Viking runners pillage world record and raise thousands for charity

Weve done it! The four Viking longboat runners celebrate after completing the marathon in a world-record time.
Weve done it! The four Viking longboat runners celebrate after completing the marathon in a world-record time.

An intrepid quartet of marathon-runners from Gainsborough smashed a world record ‘dressed’ as a Viking longboat, raising almost £11,000 for charity.

The runners became the fastest team to complete a 26-mile race in a four-person costume when they tackled the Edinburgh Marathon.

Now Martin Ward, Nigel Burton, Steve Tait and Chris Gale are back home with their feet up, and waiting for Guinness to formally ratify their achievement.

“It was truly an amazing experience,” said Martin. “We smashed the record by some 23 minutes, coming in at five hours, three minutes and four seconds, despite running in 28-degree heat.

“We were overwhelmed by the support and feedback we received. It feels like it will be several weeks before we come down to earth!”

Complete with “real beards, shields and lots of Viking snarling”, the four were quite a sight, and sound, encased in the longboat. It took hours of practice through the streets of Gainsborough to perfect a running style that was in tandem.

Martin came up with the longboat idea to reflect the famous moment in Gainsborough’s history when it was seized by Viking king Sweyn Forkbeard in the 11th century. “But only Steve had run a marathon before, and we had a collective age of 197!”! he said.

The quartet were supported all the way by a fifth member of the team, Craig Williamson, who videoed the run to provide Guinness with the official evidence.

The money raised, through sponsorship and donations, will be split equally between LIVES, the charity that recruits volunteers to respond to 999 emergencies across Lincolnshire, and the Epilepsy Society.

Martin added: “Huge thanks to Craig and also to LIVES, whose fundraising team travelled up to Edinburgh to support us.”