Her time for the 100 metres was 22.99 seconds, unofficially.
That’s twice as long as it took Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica to cover the same distance in winning gold at the recent Tokyo Games (10.61 seconds).
Yet Vernon summer resident Julie McCann (née Holland) covered 100 metres in a way Thompson-Herah never did, and likely not many other women for that matter.
McCann, 38, mother of three, raced 100 metres in an unofficial clocking of 22.99 seconds Monday morning, Aug. 9, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park – on all fours.
Yes, she used her feet and her hands to set an unofficial Guinness World Record as the fastest woman to cover 100 metres on all fours. She’s been doing such a thing since she was about three years old, though her parents, Ken and Cindy Holland, have no idea where she got the talent from.
McCann herself said she’d always wanted to be a horse. She kept running on her hands and feet into her 20s – sometimes as a party trick.
“About six years ago, I saw a man from Japan set the world record for the men’s and I couldn’t believe this was something that could be a world record,” said McCann, who will move to Calgary with her family at summer’s end.
“I just gave birth to my third child, my little girl, and I thought this would give me the motivation to get into being active again. More than anything else, I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I could do it in my 20s but could I still do it in my 30s?”
The goal Monday, according to McCann and Guinness, was to be below 25 seconds. She had covered the distance in 22 seconds in training. With official timers Akbal Mund, Ann Holmes and Marty Stein at the ready, McCann hunched over in the starting block and never straightened up until she crossed the finish line 22.99 seconds later.
McCann had plenty of support Monday. Her mom and dad were there, so were aunts and uncles, cousins, City of Vernon witnesses, family friends as timers/witnesses and photographer/videographer, and her four biggest fans, her husband, Derek and three kids, Hunter, Austin and Adeline. Close to 20 people cheering her on down the front stretch of the GVAP track in front of the grandstand.
“It actually makes a big difference,” said McCann. “When I did my trial run, I didn’t have a whole bunch of support and it felt a whole lot more exhausting. But I could hear everybody cheering me on. So usually about 10-to-15 seconds in, it gets to be quite hard on the body. But today, I felt like I could keep going.”
McCann’s oldest son Hunter got away from grandpa Ken and crossed the finish line ahead of mom which led to some good-natured ribbing for Holland, the Vernon native, Hockey Hall of Famer and the current president of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. He couldn’t hide his pride for his daughter after the event.
“We used to think it was strange she would run on her feet and her hands but now, some 35 years later, she’s setting a world record,” smiled Holland. “It’s funny how fate goes. My wife Cindi and I are very, very proud of her. She’s been training really hard for today.”
The result will be submitted to Guinness to verify that McCann indeed established a world record in Vernon.
Asked if she’d do it again, McCann said: “in a heartbeat.”
“I’ll resume my regular training but I know I can do this,” she said. “I won’t stop until my name is in the Guinness book.”