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Nurses challenge ‘gender stereotypes’ behind marathon world record denial

Record attempt while dressed as a nurse ‘would only count if you're wearing a skirt’

Record attempt while dressed as a nurse ‘would only count if you're wearing a skirt’

Jessica Anderson finishing the London Marathon. Picture: Instagram

An NHS nurse who was told her London Marathon world record attempt would not count unless she was wearing a skirt has received a wave of support from across the profession.

Barts Health NHS Trust senior sister Jessica Anderson had wanted to attempt to be the quickest woman to run a marathon dressed as a nurse when she ran the 26.2 mile course on 28 April wearing scrubs with trousers.

She crossed the finish line in a record 3.08:22, but had been told by Guinness World Records (GWR) that her record would only count if she was wearing a skirt.

‘Too much like a doctor’s uniform’

GWR said scrubs were too close to its fancy dress requirements for a doctor’s uniform. Its rules meant a nurse’s uniform must include a blue or white dress, a pinafore apron and a traditional nurse’s cap.

Ms Anderson told Runner’s World magazine that GWR was reinforcing ‘old gender stereotypes’. She said: ‘Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses, but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers.’

Ms Anderson, who raised more than £2,200 for her trust doing the race, said: ‘I’m sure Guinness World Records don’t intend to cause offence, but it would be nice if they decided to revise their criteria.’

Nurses – including England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May – took to Twitter over the weekend to show the range of nurses’ uniforms, using the hashtag #whatnurseswear.

The official world record for a woman running a marathon in a nurse’s uniform is held by Sarah Dudgeon, who set a time of 3:08:54 in 2015.

On Saturday GWR said it would review its costume policy for the category.

Immediate review of the attempt

GWR senior vice president Samantha Fay said: ‘Guinness World Records takes the matters of equality and inclusiveness very seriously. We have recognised the need for an immediate review of this attempt and the fastest marathon dressed as a nurse category and associated guidelines, which we will begin as a priority.

‘We are also committed to consistent reviews of all record categories to ensure they reflect the world we live in today.’

Meanwhile, another records organisation, the Official World Record, said on Sunday it had held an extraordinary session to discuss Ms Anderson’s case and was in the process of registering her record.

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