How often do you see a viola running down the street, let alone in a half marathon? A student at the Birmingham Conservatoire in the UK will attempt a Guinness World Record on April 2: running the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument.

Alistair Rutherford will be suiting up in a custom-made viola costume to run the Liverpool Half Marathon in a stab at the world record, which is currently held by Indian runner Rakshith Shetty, who ran the SBI Bengaluru Midnight Marathon in 2015 dressed as a guitar.

Rutherford is hoping to raise funds for the UK-South African project, Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music & Birmingham Conservatoire – or ARCO – which has seen young string students in South Africa given weekly Skype lessons by academics, students and alumni of Birmingham Conservatoire. The project aims to bring music and music education to children in the most deprived circumstances.

Rutherford’s viola stunt is only the latest fundraising event Rutherford has organised for ARCO – he ran the equivalent distance of the length of South Africa’s coastline (2798 kilometres) last year and organised an evening of chamber music at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery earlier this year.

“After running the distance of the South African coastline during my third year of study at Birmingham Conservatoire, and previously running a marathon when I was 17, I was struggling for fundraising ideas,” Rutherford said in an interview on the Birmingham Conservatoire website. “One evening whilst in our local pub myself and fellow ARCO teacher Matt Johnstone joked about a Guinness World Record involving both the things I love; running and the viola.”

Violist Alistair RutherfordViolist Alistair Rutherford dressed as a viola

“Twelve weeks later my application was accepted by Guinness World Records to attempt the record for the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument at the Liverpool Half Marathon!” he said. “Training has been going well and I am aiming to beat the record that currently stands at one hour, 26 minutes and 57 seconds.”

Rutherford’s attempt will be broadcast through Facebook Live on his Facebook page.

The viola costume Rutherford will be running in was created by costume designer Brian D Hanlon and is made from Pastazote foam.

“Birmingham Conservatoire is full of admiration for Alistair’s adventurous and rather ‘off centre’ project,” Birmingham Conservatoire’s Head of Strings Louise Lansdown said. “We are currently enjoying daily updates, including photos and videos of Alistair’s training sessions with his brand new enlarged viola! Alistair and his viola can be seen running around Edgbaston Reservoir most mornings around 7am – a sight not to be missed.”


Violist Alistair Rutherford is raising money for ARCO through his JustGiving page

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