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.
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:
5 Ikea FLYNN Laundry baskets
4 Suspenders (from Target)
Velcro 2″ straps (6 straps total)
8 baby socks
1 big bag of stuffing
Sheets of black felt
Googley eyes (2 sets, in case one broke)
Fabric for body (green), stripes (yellow/black) and face/body
Needles & various thread
Dozens of safety pins
Hot glue gun & sticks
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.
How did we come up with the idea for the caterpillar?
This was probably the area that took the most time (next to the actual costume build) there were a lot of 4 person costume ideas thrown around – but finding the one that would fit our group dynamic and become viable. And also our key requirement was to make it unique and fun!
We came up with a short list of ideas and then started to bounce ideas around with friends and our run club, Dog Haus Run Club (DHRC) in Pasadena, CA. I recall at the original inspiration that we thought would work was a “slinky” from Michelle Hernandez at DHRC. Somehow that idea morphed into a “slinky caterpillar” which since the slinky is flexible and would give the costume some bounce. In the end you wouldn’t know our caterpillar is a slinky, however, the costume functions the same – beneath the shiny sequence fabric.
The idea for the Caterpillar just kind of stuck, and we came up with this original mockup of the costume during our flight to run the San Francisco Marathon this past July.
(Yes, it looks like it was created in Microsoft Paint… but I we Photoshop…)
What was the inspiration for running the Berlin Marathon?
During a visit to the Oktoberfest celebration in Torrance, CA – we thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to visit the real Oktoberfest and run the prestigious Berlin marathon? (I’m sure not everyone thinks of running a marathon with a beer in hand, but we’ve met a few folks at the Dog Haus Running Club that are like minded.) Once the seed was planted, we were able to secure 4 entires into the marathon a few months later. (It’s all a lottery system, this 40k+ marathon sells out every year so be sure to register with a group of friends.)
My group of friends and I have been running marathons together for the last few years, and decided to attempt to break the record for the 4 person marathon in a 4 person costume. As a group we’ve raced about 6 marathons between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The team consists of Sarah Mattison, Chain Lee, Nam Gip and myself.
Since the Berlin Marathon is known for the fastest marathon in the world (and we would never come close to that in this lifetime) we thought a Guinness world record would be pretty epic!