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Guinness world record set at London Marathon by runners supporting the AKDN
Selina Papa
20 June 2012
  • Runners Nash Pradhan and Dan McCormack completed the 2012 London Marathon in support of the Aga Khan Development Network. The pair set a Guinness world record for “Fastest marathon dressed as a video games character”. Photo: Courtesy of AKF UK
    Runners Nash Pradhan and Dan McCormack completed the 2012 London Marathon in support of the Aga Khan Development Network. The pair set a Guinness world record for “Fastest marathon dressed as a video games character”. Courtesy of AKF UK

    On a sunny Sunday in April, Nash Pradhan and Dan McCormack overcame punishing distances and runners' aches to set a Guiness world record at the prestigious London Marathon.

    Disguised as the Super Mario Brothers, they beat over 30 000 fellow athletes to finish in the top 13 per cent of runners. True to the superhero costumes they had donned, their crazy dash between the sights of London had an important goal: to improve healthcare for disadvantaged communities in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

    Recently, caught up with Pradhan to find out what kept them going.

    Tell us more about the AKDN programme that you are supporting?

    Our marathon sponsorship will contribute towards an X-ray machine for the Khorog Diagnostic Unit in Tajikistan, which is part of a hub of healthcare services that AKDN is developing to improve health and reduce maternal deaths in remote regions of Afghan Badakhshan and the Tajik Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast.

    Frequent bad weather and natural hazards such as snow or rock falls leave many communities in this region isolated, unable to reach a healthcare centre to receive medical advice and treatment that we take for granted. Pregnant women are particularly affected. Afghan Badakhshan has seen some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. We wanted to help AKDN improve this situation.

    What did running the London Marathon mean to you?

    I've always wanted to run a marathon, both to see whether my body was capable, and to see how fast I could do it.

    I had no idea how amazing the experience would be. I've run a few races over the years and I can honestly say that this was the most exhilarating one. The crowd support was amazing and the ever-changing backdrop of the city of London made the race truly memorable.

    What kept you going when it got difficult?

    Fear of not finishing my first marathon, the overwhelming support of the crowd and the [Guinness] world record attempt were massive incentives for me to push on and finish, even when I hit “the wall”.

    Many endurance racers hit the wall. Mine occurred between 16 and 18 miles. My legs were doing the job, but my mind and wobbly vision were telling me that I couldn't continue. Fortunately I've experienced this feeling before and knew that to get through it I'd need to drink more water, use energy gels, ease the pace and listen to reassuring words from my running buddy Dan, my running partner of many years.

    Sometimes a few wise words from a trusted friend are all that are needed to restore self-belief.

    Who came up with the idea to run as the Super Mario Bros?

    Sadly for me, I developed shin splints in my left leg eight weeks before race day. Pain stopped me from doing serious training so I rethought my goals. Completing the marathon was still achievable but doing it in my target time of 2 hours and 48 minutes was looking suicidal.

    Dan came up with the idea of beating a record. We contacted the Guinness World Records team to check existing records, and realised that the record for “Fastest marathon dressed as a video games character” could be ours!

    We both have three kids who approved of us running as Mario and Luigi. It was then just a case of getting the silly outfits and growing a pair of ridiculous moustaches.

    The costumes really improved our crowd support. People singled us out for cheers, which helped us along. We were even interviewed by the BBC during the race!

    Your top tips for aspiring Marathon runners?

  • Believe in yourself. We are amazing creatures, capable of so much. If you believe that you can run a marathon then you have overcome your first major barrier.
  • Get the right shoes. Buying running shoes because they are your favourite colour or because they match your running top is not a good idea. Everyone's feet and running styles differ. Invest in the right shoes to avoid injuries in the long term.
  • Start training slowly. If you have never run before, start with short runs, increasing their frequency as the weeks pass. Once you start feeling good when running, increase your distance.
  • Run with a buddy. They will help spur you on while training and racing. It's harder to pull out of a race if you have a friend doing it, and it's great to share the sense of achievement when you finish.
  • Enjoy yourself!
  • Any world record plans for next year?

    London Marathon 2013 – here we come!

    Visit Nash Pradhan's webpage to find out how his fundraising is going. Do you have a race coming up? If you'd like to support an AKDN project, contact