Kevin Summerhayes Cardiff Half Marathon Blog Post
October 02, 2016
My challenge was to break the Guinness Word Record of 1:48:24 for a half marathon in full fire kit at Cardiff half marathon 2016!!
A colleague of mine said on the way back from a fire call one day, 'why don't you try and break the record for half marathon in fire kit' That was it, I now had this firmly wedged in my head! Word quickly spread around station and everyone there was supporting the idea. I submitted my application to Guinness world records and sent off my kit to be verified.
There was no turning back now. I put together a training programme and decided to show my preparation and have some fun online via social media in a bid to gain more donations for The Firefighters Charity.
I took part in various events in the lead up to the half marathon in fire kit, minus the boots, as they were always way to taxing on the feet... too many blisters! I trained in the full kit once a week, around this mixed it up to get used to running with the extra weight, the training was a massive drain and I struggled to keep weight on, I remember eating literally anything and everything and still the weight would still fall off.
Donations started to pour in and I gained huge support and soon radio, tv and newspapers were starting to cover the build up. One of the great memories was to be invited to take the final preparations for Alfie's Angels a BBC Wales show.
Fast forward to the day of the event.
I was lucky enough to assemble a massive support team of over 30 firefighters who joined me to run on the day.
Running in the fire kit is not easy or enjoyable, it felt like a constant juggle from one difficulty to another. The heat exhaustion is extreme and I had to consistently drink every 3 minutes to battle dehydration, I think in total I had 15 bottles of water. The weight of the kit was so tiring and I felt my legs were ready to cramp anytime from 8 mile in. The helmet is surprisingly very comfortable, but catches all the heat under the lip and my face felt like a furnace because of this. None of this compared to the excruciating pain of the fire boots, they started rubbing from about 3 miles in and got progressively worse as miles went on, the sweat was running down my leg into the boots and was squelching, throughout the last mile the one boot was slipping off and I was trying to stamp it back on.
I look back and wonder how I did it, but it was the constant cheering of the crowd and the brilliant support team from the firefighters running with me the whole way round that pushed me through! In total I am proud to have raised over £6425 for The Firefighters Charity.
Once I had crossed the line, I knew it was touch and go as to whether I had broken the world record. We waited all afternoon for the official time to be sent, the unofficial time was sent to me at first, it came in at 1:48:23 which would have beaten the record by a second, I was so relieved and pleased that this could be a perfect finish to this journey. All the firefighters waited at Cardiff central station for the official time to be text through. Of course I really wanted to beat the record, but the journey towards the event and the incredible amount of support I received from colleagues and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service alone really meant alot to me, it was the togetherness and team effort that really mattered. Literally everyone I know in the job was either running with me, collecting money for The Fire fighters charity around the crowds, or cheering us on from the side!
When the official time 1:48:24 came through I was elated , I'm hoping surely that means I'm a joint Guinness world record holder, but one of my colleagues shouted 'that won't do, you'll have to challenge the American to a race off .... we'll come!'
I needed to find out the time to the 100th of a second to submit it to Guinness World Records, so I chased down the exact time and eventually spoke to someone later on, from the chip time company and they confirmed to me I had In fact actually got 1:48:23! I was ecstatic to have officially beaten the existing record, I couldn't believe it. I've received ridiculous amounts of very kind messages and incredible amounts of donations, may it continue.
Thank you everyone for making this such a great memory for myself and colleagues.
Many thanks to my supportive wife Emily, and my 2 boys Joshua and Isaac.