Shrewsbury School cross-country team smash the Marathon World Record

In a bid to raise funds for two projects in Africa, 16 members of Shrewsbury School’s cross-country running club (known as the Hunt) and four members of staff broke the Marathon World Record last weekend. Running individual 400-metre sprints in relay, the team ran the 26 miles in 1 hour 57 minutes and 3 seconds, smashing the World Record set in Berlin at the end of September by Kenyan athlete Wilson Kipsang by 6 minutes.

Ian Haworth, Master in Charge of Athletics at Shrewsbury, explained: “We wanted to try and set our own unofficial record for the marathon, both as a mark of respect to Wilson Kipsang’s incredible achievement and to raise funds for two charities that the Hunt is supporting during our trip to Kenya and Ethiopia during half term -  Running Across Borders, which supports running programmes for young people in Ethiopia, and the Sanata Restart Centre, which cares for and educates orphans and streetchildren from the town of Gilgil, Kenya. 

“We calculated that by breaking the distance up into 105.5 sections of 400m sprints and running as a team in relay, we might have some hope of getting close to Kipsang’s time. We knew that we would need to average less than 70.1 seconds per 400m, and that every one of us would need to do five laps or more.”

At the halfway point, the team were just a few seconds ahead of the World Record for the Half Marathon, but admitted that tiredness was beginning to set in. However, they were delighted to achieve their goal and complete the full marathon distance six minutes faster than Kipsang’s time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

“More than anything, this exercise impressed on all of us the incredible speed that top marathon runners maintain for over two hours,” said Ian. “We left the track – though certainly with a great deal of satisfaction – feeling absolutely in awe of the athletic prowess of world-class marathon runners like Wilson Kipsang. For those of us about to embark on our journey to Kenya and Ethiopia, it gave us a real insight into the speed these people can hold and the training and commitment required to achieve it, and whetted our appetite for the wonderful opportunity to meet such sporting heroes.”

Twelve members of the Hunt set off for East Africa on Saturday, where they will spend time training at altitude with some of the best athletes in the world. Yesterday (Monday 21st October) they visited the Sanata Restart Centre in Kenya and were delighted to be able to hand over the money they had raised. Next week, they look forward to handing over the money they have raised for the Running Across Borders project in Ethiopia.

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