Wearing steel-toed boots, fire-retardant gear and helmet, Noel D’arcy is gunning to smash a world record for the fastest marathon in a firefighting uniform at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon in May.
The Olds volunteer firefighter has to beat 3:41:10, which was set by an Irish runner in June 2014.
D’arcy’s fastest marathon without gear is around three hours and four minutes. So the record isn’t entirely out of reach.
But the 30-year-old will be carrying 45 pounds of extra weight. Oddly enough, D’arcy took up running to drop a few pounds a couple years ago. His full firefighting gear is equivalent to his weight loss.
“I thought I would like to give it a try,” said D’arcy, who is originally from northwest Ireland in the County of Limerick. “Whether I can do it or not is yet to be determined.”
Training began after the Guinness World Records gave D’arcy the green light in mid-January. There’s a rigorous screening process before the record keepers officially allow someone to take a run at a record. D’arcy submitted his application in October.
He got the idea to do it after reading about his countryman beating the record in an Irish paper online.
The biggest challenge so far has been running in the heavy boots.
“I am trying to run in my turnout gear as much as I can,” said D’arcy. “The boots are cutting my heels. The first time I wore my boots, I went out and ran 2K and I couldn’t run for two weeks afterwards.”
The Olds Fire Fighter’s association chipped in to buy a more comfortable pair of boots. D’arcy has been taping his feet and he even went up a size in boots.
“Even though they are good boots, they are not designed for running,” said D’arcy.
In order to challenge the record, D’arcy must wear his full uniform. D’arcy expects he will get the boots sorted out before the race. He’s been hitting the gym hard to work on his strength.
“I fear the temperature that my body is going to get to,” said D’arcy. “For that world record, that gear has to be zipped up. That gear has to be done up.”
He is allowed to remove some gear at an aid station, for example, but he is not allowed to take a step forward. An official on a bike will follow with a video camera to record the entire 42.2K.
D’arcy says he doesn’t plan to stop too often to unzip because he does not want to lose time. Hydration will be key to his success.
“It is a really difficult record,” said D’arcy. “It hasn’t been broken in 10 years. Not a lot of people have attempted it.”
He is also fundraising for the Olds Fire Fighters Association in their campaign to raise money and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
To donate or to find out more, visit www.calgarymarathon.com
Send your column ideas, photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter and Instagram.