Saturday, June 02, 2018

Meet the world record holder in ... world records

Terry Reilly's CBC show Under The Influence often features some fascinating stuff about marketing and advertising campaigns. But this week's episode also included a piece about a guy called Ashrita Furman, who holds the Guinness world record for holding Guinness world records.
Mr. Furman manages a health food store in New York as a day job, but since 1979 he has made it his life work to break as many world records as possible. Since then he has broken a ridiculous 628 Guinness world records, and to this day he is still the world record holder in over 200 different disciplines.
I say "disciplines" advisedly because, although some of his records are relatively mainstream and certainly impressive, some others are just plain bizarre (although perhaps no less impressive). For example, he has broken world records in jumping jacks (27,000), sit-ups (9,628 in one hour), pogo-ing up all 1,899 steps of Toronto's CN Tower in under an hour, etc. But he has also broken records for some more unusual tasks, e.g. somersaulting continuously for 12 miles, walking over 80 miles balancing a milk bottle on his head, yodelling for 27 straight hours, and opening the most beer bottles in a minute using a chain saw.
Mr. Furman's own website lists even more: fastest mile on a kangaroo ball; jumping rope on a pogo stick; underwater pogo stick jumping; underwater cycling; underwater juggling; mountain climbing on stilts; sack racing against a Mongolian yak; the world's largest popcorn sculpture; catching ping-pong balls with chopsticks; balancing a lawnmower on the chin; slicing potatoes while hopping on a shovel; balancing 700 eggs on end simultaneously; etc.
As you can imagine, Furman invented many of these records himself, which just goes to show that you are only limited by your imagination. But it has to be said that even some of these more unusual records are still prodigious athletic feats.
Mr. Furman insists that he is not a natural athlete, and attributes his achievements and endurance to years of meditation with guru Sri Chinmoy (the name Ashrita, meaning "protected by God", was granted him by Sri Chinmoy - his real name is the more prosaic Keith). I'm not entirely sure what Sri Chinmoy thinks about Truman's propensity for stilt-walking and potato-slicing. It does not seem particularly pious somehow.

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