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
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,