A Microsoft engineer has made it into the Guinness book of world records – for running the fastest marathon dressed in a sari.
Jayanthi Sampathkumar competed in a 42-kilometer event in Hyderabad in traditional Indian attire on 20 August this year and crossed the finish line in four hours, 57 minutes and 44 seconds. She was officially awarded a Guinness World Record this week.
Sampathkumar is a Principal Engineering Manager at Microsoft in Hyderabad. When she’s not working on the Bing Knowledge Graph, she follows her passion for collecting saris painstakingly made by artisans on handlooms.
She got the idea to compete in a sari after reading about a man who set a record for the fastest marathon wearing a business suit. “If he could do it in a business suit, perhaps I could achieve this feat wearing a sari,” she says. “I do not want women to have any limitations in their head when it comes to wearing a sari. A sari is a piece of clothing. Women can continue to be traditional, but that should not stop them from achieving their goals.”
A sari is a wide strip of cotton cloth that is wrapped around the body. Usually saris are around six yards long, but Sampathkumar chose a nine-yard one that gave her more freedom to move. Her garment was made by Project ReWeave, a traditional crafts group that is supported by Microsoft Philanthropies. Set up in April 2016, it focuses on reviving the handloom-weaving ecosystem across various clusters in India with the help of technology.