Photo of man and woman at a fundraising event, in spectrum next to quote

 

Meet Oliver Jones, assistant Cub leader at 1st Liskeard Scouts and dad to an autistic daughter. Oliver ran the Virgin Money London Marathon for the National Autistic Society in just 2 hours, 41 minutes and 45 seconds, breaking the World Record for ‘The Fastest Marathon in a Scout Uniform’ and raising over £4,000 for our charity.

We caught up with Oliver to find out what it feels like to break a world record and why he’s fundraising for the National Autistic Society…

Why did you run the London Marathon for the National Autistic Society?

I ran for the National Autistic Society last year. I was so impressed with the support and encouragement that the fundraising team gave in the build up to the marathon and also on the event of the day itself that I ran for the National Autistic Society again this year.

Why did you decide to run dressed in a Scout Uniform?

Two years ago, I thought of going for a world record dressed in a crazy costume, such as a fruit. Running the Virgin Money London Marathon dressed in my Scout uniform seemed like a great world record to attempt, particularly when I found out there was an existing record to beat.

When did you realise it might be possible to break a world record?

When I was about 10 miles into the marathon and had been running for under an hour. I set myself a target of 1 hour 26 minutes to run the marathon halfway, so when I reached the half way point in just 1 hour 17 minutes, I realised I was running well.

What was it like running such a long way in your Scout uniform?

It was slightly uncomfortable, as I was wearing a cotton shirt, my neckerchief (each Scout group has a neckerchief associated with their troop) and a Scout cap which wasn’t running specific. I was concerned about overheating in my outfit, but was so relieved that the weather was cool and breezy on the day of the marathon. I did feel hot in the face about twenty miles into the run.

How did you train for the marathon? Did you train for the marathon in your Scout uniform so you would be more likely to break the record?

I trained like I normally do for a marathon. As I have three young children, a lot of my early runs were at 5am on a Sunday morning, getting home at around 8am just as the family were waking up! I also run three miles every lunchtime and add a few miles by running a daily mile with some of the classes I teach.

Was there ever a moment during the race that you doubted you would make the record?

I was concerned before the start as I found out there were two other people going for the same record on the day of the race. I saw one Scout before the start of the race and we stood eyeing each other up. I think we both looked deflated. He looked like a serious runner, and I imagine I looked like a serious runner to him. I thought I just had to beat the current world record time of 2:54:44, but now, I also had to beat two fellow Scouts to the finish line. That spurred me on for sure! I hope that nobody attempts to beat my time for a few years, so I can retain my record.

What did it feel like when you crossed the finish line?

Amazing, as I had the most perfect run! I not only got my personal best for a marathon time but beat the world record by 17 minutes!

What has the reaction from the Scouts been like?

The reception by Scouts has been brilliant. I felt very humbled and proud to be part of the Scouting network and there was incredible support during the race.

Do you think Scouts can help create a world that works for autistic people?

Scouts can help to educate people and promote awareness of the challenges that autistic people can face, such as anxiety with unexpected changes, sensory overload, social anxiety or meltdowns.

This will help autistic people feel comfortable and welcome at Scouts, and help autistic people and their families who are isolated feel connected to a community. I feel this could be achieved by running some courses for Scout Leaders, or by producing a document about how to support autistic people to Scout section leaders.

Any advice for autistic people or fundraisers who are thinking about getting into marathon running?

Start by walking and increase the distance slowly. My main advice is to try and run further gradually over a 12-16 week programme and follow a marathon guide.

What is another world record you would like to attempt?

‘The Fastest Marathon in a Scout Uniform’ is it for me. One day, I might attempt a world record for the fastest teacher. My world record attempt would have to be something relevant to my life and not too hot a costume.

 

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