Let’s get the obvious question about David Babcock’s unusual feat of skill and endurance out of the way first:
No, he doesn’t worry about putting his eye out.
During Saturday’s Kansas City Marathon, the graphic design professor from the University of Central Missouri broke the Guinness world record for longest scarf knitted while running a marathon.
That’s the second Guinness record shattered in Kansas City in a week. Last Sunday, the roar of the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium was measured at an ear-splitting, loudest-on-Earth 137.5 decibels.
The Guinness scarf knitting record was previously held by Susie Hewer, who in 2008 at the Flora London Marathon made a scarf measuring 5 feet, 2 inches long. Hewer broke her record in April, again in London, with a 6 foot, 9 inch scarf.
How long was Babcock’s red, orange and purple scarf? Drum roll, please.
Twelve feet, 13/4 inches, as measured by knitting experts Cindy Craig of Kansas City and Traci Bunkers of Lawrence and by Jim Josten, president of an accredited instrument and gauge calibration service who will verify to Guinness the authenticity of Babcock’s accomplishment.
For the technically minded, Babcock used a garter stitch, 30 stitches wide, and size 15 plastic needles. And he finished the marathon in 5 hours, 48 minutes and 27 seconds.
Babcock, 41, began running and knitting as separate activities about three years ago. Because both can grow tedious, he decided to combine them.
It took experimentation. The yarn, which he keeps in a pack on his waist, had to be acrylic; natural fibers pick up sweat. Babcock devised a technique for tying the lengthening scarves around his waist and cinching them to a carabiner.
Except for one fall early in his knitting-while-running career, when he didn’t notice a pothole, Babcock hasn’t had any mishaps running with needles.
“I have a very smooth gait,” he said.
Like Hewer, who runs to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research, Babcock hopes that people will donate to the Alzheimer’s Association. A link to the association can be found on his website, www.donotstaple.com.