Running a marathon in handcuffs: Couple finds unique way to celebrate anniversary

Rich and Megan MacDonald will run in handcuffs during the Calgary Marathon in an attempt to break a world record. (Submitted by Megan MacDonald - image credit)
Rich and Megan MacDonald will run in handcuffs during the Calgary Marathon in an attempt to break a world record. (Submitted by Megan MacDonald - image credit)

Megan and Rich MacDonald are seasoned runners who are going to find out whether it's possible to run for more than three hours in handcuffs while staying in sync and tackling any unexpected hiccups.

"We've been married for 20 years and raising two kids and we've done a lot of running events, endurance events together," said Rich in a conversation on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"Our communication is pretty good or it better be good, I think," he added.

According to the couple, it's going to be crucial to remain calm and ensure they're on the same page. For example, if they see a cone in the distance, they'll want to check with each other and stay on track instead of ending up going in different directions.

The MacDonalds, who have already broken five running-related Guinness World Records in the past, are hoping to set a new record this weekend.

"We are going for a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon of two people, mixed couple," said Megan.

The current world record in the aforementioned category sits at 3 hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds, a feat that was achieved in April 2019.

'I think it really speaks to just their creativity'

"We've had a long history of people attempting Guinness World Records," said Jon Bird, interim executive director at Run Calgary.

He recalled a memorable incident, when someone attempted a world record for the "fastest half marathon in a cowboy outfit."

Bird commended the MacDonalds for pursuing such an ambitious goal.

"I think it really speaks to just their creativity," he said while joking that something like this wouldn't work in his case.

"I certainly know that my wife probably wouldn't put up with me running that length," Bird said.

LISTEN | Megan and Rich MacDonald talk about running in handcuffs:

While Megan and Rich have been training hard for the event, they haven't spent too much time running with the handcuffs on.

"We haven't practised some of the critical things, such as washroom breaks and aid stations and things like that," said Rich before adding they'll probably focus on fine-tuning those strategies a few days before the event.

The idea of running in handcuffs may seem like it's meant to cause discomfort, but Megan feels otherwise.

"It's actually surprisingly comfortable," she said. "So you tighten up the handcuff and it doesn't move too much. It's just a lot of shoulder bumping, elbow bumping, and obviously the added weight while we're running."

Submitted by Megan MacDonald
Submitted by Megan MacDonald

The MacDonalds are also rooting for a cause that's deeply personal — they're raising funds for MitoCanada, an organization that assists Canadians living with mitochondrial disease.

"Our inspiration comes from people like our friends' son, Evan Penny, and others affected by mitochondrial disease who deal with significant challenges every day," the couple said in a statement.

"By raising funds and awareness, we hope to help ease the pain and suffering of patients and their families."

What's the goal? They're targeting $100 for every kilometre they manage to run.

"Megan and Rich have always been there to roll up their sleeves or lace up their shoes to support our cause," said Kate Murray, CEO and president of MitoCanada.

"There's never been a shortage of creativity to match the energy and the passion that they bring to raising awareness for MitoCanada."

'I think it's just a fun way to enjoy running'

The MacDonalds already have a game plan to overcome practical challenges. For instance, they're going to use tennis sweatbands to prevent chafing from the handcuffs. They'll also work with an elite cyclist who'll try to keep the track as clear as possible.

At the end of the day, the couple believes this is a great way to fuel their passion for running.

"I think it's just a fun way to enjoy running and be a part of the running community," Rich said. "I get to do it with my wife, which is great."