Spending a day tottering on high heels in the office sounds like a spa treatment compared to what one young woman put her feet through this week.
Irene Sewell, 27, from Blacksburg, Virginia completed the Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Sunday — an impressive feat in its own right, as most people spend months training to run those 26.2 miles in a comfy pair of sneakers.
Irene, however, turned up in a pair of three-inch stiletto heels, and stayed in heels until she crossed the finish line less than seven and a half hours later.
Impressive feet (and more impressive feat): Irene Sewell from Blacksburg, Virginia ran a marathon in high heels
Flats forever after! The 27-year-old completed the Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Sunday
Who’ll try to best this one? Completing the race in her three-inch heels earned her a Guinness World Record
Ouch! She said her friends called her ‘crazy’ for attempting it, but she was inspired after another woman in London tried and failed to set the record in 2014
Irene told the local ABC affiliate News Channel 9 that her friends though she was ‘crazy’ to attempt the long race in heels, but the determined young woman didn’t let anyone talk her out of it.
A former professional ballroom dancer, she retired three years ago and took up running as a competitive and athletic outlet. She’d already completed three half IRONMANs, two half marathons, and about ten 5k races before she had the idea to try a marathon in heels.
Previously, there had been no record for running a marathon in heels. In 2014, a woman named Natalie Eckert from Stoke-on-Trent tried to run the London Marathon in heels, but gave up and took them off before she finished.
Irene started training months in advance. Initially, she’d wanted to do all of her training in heels — but after going to see a podiatrist to complain about pain, she was told her that she should at least alternate between the heels and more appropriate footwear.
Cinderella sure couldn’t do it! She paired her heels with socks and brought six pairs so she could change them through
Glutton for punishment? She trained for months leading up to the race but alternated between wearing sneakers and heels at the advice of a podiatrist
Unique: Because a representative from Guinness could not be there, her friends had to film the whole thing
Just in time! She needed to run the race in 7 hours and 30 minutes, and made that time with two minutes to spare
‘I did most of my runs in tennis shoes, and then I would do a three-to-seven mile run in my heels every once in awhile,’ she told Runner’s World. ‘But I’d also wear heels a lot throughout the day just to create callouses and get my feet ready.’
Building up callouses is the key for anyone who wears heels, but Irene learned a few other tricks too. She said her ‘biggest secret’ was using moleskin to prevent blisters from forming on the balls of her feet. She also set goals for herself.
‘Your mind is so much stronger than your body, so if you think you can do it and you’re mentally prepared, you should be able to do it,’ she said.
She also brought six different pairs of the same black shoes — cage like sandals that were sure to stay on her feet, which she paired with pink socks. They were in a range of sizes, from seven and a half to nine, to account for her feet swelling during the run.
On the day of the big race, no one from Guinness could come to witness it — so Irene’s friends had to follow her for the entire thing, filming.
Yikes! It was painful, but she protected her feet with moleskin and bandages and set goals for herself
Irene is a former professional ballroom dancer who had completed other races before this one
Uh-oh! The organizers had actually miscalculated the distance and set the race up to be too long
Ta-da! They had the director stand near the actual 26.2 mile mark for documentation
Guinness did give her some rules, though: Her heels had to be at least 2.75 inches tall, the width couldn’t be more than 1.5 centimeters, and she had to finish in seven and a half hours.
Her time was 7:27:53.
‘Well world, I DID IT,’ she wrote on Facebook afterward. ‘I’m still in shock, but it really happened. I ran a marathon today in high heels and set a Guinness World Record with two minutes to spare!’
She even managed to finish in time despite an unexpected hiccup: The organizers of the race miscalculated the length of the race. It was set up to be over half a mile too long (.63 miles, to be exact) — a mistake that could have cost Irene from finishing within her allotted seven and a half hours.
Luckily, the error was figured out in time and Irene’s friends — along with the race director — calculated the exact finish spot, 26.2 miles in.
‘They did all they could to make sure I still had the most correct measurement and time,’ she said. ‘I thank them from the bottom of my heart because they definitely didn’t have to come from the finish line to the 26.2 spot to get my time.’