Guinness World Records (GWR) has admitted it “mishandled” the case of a nurse who ran in the London Marathon but was denied a record because she was wearing scrubs rather than a dress.
Jessica Anderson has now been handed the record for the fastest marathon run wearing a nurse’s uniform, said GWR in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are pleased to award Jessica with the Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform
The organisation also said it had banned fancy dress in future for those running in the category, in favour of genuine nurse uniforms.
It follows the furore that emerged on social media site Twitter during Friday evening, when it was revealed that Ms Anderson had initially been blocked from attaining the record.
Ms Anderson ran the London Marathon this year wearing her nurses’ uniform, aiming to beat the current record of 3:08:54, reported Runner’s World. She subsequently ran the marathon in 3:08:22.
She was told in February that she had missed the deadline for entering the event for running fancy dress but was also informed that her record would not have been recognised in any event, as the rules dictated that people running in costume as nurses must wear a dress.
She was running in aid of the Barts Charity to raise money for the staff and unit at the acute admissions unit at the Royal London Hospital, where she has worked for nearly seven years.
“Moreover, we have taken the decision to no longer allow fancy dress clothing for this category”
Ms Anderson’s story prompted an outcry on social media site Twitter on Saturday, with the chief nursing officers of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland among those condemning the rules and posting pictures of themselves wearing scrubs.
Nursing Times student editor Craig Davidson also started a social media campaign called #WhatNursesWear and was due to hold a Tweetchat about the issue on Thursday.
GWR subsequently told Nursing Times on Sunday that it was reviewing the rules surrounding record breaking run attempts by people dressed as nurses are to be reviewed as a “priority”.
It has now gone further by issuing a lengthy and apologetic statement on Tuesday, attributed to Samantha Fay, senior vice president of GWR.
She said: “Over the weekend it has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate.
“We are pleased to award Jessica with the Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform for her attempt on Sunday 28 April, and have notified her as such,” she stated.
She said: “I want to take this opportunity to reassure everybody concerned that Guinness World Records is absolutely committed to ensuring we uphold the highest standards of equality and inclusiveness.
“Therefore, we unreservedly apologise and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson’s application,” said Ms Fay.
She added: “Moreover, we have taken the decision to no longer allow fancy dress clothing for this category and will introduce guidelines which reflect the clothes worn by nurses in the UK and around the world.”
She highlighted that the organisation’s “original plan” had been to create a “handful of record titles to match the already large appetite for running the marathon in fancy dress”.
As a result, it noted that seven people ran the marathon in 2007 with the aim of achieving a world record in fancy dress, which had risen sharply over the years to 87 in the 2019 event.
Ms Fay said: “The review of this category is the first review of each one of our 200+ marathon titles we will be conducting as a priority, 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,” she added.