Bigger is better!

BagpussBigger really is better, or so it would seem after meeting a selection of the typically colourful and crazy Guinness World Record attemptees who have set their sights on achieving more than just a finisher's medal at this Sunday's Virgin London Marathon.

Perhaps it's the Olympic Games motto "faster, higher, stronger" that's provided some inspiration, or maybe it's just a little bit of madness.

Marc Jenner and Mark Millrine set the standard superbly. Dressed as Bagpuss and Wellington the Womble, the pair will attempt to run the fastest marathons dressed as a television character and a book character, respectively.

The question, simply, is ‘Why?' Surely there are easier ways into the record books?

"In all honesty, this costume was chosen for me as Bagpuss is the official character of our charity, Hospices of Hope," said Jenner.

"Oliver Postgate, who created Bagpuss, was a great supporter of the hospice and the children's wing in Brasov, Romania, is named after the character. Oliver passed away in 2008 but gave us the right to use the Bagpuss name in our fundraising efforts."

The record to beat is an impressive 3 hours 21 minutes, a credible time by anyone's standards let alone in a giant pink stripy cat suit.

"It's a really tough target and it's very hot in there," said Jenner. "I'm actually in a lose-lose situation: if it's hot, I'm hot, and if it's wet I'll be heavy. I just want to get round."

Wellington was slightly more optimistic but then he had good reason to be as the man inside the Womble suit was actually standing in for the ‘real' Mark Millrine, a man delayed on his journey to the capital.

"I really hope he shows up later or I might have to run in this costume on Sunday," joked his German stand-in who will also represent the Jesuit Missions this weekend.

Perhaps it pays to have experience in alternative marathon running, in which case 39-year-old David Lawrenson from Lancashire, who will attempt his second Guinness World Record, has an advantage. Lawrenson will aim to become the tallest costume to complete a marathon, just 12 months after he and his friends broke the mark for the most runners linked together in a race.

Choosing the costume was a no-brainer for the self-employed builder who will target the existing record of 23ft 1inch: "If you're going to dress as a tall structure and you're from the north of England, you've got to do the Blackpool Tower," he laughed.

His Tower suit is 24ft tall and he hopes to raise over £5,000 for Scope, a charity he has supported since 2005. "I'd like to extend it upwards for another 2ft and I want to ask permission to add that on so I've got a foot for every mile of the marathon.

"Also, I don't want the Eiffel Tower to turn up on the same day. It would be like two women turning up at a wedding in the same dress."

While the Blackpool Tower will have to negotiate a couple of low bridges en route, George and Charley Phillips are more concerned with a water hazard.

The siblings - who have been stilt walking since a young age and were part of the Albert & Friends Instant Circus in London. They will attempt to beat 8:25 to become the fastest marathon on stilts, but are worried about negotiating all the dropped water bottles around drinks stations.

"In 2008 our mother lost her battle with lung cancer, and so in her memory we thought we would challenge ourselves to do something a bit different," said the pair who will raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Last but not least in the ‘bigger and better' Guinness World Record category is Bonzo the pantomime horse. Otherwise known as Tom and Billy Casserley from Surrey, Bonzo is chasing the record for fastest marathon in a two-person costume.

The brothers, who lost their grandfather in 2008, will raise money for Help the Hospices and need to run under five hours.

"We chose the name after legendary West Ham player Billy Bonds," explained the South London Harriers who have both run brilliant sub-2:50 marathons in recent years.

"We've run quite a few marathons competitively and after a few beers we came up with the challenge. Now it's all about teamwork; it's a four-legged challenge.

"We're feeling a bit more pressure than in our normal marathon races because we're stepping into the unknown."

According to the Guinness rules they can't swap places during the race, but after trotting around a half marathon in 2:12 they should be reasonably optimistic of achieving their target time of 4:30.

Let's hope they have the last laugh.

First reported by the Virgin London Marathon website.