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Student gets on his mark for world record attempt

Student from Birmingham Conservatoire mixes his love of both music and athletics to attempt a Guinness World Record

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | March 28, 2017 | People

A student from Birmingham Conservatoire will attempt to run the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument.

Donning a custom-made viola costume, Alistair Rutherford will be running the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday 2 April.   

Created by Merseyside-based designer Brian D Hanlon, the outfit is made from lightweight Plastazote foam and comes complete with a striking headpiece that mimics the shape of the viola’s neck and pegbox.

Alistair hopes to raise funds for the collaborative UK-South African project, Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music & Birmingham Conservatoire – or ARCO, which is also the name for the technique of playing a stringed instrument with a bow.

ARCO has seen 24 strings students aged between eight and 16 in South Africa selected to participate in weekly instrumental Skype lessons, given by academics, current students and alumni of Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University.

ARCO aims to provide the benefits and life changing inspiration of music to children in the most deprived of circumstances. As well as providing transformative music education activities, Conservatoire staff and students – including Alistair – have been acting as role models for vulnerable youngsters living in Soweto, a Johannesburg township deeply affected by poverty and crime.

Running the Liverpool Half Marathon is just one of several fundraising events Alistair has organised in aid of ARCO. Last year, the violist ran the equivalent distance of the length of South Africa’s coastline, clocking up 1,739 miles by the time he flew out to Johannesburg for the first ARCO Festival. Meanwhile, last month, he organised an evening of chamber music at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery.  

21-year-old Alistair, who was hails from Allerton in Liverpool, said: “After running the distance of the South African coastline during my third year of study at Birmingham Conservatoire, and previously running a marathon when I was 17, I was struggling for fundraising ideas. One evening whilst in our local pub myself and fellow ARCO teacher Matt Johnstone joked about a Guinness World Record involving both the things I love; running and the viola. 

“Twelve weeks later my application was accepted by Guinness World Records to attempt the record for the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument at the Liverpool Half Marathon! Training has been going well and I am aiming to beat the record that currently stands at one hour, 26 minutes and 57 seconds.”  

The current record was set by Rakshith Shetty in Karnataka, India on 5 December 2015. The Indian runner ran the SBI Bengaluru Midnight Marathon while dressed as a guitar.

You can support Alistair’s world record attempt via his JustGiving page. You can also watch a video of Alistair training in his costume, while his progress in the Liverpool Half Marathon can be watched on Facebook Live from 9am on Sunday 2 April. 

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