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As thousands prepared to take part in the Liverpool Half Marathon, sporting shorts and t-shirts, Old Blue Alistair Rutherford from the Class of 2013, stepped into his custom made viola suit, as he attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon, dressed as a musical instrument. A student at the prestigious Birmingham Conservatoire, Alistair ran in aid of Arco, a scheme which brings together members of the Conservatoire’s String Department and the Cape Gate MIAGI in Soweto. An active member of the project, Alistair sheds light on his role and reveals what it was like to finally meet his students during a trip to Soweto.


“Arco, the collaborative project between Birmingham Conservatoire and Cape Gate MIAGI Soweto, South Africa, was conceived in June 2015 by my viola teacher Louise Lansdown. For me it seemed a no-brainer to include myself in the project. We spent many months drawing up teaching times and schedules and then it wasn’t until October 2015 that I was confirmed to be teaching my two fantastic students Njabulo and Kgaugelo. My first one-to-one Skype teaching lesson was January 2016 and I have been teaching the kids week in week out ever since.

It was a life-changing experience going to South Africa for the first time in August 2016. We were fortunate to spend 5 full days with the kids in Soweto, Johannesburg. To be able to finally meet with my students in person was such a fantastic experience and over the five days the kids made tremendous progress and were inspired to keep up their incredible hard work and diligence.

I was inspired to host the event at IKON for Arco after providing the kids in Soweto with chamber music coaching. It was so rewarding for both the teachers and students and every single student involved with the project performed in each of their string quartets in the closing concert of the festival.

Arco relies on the generosity and support of donations. All teachers involved work tirelessly to maintain the project and enable it to continue. In my most recent fundraising attempt I am completely humiliating myself and aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument (I will be dressed as a custom made viola) at the Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday 2nd April at 09:00am. I will be followed by a support crew who are going to live stream my effort to my personal Facebook page.”

We can confirm that Alistair achieved his goal, breaking the Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon dressed as a musical instrument. Congratulations Alistair!

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