The London Marathon wasn’t all plain sailing for one city runner – but he did break a world record in the process.
Stephen Richardson broke the ‘Fastest marathon dressed as a sailor’ record to earn his place in the Guinness Book of Records.
The 33-year-old battled it out with a fairy as he raced to complete the final part of the 26 mile race in an impressive two hours and 52 minutes.
Stephen, who finished second in last year’s Milton Keynes Marathon, said he was ‘in quite a lot of pain and suffering in the last six miles of the race’. But not only did he smash the sailor record by more than half an hour, he also came in ahead of his fairy opponent.
The UBS Investment Bank director clocked up more than 800 miles while training for the race and has already raised almost £700 for the Caudwell Children charity.
He said: “I didn’t think I could get much faster, so to make it a bit more enjoyable I decided I’d do it for charity.
“Marathon runners are quite selfish to an extent, so this year was about putting a little bit back.”
Stephen decided to run the race for Caudwell Children after the charity provided a course of therapy for his 11-year-old nephew, Harry Browne, who has autism.
“Little Harry means a lot to all the family and I was proud to be fundraising in his name,” he said.
“Caudwell Children have been a lifeline for the family and I hope the money we raise means another family gets support.
“Thoughts of my nephew were going through my head in the last six miles.”
Stephen’s sailors outfit consisted of white trousers, a heavy polyester top and a natty sailor’s hat – prompting plenty of ‘Hello Sailor!’ shouts from the London crowd.
“It was a strange feeling to run around the Cutty Sark dressed as a sailor,” he added.
“Interacting with the crowd was good fun, it seemed they appreciated the outfit. Some people smiled, some pointed, some cackled among their group.
“My favourite shout out was ‘come on sailor boy’ followed by ‘ohh sailor’. References to Popeye were also frequent.”
Stephen chose to run as a sailor after organisers rejected his first choice of a Morph suit as ‘not challenging enough’.
Ironically, he bumped into the previous world record holder at the start line – he was dressed as an astronaut.
“It was fun at the start as all the people in fancy dress were together.
“The guy who held the record was running as an astronaut this year. He wished me the best of luck and he ended up breaking the astronaut record, so he gained one and lost one on the day.”
Stephen, whose best ever marathon time of two hours and 42 minutes came when finishing second in last year’s MK Marathon, is set to race in his tenth marathon at MK on May 6 this year.
He said this year’s training was more focused on coping with the heat than speed.
“I ran my last practice run in trousers and throughout the winter I was going out with three or four tops on.
“The sailor’s suit definitely slowed me down. It was a good dress rehersal as the trousers kept falling down.
“During the actual race I felt overheated, like I was sitting in a sauna.
“The big factor slowing me down wasn’t the mechanics of the suit, it was the heat that was trapped in it.
“If it was freezing cold or Nike made a breathable sailors suit then it would not have slowed me down as much.
“As I crossed the line I was almost immediatley congratulated and handed the world record plaque. It was incredibly emotional.”
Stephen runs for David Lloyd Redway Runners, which he calls ‘the friendliest running club I have come across’.
He said: “They have an inclusive culture where they appreciate every member no matter how fast or slow they run and put the emphasis on the fun aspects of running, which is why they have supported my record attempt so well.
“They are also closely aligned to the Milton Keynes Parkrun, the weekly run that has helped me go from an average runner to a slightly better than average runner. Milton Keynes is full of potential record breakers.”
Chairman of the club, MArtin Lawrence, said it had about 20 to 30 runners in the marathon.
“I think Stephen’s world record really fits in with the ethos and style of our running club.”
Stephen has so far raised £671 for Caudwell Children. People can still sponsor him by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FastestSailor
> Stephen wasn’t the only world record breaker on the day.
New record holders include everyone from Jack Sparrow to Napoleon.
Film character costume (male) David Stone (as Jack Sparrow) 2hours 42mins 15secs
Nurse’s uniform (male) Michael Harris 2:48:24
Sailor Stephen Richardson 2:52:32
Suit (male) - business suit Joe Elliot 2:58:03
Lifeguard Carl Smith 3:00:01
School uniform (male) Sam Hull 3:02:53
School uniform (female) Sophie Wood 3:14:34
Astronaut Subhashis Basu 3:19:37
Insect (female) Laura Bartlett (as a bee) 3:24:10
Wetsuit David Ross 3:25:00
Carrying a 40lb pack Mike Ellicock 3:25:21
Martial arts suit (female) Victoria Carter 3:30:14
Animal costume, full body (male) Bruce Moore 3:31:36
Military Dress Olivier Hamar (as Napoleon) 3:47:14
Nurse’s uniform (female) Emma Blair 3:48:34
Internal Organ (male) Alan Blair (as a heart) 3:48:34
Doctor (female) Fiona Smith Jenkinson 3:59:15
Mascot (female) Wendy Shaw (as Alfie) 4:02:56
Internal Organ (female) Katherine Stephens (as a brain) 4:28:36
Shoe Lucie Barney 4:40:56
Dribbling a football Alan Simeoni 5:10:46
Carrying an 80lb pack Roscoe Nash 5:58:58
Longest scarf knitted while running a marathon Susie Hewer 2.05m in 5:54:23