Warrensburg, MO (Oct. 5, 2013)
Knitter Runs Warrensburg Half-Marathon
The race started on a cool October morning with the combined Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K runners full of giddy energy. The racers are giggling and pointing, 'he can't be serious,' they said. But he is serious. That guy that passed the other runners while knitting & running is David Babcock and he is training for a knitting marathon.
"The laughing makes sense," says Babcock, "It's a pretty silly thing to do". Babcock has been doing this for some time, though not usually with a crowd of people running with him. He is preparing for his attempt to break the Guinness World Record for, "longest scarf knit whilst running a marathon", which will take place at the Kansas City Marathon on October 19th.
During the 13 plus miles that he ran Babcock says that he had time to talk with some people along the way. "Races can be pretty lonely sometimes. I suppose the knitting gives me something to talk with people about. I love to hear about people's goals and motivations with their running," says Babcock. He says that he also really likes the verbal support from volunteers working at the aid stations, "it can help more than the drinks".
So why is Babcock knitting while running? His first answer is simple, "Because I can". "I'd like to encourage other people to do crazy - or creative - things that they might be hesitant to do," he says. When he first started combining his knitting with his running he found Susie Hewer's story online. Ms. Hewer, the current record holder, ran the London Marathon while knitting to help raise funds and bring awareness to Alzheimer's disease. Mr. Babcock in his attempt will also be running for Alzheimer's in honor of Hewer's record. Details about the attempt can be found on his website: donotstaple.com.
Babcock finished his half-marathon in a little over two hours with a multi-pink-colored scarf (for Breast Cancer awareness) over 7 feet long. "I was able to do the bind-off just before the finish," says Babcock, "but I forgot my scissors".
Warrensburg, MO (Oct. 1, 2013)
Knitting While Running Record Attempt
David Babcock sweats profusely when he knits. But that is to be expected when he knits while running at the same time. Mr. Babcock combines what, for many, can be two long and tedious activities into an unusual multitasking challenge: knitting scarves while long-distance running.
According to Babcock, it is a natural fit, "I was learning to knit just a few years ago, around the same time that I started running for exercise. I would work on knitting during odd moments when I could squeeze in the time. Finding time to do a distance run was also a scheduling challenge. I thought why not try them together." He admits that this is not something he would recommend for anyone. It took quite a bit of experimentation with different combinations of yarn types and needle to hit on something that was workable. "Just seeing if I could actually do it," was a big draw for Babcock. He documented his early efforts on his blog http://donotstaple.blogspot.com.
Wondering if anyone else had thought of doing the same or had success with it, he found articles online about Susie Hewer who holds the Guinness World Record for, "Longest scarf knit whilst running a marathon". So there is a good precedent out there. More searching lead to online communities for knitters, like Ravelry.com, which are full of social groups built on common interests besides just knitting, crochet and other yarn arts. One Ravelry group is titled "Running with sharp objects" which mostly serves knitters who also happen to have an interest in running. Another group goes by the title, "Knitters who like to knit while walking and singing sea shanteys". "It's fun to do something crazy," says Babcock, "but even more fun to find that you aren't alone".
Babcock ran his first Marathon last year in Kansas City and finished in just under four hours. He considered knitting while running but decided that successfully completing would be challenge enough. This year, enticed by visiting family members who will be running, he decided to go for his second marathon. A more social run means a slower pace and provides the justification to try a knitting marathon. It took several months but his application for a record attempt was accepted by Guinness World Records.
Babcock will attempt to break Mrs. Hewer's marathon-scarf-knitting record at the Kansas City Marathon on October 19th. "I've been training under the provisions set by Guinness and I know I can do it," says Babcock. Knitting a scarf while running may be the easy part. For an official record, Guinness requires extensive documentation and witnesses. One requirement is that the whole attempt be video taped. He thinks that it might be possible with a GoPro action cam strapped to his chest and lots of extra batteries. "There is a lot to figure out and coordinate," he says, "It's a whole different race to try and get sponsors, publicity, and charities all figured out." Babcock is using his website: donotstaple.com to coordinate his efforts.
Mrs. Hewer's original knitting record was done as a way to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer's Research in the UK. In honor of the original record Babcock is hoping to do the same with Alzheimer's Association in the U.S. "If you are going to do anything that brings attention or publicity it makes sense to deflect that focus to something better than yourself," says Babcock.
Leading up to the "knitting marathon", Babcock will be running the "Run the Burg" half marathon in Warrensburg on Saturday October 5th. His plan is to knit a scarf that is half as wide as the required marathon scarf width, which should result in scarf around 9 feet long by 9 inches wide by the end of the 13.2 mile race. The marathon scarf record is a little over 6 feet in just under 6 hours. "I would love it if people came out to cheer, or even just to gawk," he says, "runners love clapping and encouragement; it means a lot." If you don't make it out to the marathons as a spectator you might just happen upon him training on the roads around Warrensburg. Babcock says, "When I am out running on the country roads and cars slow down I never really know if they are slowing to move safely around me or just to try and figure out what I am doing with all that yarn."