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Funny Running: Pushing an Orange to a World Record

... a mile on hands and knees, propelling an orange in front of you ...

2004-08-17

Any distance runner would like to set a record, thats only natural. But how do you do it, since Bekele, Gebrselassie and Tergat dominate the scene? A former marathon runner of international calibre found the answer. You find a world record that no-one in Addis Ababa or Kenyas Ngong Hills would be so mad as to try to waste time doing.

Thats how Geoff Wightman from Britain, possessor of an admirable personal best for the marathon of 2:13:17 and a participant in the 1990 European Championships in Split, found his challenge: pushing an orange with his nose four times round a track. In other words, a mile on hands and knees, propelling an orange in front of you. And this wasn just any old day for the world record attempt, it was May 6, 2004, 60 years to the day that Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile.

Wearing the black and light blue stripes of Dartford Harrier, a long established south London club, Wightman went to the startline. Preparations had been ideal, hed "crawled" three time trials over 400, 800 and 1200 metres, though his nose and knees were left feeling especially tender.
At trackside stood the timekeeper, another official was ready with the video camera and a crowd of Wightmans clubmates were ready to lend support. Though he wasn exactly in the role of pacemaker, his brother Derek was also on the startline and would set off 30 seconds behind him.

Crawled right to the end and a world record in 44 minutes, 22 seconds ...
Shortly before half past five, the gun went off. His brother gave up after three laps in 42 minutes, but Geoff crawled right to the end and a world record in 44 minutes, 22 seconds. Geoff Wightman had achieved his place in the "Guinness Book of Records". From whom had he taken the record? No-one knew but the new world record holder, surrounded by celebrating supporters, was sure of one thing, he would never try this again! His nose, knees and stomach muscles told him so. And one last curiosity, he finished a few minutes after six in the evening,

Andy Edwards


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