As Rex Woodbury ran along the streets of Manhattan on Sunday dressed nattily in a dark blue suit, he heard people yelling to him: "Are you going to work?" "How's the commute?" "Looking sharp!"
Woodbury, 22, wears a suit a lot of the time as a first-year Investment Banking Analyst for Goldman Sachs, and on this day he raced past his offices at 200 West Street, but had no intention of stopping by — he had a world record to set.
His office was along the route for the New York Half-Marathon and Woodbury was determined to put his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for running the fastest half-marathon in a suit. As for footwear, he sported a pair of dark Nike running shoes. After 1 hour, 18 minutes and 40 seconds of running the 13.1 miles he reached his goal.
"I knew the time to beat was 1:24:41, and that I had to take videos and photos on my phone from every mile to provide enough evidence to Guinness," Woodbury told me via email. "It was a really fun race — I was a little uncomfortable, but the crowds made up for it."
Woodbury, who is openly gay and was profiled in Outsports last year, ran middle distance for Dartmouth's track team. But running in a full business suit as opposed to a more comfortable tank top and shorts was a novelty.
"My favorite suit brand is My.Suit — they make tailor-made suits with a couple of locations in Manhattan," he said. "I reached out to them about the race, and they loved the idea. They were kind enough to sponsor me and provide a custom suit for the race. The suit was normal material. Luckily, it was a pretty cold morning in New York. I never practiced running in the suit, and I was a bit surprised by how stuffy and uncomfortable it was. But I don't think it slowed me down that much."
He first hatched the idea for attempting the feat after reading an article in December about the record. "I thought to myself, ‘Hey, that's pretty cool and also pretty funny.' I saw that he ran the race in 1:24, and I thought that I could take a shot at that. I spend so much of my time in a business suit (sometimes I think too much of my time), and I thought that it would be fun to run a half-marathon in one," Woodbury said. "In a way, I suppose, it was a way to combine two of my passions — business and running — and show that it's possible to pursue a professional career and still enjoy running and competing. I saw it as a fun personal challenge."
Despite his busy work schedule, Woodbury stays in shape by running three to six miles four times a week and lifting weights six days a week. In the photos he sent from the race, he makes it look like a Sunday stroll in Central Park.
The next step is to submit the photos and videos to Guinness for verification, which Woodbury assumes won't be an issue. This kind of record is an easy one to confirm since there is an official time kept and Woodbury's family and friends also took copious photos and videos.
It is unclear how long Woodbury will hold the record. The old record lasted three years after being set in 2012, but has now been broken three times since September. Regardless of whether anyone in the future beats his 1:18:40, Woodbury will always be able to say he is a world-record holder.
Rex Woodbury recently graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College, where he studied Economics and Applied Mathematics and competed on the track and field team as a middle-distance runner. Woodbury founded the Connect Mentoring Program (http://connectlgbtcommunity.com; contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org), which helps serve and support LGBT youth and young adults.
Half-marathon photos by Carson Woodbury:
Woodbury with his dad, family and friends after the race.