They also explained the reasoning behind their demand for such an outdated nurse’s outfit, saying it was to differentiate it from those competing in the fastest-running doctors’ section. 

In a tweet this weekend, GWR said it was “aware” of the controversy around Anderson’s rejected record attempt. 

“We will be reviewing this record title as a priority over the coming days,” it said. “It is quite clear that this record title and associated guidelines is long overdue a review.”

The current record for the fastest running female marathon runner dressed as a nurse stands at 3:08:54.

So, if her achievement were recognised, Anderson would have set a new world record by a staggering 22-second lead. 

The runner raised over £2,000 for Barts Charity, which supports the Acute Admissions Unit at the Royal London Hospital, where she has worked for the past seven years.

Images:  Getty, Instagram

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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