When Jessica Anderson finished the London Marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds this past April, she beat a very specific record for the fastest woman to run the marathon while dressed as a nurse. But she was told that her accomplishment was void because her blue scrubs did not comply with the uniform criteria — which, according to Guinness World Record Rules, had to include a blue or white dress, an apron and a cap.
The incident sparked accusations of sexism and prompted nurses to take to Twitter to share photos of their real-life work get-ups. And now, as the New York Times reports, Guinness has announced that it has reversed its decision and will acknowledge Anderson’s record.
“[I]t has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate,” Samantha Fay, the organization’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “[W]e unreservedly apologise and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson’s application.”
Fay added that the nurse’s uniform category was created along with several other titles “to match the already large appetite for running the marathon in fancy dress.” But in light of the recent incident, Guinness has decided to “no longer allow fancy dress clothing for this category and will introduce guidelines which reflect the clothes worn by nurses in the U.K. and around the world.”
Anderson works at the Royal London Hospital, and she ran the marathon to raise money for Barts Charity, which supports staff and researchers at several London hospitals. She hoped to raise £500 (around $650) for the organization; she has now accrued more than £5,000 in donations.
Writing on Instagram, Anderson said she was “delighted” by Guinness’ decision to review its criteria for the title. Because she had contacted the organization before running the race, Anderson added, she knew that she would not be considered for the record if she ran in pants. But she decided to wear her scrubs anyways.
“For me the issue went beyond achieving a world record,” Anderson wrote. “While nursing uniforms vary, one thing they have in common is that they are designed for professional women AND men who care for people in all sorts of ways across the world. I would have been doing a disservice to my profession if I had worn a fancy dress costume.”
Read more at the New York Times.