The viola may be the least-respected instrument in the orchestra (if you don’t believe me, this is just one of several websites dedicated to viola jokes), but a student from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has given it a share of a Guinness World Record: running the fastest marathon dressed as a musical instrument.

Alistair Rutherford – a.k.a The Running Viola – ran the Birmingham International Marathon wearing a custom-made viola suit, and finished in 3 hours, 20 minutes and 33 seconds, smashing the previous record by almost an hour. It may have helped that fellow students from the Conservatoire serenaded Alistair and the other runners with two world premieres commissioned especially for the occasion.

Alistair was also running on behalf of ARCO, a non-profit that allows underserved youth in South Africa to take music lessons from Conservatoire students via Skype. He and his viola suit have run several events for ARCO, and some of the money he has raised will bring three students from Soweto to the UK for lessons and performances as part of the upcoming Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition.


So, take heart, fellow lovers of the lowly viola – for this shining moment, “Faster than a speeding violist” is not just a bad traffic joke!

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