Nurse Denied Marathon Record Because She Didn’t Wear a Dress

May 6, 2019 Updated: May 8, 2019

An NHS nurse who completed the 2019 London Marathon last week in uniform in the fastest time has been denied a world record because she wore scrubs instead of a nurse’s dress.

Jessica Anderson, a nurse at the Royal London Hospital, began the 26.2 mile race on April 28 with the hopes of securing a Guinness World Record (GWR) for the fastest nurse to complete the marathon in uniform.

Although she crossed the finish line with a time of 3.08:22, beating the previous record of 3.08:54, she was told by GWR that her attempt was not valid as she was wearing blue scrubs with trousers to complete the race.

A nurse’s uniform must consist of a traditional nurse’s cap, a white or blue dress, and a pinafore apron, according to GWR’s official rules. Anderson was told by officials that her clothes were too similar to the GWR dress requirements for a doctor’s uniform.

Anderson was left stunned when she was denied the title, despite beating the previous record set by Sarah Dudgeon in 2015 by 32 seconds.

Speaking to magazine Runner’s World, the nurse said she finds the GWR dress requirement “outdated” and that the majority of nurses she works with wear scrubs. The nurse accused GWR of “reinforcing old gender stereotypes.”

“I did email them to ask them to reconsider but they said no,” Anderson said.

“I get that it’s supposed to be a fun thing but their definition is just so outdated. Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers.”

“I’ve certainly never seen a male nurse wearing a dress to work,” she added.

Following the London marathon, Anderson posted a photo of herself running the race in scrubs, with the caption, “@Guinnessworldrecords this is what the fastest female marathon runner in a nurse’s uniform ACTUALLY looks like (3.08.22 ).”

She wrote in an Instagram message on May 5, “They said it had to be a white or blue dress, pinafore apron and white cap or it wouldn’t count as a record.”

“I didn’t want to wear that, so I chose to wear my real uniform instead because the title of the record is ‘fastest marathon in a nurse’s uniform,’” she added. “But was still aiming for the record time,” the New York Times reported.

Anderson, who at the time of writing has raised over £4,000 ($5,200) for Barts Health NHS Trust, told Runner’s World she would like to see GWR revise the criteria following the ordeal.

Nurses quickly took to social media to express their outrage over GWR’s decision to reject Anderson’s record.

“Male nurse here. Y’all gonna make me wear a dress, too? I’ve been in health care for 30+ years, and it’s been at least 25 years since I’ve seen a nurse in a dress,” a Twitter user named John said.

“It’s really this simple: She set the record. Acknowledge it,” he added.

Another nurse who has been working in the industry for over two decades added she had never worn “a “white pinafore apron or a traditional white nurse’s cap.”

Following the online backlash, GWR has since said it would review its costume policy for the record title.

“We’re aware of the news surrounding Jessica Anderson’s attempt for the fastest marathon dressed a nurse at this year’s London Marathon,” it said in a statement on May 4.

“We will be reviewing this record title as a priority over the coming days.”