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University of Central Missouri
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After Knitting His Way into World Record, UCM Runner Ready for NYC Marathon

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 24, 2014) –The opportunity to join nearly 50,000 people in the New York City Marathon is challenging enough for most runners, but a University of Central Missouri faculty member, David Babcock, will add an extra degree of difficulty to his participation in this prestigious event. The associate professor of art and design and Guinness World Record holder will finger knit a yarn scarf while making the 26.2-mile trek through the Big Apple Nov. 2, an effort he’s undertaking to help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

Babcock caught the attention of many bystanders who watched him in the Kansas City Marathon Oct. 19, 2013. With a large supply of yard and his knitting tools, “The Knitter,” as he became known in the Kansas City event, crossed the finish line with a scarf he created along the route that measured 12 feet, one and three-quarters of an inch long. Babcock finished the race in five hours, 48 minutes and 27 seconds, while breaking a record previously set by Sewsie Hewer of the United Kingdom, who knitted a scarf six feet, eight inches long while participating in the London Marathon. Like Hewer, Babcock uses his marathon participation as an opportunity to help raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s research.

David Babcock

David Babcock, associate professor of art and design at the University of Central Missouri, displays a scarf he finger knitted while participating in a 13.1 mile run in Kansas City Oct. 18. The holder of a Guinness World Record for a scarf he produced with knitting tools while participating in the 2013 Kansas City Marathon , Babcock plans to create another scarf with only the dexterity of his fingers while running in the New York City Marathon Nov. 2.

On his website dedicated to his philanthropy, Babcock notes that more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and that the number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050.

“The more people that engage in the Alzheimer’s cause, the more that will be done to support caregivers and find a cure,” Babcock said.

Babcock returned to Kansas City Oct. 18, 2014 where he participated in the half marathon as a way to prepare for the New York event. Because of tight security in New York, he will not bring his knitting needles, crochet hooks and other tools that he uses in the knitting process. He will create a small scarf made by unraveling yarn he is actually wearing.

 Babcock prepared for the NYC Marathon by taking to the Kansas City streets with only the dexterity of his fingers to turn a supply of royal blue yarn and what he described as a “yellowy-green color” into a scarf. Over the 13.1-mile trek, he set a personal-best time of one hour, 44 minutes and 19 seconds, but most of all it was an opportunity to get some much-needed preparation for the next upcoming race.

While juggling his responsibilities as an educator at UCM, Babcock has prepared for the NYC Marathon running near Warrensburg, Mo., where he lives, and sometimes utilizing facilities available on campus.

“On the running side, I’ve been trying to follow a schedule which includes long runs up to 20 miles,” he said. “For several weeks, I was running distances longer than a half marathon three days a week. I run the county roads around Warrensburg as swell as the treadmill in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (UCM).”

He added that at least once a week, he engages in a knitting run. Babcock has detailed many of his running events and training on a blog that can be found online at knittingrunner.com, which also provides more information about his quest to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. The website provides information about how people can help support the cause through their financial gifts, and information about Lion Brand Yarn Company, which is working with him to provide a limited number of his scarves to people who share their Alzheimer’s stories on the company’s blog.

As Babcock noted, running and knitting for a good cause requires strong concentration, and certainly unique challenges that other runners don’t have to endure.  He first attempt to knit while running was in April 2012. From then on, turning out small knit bags became part of his challenging routine.

“You can get really confused and tangled. Many times, including the latest run, my yarn ball will pop out of my bag and roll down the road,” he said.

Regardless of difficulty, Babcock is sure to get attention when he’s running.

“For many spectators, it takes them a while to register in their heads what they are seeing,” he noted. “I’ll often pass right by someone and then hear them saying, ‘Was that guy knitting?’ Many of my fellow runners will say ‘Hi’ and tell me that they can’t believe that I am doing something of that complexity while running the same speed that they too are struggling with. On the run, I am simply ‘the Knitter.’ People seem to be supportive and happy to see me.” 

People who want to know more about Babcock can go to his website at knittingrunner.com or donated directly to the Alzheimer’s Association at act.alz.org/goto/theknittingrunner-nycm14.