Chattanooga woman is going to run 7 Bridges Marathon in high heels

Runners pass Coolidge Park with the Tennessee River in the background. The 7 Bridges Marathon and 4 Bridges Half Marathon, along with a 5K run were held simultaneously Sunday October 16, 2016 along the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

Irene Sewell will strap on her high heels Sunday morning and run a marathon.

She'll take off alongside runners in their Asics, Nikes and Adidas at this Sunday's 7 Bridges Marathon with six pairs of heels, attempting to break a Guinness world record.

"I read an article about a lady in London who had attempted this a few years ago," Sewell said. "She didn't ultimately get the record, but I thought, 'Hey, I should try that.'"

Sewell will have to finish in less than 7 hours and 30 minutes to break the record. She'll have at least two people alongside her to carry the extra high heels and will change them out every 5 miles to limit breakage, possibly causing injury.

World record officials are stringent, having disqualified a previous woman's attempt after she moved a few feet further along the course while changing shoes, race co-director Jay Nevans said.

"I think it's going to be great," Nevans said. "She's a friend of mine, and we've supported her effort. We're looking forward to her breaking the Guiness record."

Sewell has experience moving in heels. She was a professional ballroom dancer, often competing and dancing in the raised footwear.

Sewell turned to running after her dancing career ended, wanting to fuel her competitive nature. She's run the 7 Bridges half marathon, several marathons and competed in three Ironman 70.3 races.

To train, she's kept her normal running regimen. She will slip on heels for some runs to practice but has primarily trained like most marathon goers, in running shoes.

The only competitive run she's done in heels was the Magnum Mile fun run in August during the River Gorge Omnium.

The 7 Bridges Marathon caters to more inexperienced and non-elite runners, Nevans said.

"We do not cater to the elite runners. They are welcome, but our main focus are the folks who have maybe started with a couch-to-5k and then moved to a 10k and a half marathon before moving to a full," he said.

There are prizes but no cash payouts. Race directors boast of the marathon's laid-back nature, encouraging first timers and others just looking to achieve personal goals.

The race has more pace groups than most marathons, allowing for slower runners to find like-speeded companions, Nevans said.

Sunday's race will be the seventh year of 7 Bridges Marathon. A couple of thousand runners already are registered, and more will register before the cutoff Saturday afternoon.

The day features the 7 Bridges Marathon, Desmond Doss Memorial 4 Bridges Half Marathon, 7 Bridges Relay, a 5-kilometer race and a family fun run. Desmond Doss Jr., son of the famed Medal of Honor winner portrayed in the film "Hacksaw Ridge," will make an appearance at the race. There also will be a free showing Saturday of "The Race That Eats Its Young," a documentary about the Barkley Marathons. It will be followed by a question- and-answer segment with Barkley Marathon director Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at [email protected] or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.