Road hog: 'Mudonna' to pursue mascot record during Twin Cities Marathon

ST. PAUL The more than 11,000 runners who will line up for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Sunday will have a new challenge to contend with besides blisters, bloody nipples and bonking. There's a good chance they might be beat by a giant pink pig.

Baseball card for St. Paul Saints mascot Mudonna


The more than 11,000 runners who will line up for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Sunday will have a new challenge to contend with besides blisters, bloody nipples and bonking.

There's a good chance they might be beat by a giant pink pig.

Mudonna, the costumed mascot of the St. Paul Saints baseball team, plans to run the 26.2-mile race, and she's aiming to shake her bacon.

That's because the person inside the costume, Seigo Masubuchi, the Saints' director of international development, is gunning for a marathon world record for costumed mascots.


The record -- four hours, 16 minutes and 43 seconds -- was set last October by Jefferson the dog at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

If the weather cooperates, Masubuchi as Mudonna thinks he has a chance at finishing the race in four hours. That time would have been good enough to beat more than 5,000 of the 8,197 runners who completed the Twin Cities Marathon last year.

Masubuchi doesn't normally wear the Mudonna costume at Saints games, but he decided to try for the mascot marathon record as a way to raise money for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

The 39-year-old Tokyo native is a veteran runner with more than 40 marathons under his belt.

But running in a furry 18-pound costume is a challenge even for someone who has done a sub-three-hour marathon.

"It's hot. I sweat a lot," Masubuchi said of his weekend training runs along the Mississippi River and Summit Avenue in

St. Paul dressed as Mudonna. "One time, I lost about eight pounds.

"A friend of mine is trying to install a fan in the head," he said.


He said a 3-inch-diameter computer fan didn't help much, so the next option is a five-inch fan. But Masubuchi said he's worried that might make the pig head too heavy.

"When I'm running with this head, my neck gets really tight," he said.

And a rule of the Guinness World Records, the mascot marathon record keeper, is the head must stay on during the entire race.

Masubuchi wore the costume during a hot Fourth of July half-marathon. He said both of his calves cramped up and he fell at the 11-mile point. Mudonna's head bounced off and Masubuchi finished in two hours and nine minutes.

"I felt like I could have run 2:03," he said.

Masubuchi also has to cope with the comments he gets when he trains in costume.

"People ask me, 'Did you lose a bet?' " he said.

To help answer questions, he's added a vest to the costume that says, "For Japanese Disaster Relief."


Vision is limited in the costume head. During the marathon, Masubuchi will have eight pacers helping guide him through the race and rehydrating him with a straw.

Whether a pig can outrun a dog will depend on the weather, according to Masubuchi.

Rain will be a disaster.

"Rain makes the costume much heavier," he said.

Temperatures 70 or higher also will be a problem.

"I'm hoping for 30-degree weather. Thirty would be perfect for me," Masubuchi said.

"Seigo has to focus a lot of his energy on mental toughness," advised Peter Donato, owner of a Toronto sports marketing company and the man inside the dog costume at the Toronto marathon last year.

Jefferson is the mascot for Donato's company. Donato, 45, has done an Ironman triathlon and a 2:49 marathon. But he said wearing the dog suit for 26.2 miles was the hardest thing he's done.


"There are very few mascot attempts because it's one of the hardest," Donato said.

Masubuchi hopes to raise at least $5,000 for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. He said the Adobe Systems software company has agree to match donations.

And the Saints have offered incentives that include a chance to throw a ceremonial first pitch for people who pledge $5 per mile. You can take batting practice and play catch with a player before a game if you pledge $10 per mile.

But if Masubuchi does set a record, it may not last long.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has partnered with Guinness World Records to challenge runners to set the mascot record as well as the record for fastest marathon run by someone dressed as a vegetable and by someone dressed as a television character at the Oct. 16 race.

Then there's Virgin London Marathon in April. Last spring, that race set 36 Guinness World Records, including most Rubik's cubes solved while running a marathon and fastest marathon in a bomb-disposal suit.

"The costumes add a lot to the sense of joy and celebration," said Alan Brookes, director of the Toronto marathon. "It also brings out spectators. The spectators love that sort of thing."

"I wouldn't say we encourage it or discourage it. It's kind of a personal thing," said Marlene Wright, marketing and media director for the Twin Cities Marathon, of people who want to run the marathon in costume or juggling or carrying a big flagpole.


Still, she said, she did give the race's medical staff advance notice that someone in a pig costume will be running on Sunday.

Richard Chin can be reached at 651-228-5560.


For more information and to donate to the Mudonna run, see .


(c)2011 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

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