Lo­cal woman go­ing for marathon high heel record

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION - BY MARK PACE STAFF WRITER

Irene Sewell will strap on her high heels Sun­day morn­ing and run a marathon.

She’ll take off along­side run­ners in their Asics, Nikes and Adi­das at this Sun­day’s 7 Bridges Marathon with six pairs of heels, at­tempt­ing to break a Guin­ness world record.

“I read an ar­ti­cle about a lady in Lon­don who had at­tempted this a few years ago,” Sewell said. “She didn’t ul­ti­mately get the record, but I thought, ‘Hey, I should try that.’”

Sewell will have to fin­ish in less than 7 hours and 30 min­utes to break the record. She’ll have at least two peo­ple along­side her to carry the ex­tra high heels and will change them out ev­ery 5 miles to limit break­age, pos­si­bly caus­ing in­jury.

World record of­fi­cials are strin­gent, hav­ing dis­qual­i­fied a pre­vi­ous woman’s at­tempt af­ter she moved a few feet fur­ther along the course while chang­ing shoes, race codi­rec­tor Jay Ne­vans said.

“I think it’s go­ing to be great,” Ne­vans said. “She’s a friend of mine, and we’ve sup­ported her ef­fort. We’re look­ing for­ward to her break­ing the Gui­ness record.”

Sewell has ex­pe­ri­ence mov­ing in heels. She was a pro­fes­sional ball­room dancer, often com­pet­ing and danc­ing in the raised footwear.

Sewell turned to run­ning af­ter her danc­ing ca­reer ended, want­ing to fuel her com­pet­i­tive na­ture. She’s run the 7 Bridges half marathon, sev­eral marathons and com­peted in three Iron­man 70.3 races.

To train, she’s kept her nor­mal run­ning reg­i­men. She will slip on heels for some runs to prac­tice but has pri­mar­ily trained like most marathon go­ers, in run­ning shoes.

The only com­pet­i­tive run she’s done in heels was the Mag­num Mile fun run in Au­gust dur­ing the River Gorge Om­nium.

The 7 Bridges Marathon caters to more in­ex­pe­ri­enced and non-elite run­ners, Ne­vans said.

“We do not cater to the elite run­ners. They are wel­come, but our main fo­cus are the folks who have maybe started with a couch-to-5k and then moved to a 10k and a half marathon be­fore mov­ing to a full,” he said.

There are prizes but no cash pay­outs. Race di­rec­tors boast of the marathon’s laid-back na­ture, en­cour­ag­ing first timers and oth­ers just look­ing to achieve per­sonal goals.

The race has more pace groups than most marathons, al­low­ing for slower run­ners to find like-speeded com­pan­ions, Ne­vans said.

Sun­day’s race will be the sev­enth year of 7 Bridges Marathon. A cou­ple of thou­sand run­ners al­ready are reg­is­tered, and more will reg­is­ter be­fore the cut­off Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The day fea­tures the 7 Bridges Marathon, Des­mond Doss Me­mo­rial 4 Bridges Half Marathon, 7 Bridges Re­lay, a 5-kilo­me­ter race and a fam­ily fun run. Des­mond Doss Jr., son of the famed Medal of Honor win­ner por­trayed in the film “Hack­saw Ridge,” will make an ap­pear­ance at the race. There also will be a free show­ing Satur­day of “The Race That Eats Its Young,” a doc­u­men­tary about the Barkley Marathons. It will be fol­lowed by a ques­tio­nand-an­swer seg­ment with Barkley Marathon di­rec­tor Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell.

Con­tact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6659. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @the­mark­pace and on Face­book at Chat­tanoogaOut­doorsTFP.


Rac­ers ap­proach a flu­ids sta­tion in Coolidge Park dur­ing the 7 Bridges Marathon in Oc­to­ber 2016.


Irene Sewell is at­tempt­ing to break the record for run­ning a marathon in high heels. She will make her ef­fort at the Seven Bridges Marathon.

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