A nurse wearing scrubs ran last week's London Marathon fast enough to break the women's Guinness World Record for fastest marathon in a nurse's uniform, but Guinness World Records initially denied the nurse the record-breaking title because she wore scrubs instead of a dress, which Guinness described as the official attire required for the record.
Following public outage—including tweets from nurses under the hashtag #WhyNursesWear—Guinness reversed its decision and awarded the nurse, Jessica Anderson, the title.
Guinness rejects nurse's world record application
Anderson, a nurse at Royal London Hospital, decided to go for the Guinness World Record for running the London Marathon in a nurse's uniform to raise money for Bart's Charity, an organization that helps fund acute admissions at her hospital.
On April 28, Anderson ran the race in 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 22 seconds, beating the 2015 World Record by 30 seconds.
However, Guinness said it would not recognize the record-breaking time because of what Anderson wore.
Anderson applied to be a contender for breaking the record in February. At the time, Guinness informed her that the photo she'd attached of her nurse uniform outfit for the race—a blue scrub top and pants—did not meet Guinness' criteria for a nurse uniform. According to Guinness, such a uniform should include a white or blue dress, pinafore apron, and white cap.
Anderson told the Washington Post, "That didn't feel right to me." So, she wrote to Guinness, telling them that she found the criteria "outdated and frankly quite sexist."
Referring to her scrubs, Anderson said, "This is my actual nursing uniform which I wear to work, and it baffles me that it doesn't qualify as a costume for an attempt at 'fastest marathon in a nurse's uniform.'"
Guinness replied, telling her that the outfit she planned to wear was too similar to the outfit for "fastest marathon dressed as a doctor." The reply noted that other costumes, such as those for a chef or Scout, required similar "older fashioned costumes." The reply also pointed out that the nurse costume requirements—a dress and pinafore apron—apply to male runners as well.
At that point, it was too late for Anderson to reapply, so she ran the race in her scrubs. "[I]t was too late to resubmit, but I didn't want to change my outfit anyway."
Guinness' decision prompts #WhatNursesWear Twitter backlash
After Anderson ran the race in record time, news that Guinness wouldn't award her the title because of her attire sparked outrage among nurses.
Here are some of the Tweets:
— Anna Marks (@Anna_Marks123) May 5, 2019
— Adam Hughes (@berniethenurse) May 5, 2019
— HelloMyNameIsCharlotte 🌻🌻 (@_CharlottePerth) May 5, 2019
Guinness changes course, awards Anderson the title
Shortly after Anderson's situation gained attention, Guinness released a statement, saying it would reconsider the criteria for the fastest marathon dressed as a nurse title. "It is quite clear that this record title and associated guidelines is long overdue a review, which we will conduct as a priority in the coming days," the statement read.
On Tuesday, Guinness revised its previous stance and announced that it would recognize Anderson as the record holder. The organization in the statement agreed that the costume requirements were "outdated and incorrect" and said it plans to introduce new guidelines that better represent what nurses today wear.
In the statement, Guinness SVP Samantha Fay said, "Having received the official timings from London Marathon this morning we are pleased to award Jessica with the Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse's uniform …. [W]e unreservedly apologize and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson's application" (Magra, New York Times, 5/5; Paul, Washington Post, 5/5; Hobson, RunnersWorld.UK, 5/3; Guinness statement, 5/7).
Make every week 'Nurses Week': 5 ways to recognize nurses year-round
It's easy to recognize nurses during 'Nurses Week' and other times when there are awards and ceremonies. But nurse recognition can't just come with these events—staff also want to feel appreciated for their daily contributions and valued as professionals.
Join this webconference on Wednesday, June 19 at 1 pm ET to learn how to extend the spirit of Nurses Week all year round.