*insert shocked face here*
Meet 27-year-old Irene Sewell, a recruiter at a physical therapy office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who began competitive running about three years ago.
Speaking to News Channel 9, Sewell said she started running to "regain a sense of competition and community." When she read an article on Natalie Eckert's failed 2015 attempt to beat the record for world's fastest marathon runner in high heels, things took a turn.
My #wcw is Natalie Eckert, who first attempted the fastest High Heel Marathon in London a few years ago! I read your story in a magazine and couldn't help but want to try myself ❤️💪🏼👠….. #inspiration #wcw #highheels #highheelmarathon #natalieEckert #motivation #highheelsforguinness #run #marathontraining #fifam #26point2 #londonmarathon
"She ultimately didn't get the record so I was just reading about her and I thought, man, with my dancing background and now running background it's kind of the best of both worlds," Sewell told the station.
Who am I and how can I break the Fastest High Heel Marathon time for the Guinness Book of Records? I'm glad you asked. I have danced my entire life and for 5 years I was dancing and teaching Ballroom and Partnership dancing professionally, in heels. I've spent 8-10 hours a day and 50+ hours a week in heels. After I retired from the dancing world, I needed a competitive outlet which is when I fell in love with running. In the short two years since I became a runner I've completed 4 10K, 6 Half Marathons, 2 Full Marathons, 4 Sprint Triathlons, 1 Olympic Triathlon, and 2 Half Ironman 70.3 Triathlons. If anyone can run a marathon in heels in under 7 hours and 30 minutes, I can. This challenge was made for me, and I'm excited to have you follow my journey! #marathontraining #timetotrain #training #instarun #instarunner #marathon #marathonmaniacs #tri #ironman #halfironman #guinessbookofworldrecords #worldrecord #run #running #soexcited @runnersworldmag
Inspired, the runner contacted the Guinness World Records.
It's really happening! My application to break the fastest marathon in high heels for the Guinness World Record book has been accepted! Follow my Journey here! #highheelsforguiness #marathontraining #highheelmarathon #marathon #guinnessworldrecord #GWR #thejourneystartshere #runnersofinatagram #runner
According to Guinness, Sewell needed to rock heels that were 2.75 inches high and 1.5 centimeters wide, and the race had to be completed within 7.5 hours. So a year before Sewell took her place in the starting line of the Volunteer State's 7 Bridges Marathon, she began to train.
"It's all a learning process — good thing I have a whole year to prepare," she wrote in an Instagram post.
Just a little treadmill run while traveling for work. Tonight was my favorite, sprints 💪🏼which were done at a 7:48 pace (7.7 on the treadmill, 0% incline) No excuses!…… #highheelsforguinness #treadmilltraining #hotelgym #gymlife #noexcuses #travel #run #instarun #running #marathontraining #runningimhighheels #strengthtraining #sprints #guinnessworldrecordattempt #motivation #sevenbridgesmarathon @sevenbridgesmarathon
And just like magic, race day arrived and Sewell, towing six different pairs of heels, CEP calf sleeves, and a knee brace, was as ready as she was ever going to be.
So did she win? Did the year-long process of training pay off? Yes. Yes, it did. Sewell ran the marathon in seven hours, 27 minutes and 53 seconds, ESPN reported.
Here's an image of Sewell crossing the finish line:
Well world, I DID IT. I'm still in shock, but it really happened. I ran a marathon today in high heels and set a Guinness World Record and got it with two minutes to spare! HUGE thank you to my pacers/bag and shoe carriers Zach Cowart and Susanna Kirby for sticking out the whole thing with me, you two are saints. Thanks to Tommy Norton for rushing to bring more GoPros, Brittany Schield for bringing a memory card, then running with me, I could NOT have run as "fast" as I did without you. Thanks Chattanooga Police Department for staying on my butt with your lights and making me run the Dam literally as fast as I could because time was running out. Thanks to the weather for cooperating and giving us shade even though I still got sunburnt 😂 Thank you to all my friends for showing up and cheered me in!! Thank you to everyone else who texted, called waved to me on the course (sorry for the traffic jam we caused) and cheered from afar. Jay Nevans you put on an AWESOME race, as always and I love the medal. What a day for the books.. get it? 😂👠🏃🏼♀️👏🏻#marathon #26point2 #guinnessworldrecordholder #guinnessworldrecordfamily
"In terms of advice, even if you're not trying to run in heels, get out and set goals," Sewell told Runner's World Tuesday. "Your mind is so much stronger than your body, so if you think you can do it and you're mentally prepared, you should be able to do it."
Though the stiletto-wearing runner did succeed, there was one small hiccup during the Sunday race — the distance was miscalculated. With the official race course.63 miles too long, Sewell counted on her friends to document the exact spot where the 26.2 miles finally came to an end.