B.C. team breaks unofficial world record for half marathon pushing a wheelchair
Two B.C. men—one in a wheelchair and one pushing the wheelchair—finished the Scotiabank Half Marathon Sunday well under the world record time for the second year in a row, but their race won't be recognized because they built their chair instead of buying it.
Rand Surbey, 42, has Cerebral Palsy. He can't speak, but he has a clear sense of adventure and smiles the whole way while his friend Jason Cole, 46, pushes his custom-built racing chair along the 21 kilometre half marathon course.
They say the chair is what's preventing the pair from holding the official Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon pushing a wheelchair. The current record is held by Andrew Steward of the U.K. who pushed his son Chris around the course in one hour and 54 minutes.
"We were disqualified because this duct-tape encrusted piece of rust is considered an advantage for Rand here over $10,000 carbon fibre racing carriage," Cole told CTV News.
Cole thinks it's unfair because neither he nor Surbey has "deep pockets" to afford a commercially sold racing chair. Plus, Cole says, he'd have to modify a store bought chair anyway to suit Surbey. The 42-year-old weighs about 150 pounds, so Cole had to reinforce the front wheel of his chair.
"They don't realize that every wheelchair has to be adapted to a person's needs," he said. "If they really want to make it fair they need to make criteria that anyone can follow regardless of your purse strings."
Still, Cole is thrilled that the chair they built can not only race other wheelchairs, but contend with able-bodied people racing too.
Surbey and Cole beat the current world record by 20 minutes in 2016, when they finished the Scotiabank Half Marathon in one hour and 34 minutes. This year they managed a similar time, but Cole waited at the finish line to cross just under the record.
"We figured we'd give the other nine billion people on the planet a chance to catch us," Cole joked.
He didn't want to dwell on the record though, instead choosing to focus on the funds he and Surbey are raising in support of #TeamCPABC for the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC.
They've already raised $15,000 but their goal is $25,000.
"They're a huge inspiration for our entire team," said Ian Bushfield, events coordinator with CPABC. "People love seeing how hard they push through a half marathon."
Surbey and Cole trained together for six days a week preparing for the half marathon. Once they found out it would be hot on race day, they trained in track suits and sweaters to get used to the warmth.
The pair met when Cole was volunteering guiding accessible hikes. He could tell right away that Surbey "had quite a thirst for adventure."
Since then, they've done races together including a Tough Mudder and two half marathons. For Cole, seeing Surbey's smile makes all the physical pain of running the half marathon worth it.
"He's the smiles and the thumbs up," Cole said of Surbey. "He's the personality of the group."
Guinness World Records did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro.