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World Records Tumble
This month the 51-year-old strongman set his 103rd Guinness World Record – he holds 30 current official records – by carrying a person of exactly his own weight in a firefighting position one mile in fifteen minutes.
He previously ran 50 miles in under 9 hours while juggling three balls; balanced a bottle of milk on his head continuously for 81 miles; seventy-five 20oz pint glasses balanced on his chin; pogosticked the 1900 steps of Toronto’s CN Tower; somersaulted the entire 12 1/4 mile length of Paul Revere’s ride in Massachusetts; and walked 8 km on stilts in just under 40 minutes – to name a few. On the Oprah Winfrey show, Ashrita had to be escorted off the show by paramedics after she ate the hottest peppers in the world!
Other records set by Ashrita over the past three decades include fastest mile pushing an orange with her nose, fastest mile on a pogo stick, and most milk crates balanced on the anyone’s chin.
Ashrita timed her final attempt to coincide with Guinness World Records Day. Guinness Records, the custodian of all wacky and wonderful records has been around for 50 years and has set aside November 9 as the day to celebrate record accomplishments.
On hand to check Ashrita’s record was Stuart Claxton, head of Guinness’ US research team. “Guinness World Records has a healthy sense of humor, so we’re always interested in making it fun as well. But really, we’re looking for things that other people can actually beat because, like we always say, ‘Records are made to be broken’ – and that’s what we celebrate today,” he said.
Other record attempts have also taken place around the world to commemorate Guinness Record Day. This month in New York, Chad Fell blew a 20-inch bubblegum bubble, setting a record for the tallest without the use of hands. Aaron Studham of Leominster, Massachusetts sported the tallest Mohawk haircut, reaching 21 inches. Other Guinness records attempted included the ‘longest non-stop commercial flight’, from Hong Kong to Heathrow in London, and a group’s ‘largest milkshake’ attempt in Brisbane, Australia.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, of which Ashrita is a member, organizes another annual event in Germany to also commemorate Guinness World Records Day. Called the “Impossibility Challenger,” the day attracts participants from around the world determined to set world and personal records in a variety of non-Olympic disciplines. To athletes and record contenders, these feats have become known as “Guinnesssport.” The term was coined in the 70s to describe daredevil antics that earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, which also happens to be the best-selling book in the world. According to the organizers of the Impossibility Challenger and lovers of Guinnesssport, the aim is to “transcend human limits and challenge the seemingly impossible”.
This year Shobha Tipnis from India became the first woman in the world to inflate a hot water bottle with her lungs until it bursts. Gill Zafar from neighboring Pakistan lifted metal plates weighing 55kg with his right ear and held the weight for 12.2 seconds in the air. Shamita Achenbach-Konig set a Guinness record that pampered the ears – the professional cellist from Vienna played the cello for 24 hours.
Albert Walter, holder of the Swiss bench press record in 2004, set two new world records. He tore up a 960-page telephone book in 2.8 seconds and broke an 8.5 mm thick carpenter’s nail with his bare hands. Rainer Schroder from Germany towed a three-tonne truck with his tines for the Guinness World Record distance of 35.8 meters in one minute flat. Milan Roskopf of Slovakia set a world record by juggling three 20lbs [9kg] shot put for 25.6 seconds.
Ashrita Furman, the king of Guinnesssport and often the main draw card, at a recent Impossibility Challenger set not one but three new records. In the space of a few hours, he completed a mile of hula-hoop spinning, a mile of lunges [in which the knee had to touch the ground at every step]and standing on a gym ball, balancing three hours and 30 minutes and bettering his own record by over an hour.
Guinnesport fans expect the impossible from Furman. He broke so many records, in so many disciplines, that in 1987 Guinness editor Norris McWhirter honored him with the title ‘Mr. Versatility’ and allowed him a bonus record: the most world records in unrelated categories.
Anke Riedel, director of the new Impossibility-Challenger, recalls an earlier event in 1990, when Ashrita broke a record for playing the most games of hopscotch in 24 hours. At that same event, karate masters sliced blocks of ice and a daredevil rode his bike backwards while playing a violin. The Impossibility-Challenger is nothing if not diverse.
Over the past 25 years, Furman has broken more than 103 records in everything from yodeling to land rowing. “Ask the fans who the greatest athlete of all time is,” wrote the Christian Science Monitor, “and you’ll hear a familiar debate about the likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Babe Ruth.” Ask readers of the Guinness Book of World Records, however, and you’ll likely hear consensus on one name: Ashrita Furman.
Ashrita traveled to New Zealand in 2003 when he set a world record by juggling three lead balls underwater at Kelly Tarltons Underwater World for 48 minutes non-stop in a large aquarium. His first attempt was cut short after 16 minutes when a tiny parrotfish bit his nose repeatedly!
Furman credits all of his accomplishments to a lifelong practice of meditation, which he says helps develop intense focus in mind, self-confidence and willpower. He also does not hesitate to attribute all his records to his meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, 74 years old.
“As a teenager, I began to search for a deeper meaning in life and studied Eastern philosophy and yoga. I then attended an evening of meditation with the Indian master Sri Chinmoy, a meeting who changed the course of my life. Sri Chinmoy radically changed the way I looked at things. His philosophy of surpassing oneself, surpassing one’s limits and daily spiritual, creative and physical progress, using the power of meditation, really thrilled me.However, I was a bit unsure about the physical part in my case due to my lifelong commitment to nerdness.
But I have come to understand that the body is only an instrument of the mind and that, if performed in the right conscience, physical feats can be just as – if not more – uplifting than meditation. in a shrine!”
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