The Weird Way This Runner’s World Editor Got Out of Her Running Rut

And set a Guinness World Record, too!

Meghan Kita's hot dog marathon

Photo courtesy of Meghan Kita

Meghan Kita was burnt out.

Kita is a senior editor at Runner’s World, but she wasn’t running all that much. She was busy with wedding prep (she got married in the spring). And after 16 marathons since her first one, in 2009 — “too many,” she says — she needed a break. “I would run when I felt like it, as far as I felt like, just to stay in shape,” Kita says. “Like a normal person.”

Looking for a way to invigorate her interest in running, Kita came up with an idea: Runner’s World had written previously about costumed marathoners, including those who set Guinness World Records for the fastest marathon in a particular costume.

She was inspired. In 2013, she attended a “Pennsylvania” themed costume party. She dressed as the Hot Dog King, the official mascot of Allentown hot dog stand Yocco’s. (Allentown, Kita says, has a big “hot dog culture.”) She also wore the hot dog costume — which cost her $20 at Kmart — to cheer on runners at the New York City marathon that year (with a sign that read, “Hot dog, you look strong!”).

“I could run a marathon in this costume and accomplish something, even if I’m not taking it very seriously,” Kita says. “This fall I wasn’t really feeling interested in training hard. But I still wanted to have a goal, and I felt like now’s the time to go for this costume record. I could do minimal training, I could kind of half-ass it and still probably do an okay job.”

Oh, yeah, Kita is pretty quick: Her best marathon time is a 3:34:53, almost an hour under the 4:30:00 time Guinness requires runners to beat if they want to set marathon records. She researched it, and saw there was no record for fastest marathon in a hot dog costume. She proposed the record to Guinness and set out on some leisurely (for her) training.

Unfortunately, Guinness didn’t think “Fastest Marathon in a Hot Dog Costume” was good enough for a record. But it did create an entirely new category: Fastest Marathon in a Fast Food Costume. Kita was in. She picked the Marine Corps Marathon, held annually through D.C. and Arlington, Virginia.

Running in a costume actually isn’t so bad, Kita says. It’s hot — heat that escapes via your head is now trapped — but she didn’t have any problems with chafing, and her arms and legs could move freely. The “hood” of the hot dog costume would slip back, but she fixed that problem by running in a visor she pinned to the front of the costume. And she got a lot of support on the course.

“The more delirious I became, the better I ran, because I wasn’t processing the ‘HOT DOG!’ and ‘YOU’RE A WIENER!’ and ‘IT’S TIME TO KETCHUP!’ cheers from the sidelines,” she wrote for RW. “There are about five puns that come to mind about running in a hot dog costume, and I’ve heard each of them at least 20 times.”

She had to stop at each mile marker to have a photo taken — she got a volunteer to run with her — in order to document for Guinness that she actually ran all 26.2 miles. She finished well under the needed mark, running a 3:57:49. “I probably could have run 30 seconds to a minute faster if I hadn’t had to stop, though!” she says.

She submitted her application to Guinness. The race was October 25th. A month later, her record was certified.

Kita plans to frame her certificate and hang it in her cube. (A coworker once had a a different running Guinness World Record, so she’ll be the second record-holder on staff.) Not only did she set a record, but the ploy worked. A lightly-done marathon reinvigorated her love for running.

“Now I’m feeling jazzed again,” she says, “about trying to run fast.”

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