All of the training paid off, we were able to finish with an official completion time of 4:53:33, which was 10 minutes faster than the previous record! We can honestly say this was one of the best experiences of our running career, to be running with folks in another Country and have them waiving and reacting to our costume while running. Some of our favorite memories of the run:
Mile 14 is where things got real. There was a lot of pain, and the reality of having to finish 10 more miles to go
Run/Walk schedule was important for this marathon, it’s difficult to run so close together
The look on the little kids faces when they saw the caterpillar comping up! Some of them just lost it and started dancing around and waiving their hands!
Crowds. The fine folks of Berlin at every corner of the run cheering us on.
Running into other runners from home, making it feel like such a small world.
We’re blessed to have had such a wonderful experience at the 2017 Berlin Marathon. Thank you to all of our friends and family that have helped us out along the way, our crazy Dog Haus Run Club and everyone else who thought we could pull off this whacky run record.
In order to give breaking the current Guinness World Record (4 person marathon in a costume [previous time was 5:10]) a try, a few training runs would be required to work out the kinks of the costume. The real challenge here was keeping all 4 teammates training for running a regular marathon, and making time to try out these test costume runs. Everyone’s schedules were erratic, so we would frequently have to swap out runners for other friends that were crazy enough to run with us.
Luckily the 4 of us were already accustomed to a marathon training schedules, so it would be a matter of incorporating some mileage in with the costume on. We would run our normal weekly workouts, and on the weekends we would throw in a few miles with the costume during the long runs:
3 mile short run- prototype run
8 mile long run – 6 miles regular, 3 miles in costume
16 mile long run – 8 miles in costume, followed by 8 miles regular run
3 mile short run – dress rehearsal before the marathon
1 mile test run – day before the Berlin Marathon (make sure the thing didn’t fall apart!)
Total training miles while in costume: 19miles (~30k)
We definitely got some funny looks running around, especially during a training run around the Rose Bowl where one of the eyeballs fell off! We learned to not use hot glue gun in California weather races, and fixed this with the help of liquid nails. A few lessons learned we gained from the training runs:
Backpacks – Good for distributing the weight of the costume
Modify the suspenders to be shorter
Running cadence, we found a way to “sync” up our feet if we kicked each other too much
Hot glue gun isn’t strong enough (use liquid nails) for running costumes
All in all, the hardest part was trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules and get a few good runs in.
Creating the first version of the costume was pretty simple, we had an Ikea laundry basket laying around along with some suspenders. Since we didn’t want to look too strange running around with metal coils, we bought a few pieces of fabric from the store to cover it up. Here’s a breakdown of the materials used:
We weren’t sure how the costume would come together, but we decided the best way would be to clip the suspenders to the coils directly and reinforce it with a keyring in case it broke off. For the front and back of the coils we added some duct tape to make a small belt in between so the coils wouldn’t stretch too much. Safety pinned on the fabric and voila!
We took the first version of the costume for a 5K run around Pasadena and it held up surprisingly well, the suspender clips did not come off and the safety pins didn’t tear the fabric. All good signs that a costume with these materials might hold up for an entire marathon distance. A little embarrassing at first showing up to our run club with this on, but everyone was supportive and gave us some ideas for the next revision of the costume.
Race Costume Prepration
We had approximately 2 months to build out and thoroughly stress test the costume during some runs, longer than 5K, before the Berlin Marathon. It took a few weekends to get the prototype put together, as it takes multiple people to model the costume. Having a successful run with the prototype, we started work on pulling together the supplies we needed for the full build. This list was revised many times during our trial and error period, but should mark items that were actually used for construction:
Most of the materials for the body, stripes, head and bottom were acquired in Downtown Los Angeles, we took a few trips to the garment district to select fabrics and eventually found the googley eyes.
Close up of the material selected for the body of the caterpillar, a really nice sequenced material in green! Best of all, this fabric was light and airy and wasn’t too expensive compared to others we encountered.
Putting it all together
Assembly and testing of the costume was a huge group effort, we had friends and family come by at differnt hours of the night to lend a hand in sewing, glueing, modeling, etc. Lots of pizzas and sodas were consumed in the making of this little guy.