Warrensburg – University of Central Missouri graphic design professor David Babcock combines two hobbies to seek a place in the Guinness Book of World Record - knitting while running.
He will seek to set the record at the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday.
“I like distance running,” Babcock said. “I am not a young sprinter, so distance running is a good thing, and finding time in the day to do a distance run, and at the same time finding time to practice knitting takes a long time, and I thought, well why not? Kill two birds with one stone, and try both together. I like to do crazy things like that.”
Babcock said combining the two hobbies makes them more exciting.
“Running can be really boring and knitting can be really boring,” Babcock said. “They are both really similar. Step after step after step is the same as stitch after stitch after stich. After seeing how similar they were, they seemed to go together really well.”
Babcock said he heard some people call the combination “cardio-knitting.”
To break the record, Babcock must start knitting use “maximum size 15” U.S. needles, have 30 stitches per row, garter stitch; and beat the record of Susie Hewer, who ran in the Virgin London Marathon in 5:54:23 while knitting a scarf that measured 6-feet-10-inches long.
Guinness approved Babcock’s record application and told him the event must be video-taped, an official must measure the final length of the scarf and number of stitches, and he needs witnesses to watch him rum.
After practicing both hobbies at the same time, Babcock, 41, said he began seeking information on whether other people did the same thing.
“You do something unusual, you kind of wonder, ‘Well, am I the only one doing this?” Babcock said. “I went online, and tried to find a community of my people, and I was able to find different groups that were interested in the idea of just walking or doing something else while knitting.”
While searching online Babcock found out about Hewer and her record.
Through practice, Babcock found knitting and running is not easy.
“Anyone who is wanting to try this shouldn’t expect instant success,” Babcock said. “When I was first starting I had a fall and that was frustrating. There wasn’t any danger with the needles, but I had to catch myself with my hands. So, after that, I worked harder at keeping an eye on the holes in the road because I would hit a pot hole and that’d trip me up.”
Babcock said he also watches vehicles while running, and weather is a challenge. Wind can move the scarf being knitted, and colder temperatures can make his hands cold while he tries to knit.
Babcock said he found techniques that helped the combination.
“For a long time I was doing smaller nylon bags and nylon yarn,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t fray when it gets sweaty. I was using smaller circular needles, and doing little bags I would run with.”
Babcock said he ran the Kansas City marathon for the first time last year in under four hours.
During practice runs, Babcock said, if he had two balls of yarn, he could get through them in 90 minutes while running 10-minute miles.
With the Kansas City Marathon coming up on Saturday, Babcock said he is getting nervous because of the weather, and because he will hear reactions from people while he runs.
“I always wonder what people think,” Babcock said. “I always see people’s reaction in their cars as they drive by. Sometimes, I will later hear about it. I like that people think it’s funny. I like that people think it’s kind of strange. If it helps people challenge their own ideas of what they could be doing, I hope that if they see me or hear about me they’ll say, ‘If he can knit while he runs, maybe I can do my whatever.’”