Fall of world records
This month, the 51-year-old strongman set his Guinness record number 103 (he has 30 current official records) by carrying a person of exactly his own weight in a firefighter transport position for one mile in fifteen minutes.
Previously, he had run 50 miles in less than 9 hours while juggling three balls; balanced a milk bottle on his head continuously for 81 miles; balanced seventy-five 20 oz pint glasses on his chin; climbed the 1900 steps of the CN Tower in Toronto; somersaulted the 12 1/4 mile journey of Paul Revere in Massachusetts; and walking 8 kms 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 eating the hottest chili peppers in the world!
Other records set by Ashrita in the past three decades include the fastest mile pushing an orange with the nose, the fastest mile on a jumper, and the most cartons of milk balanced on someone’s chin.
Ashrita timed her last attempt to coincide with Guinness World Records Day. Guinness Records, the keeper of all the crazy and wonderful records has been around for 50 years, and has set aside November 9 as a day to celebrate record achievements.
Checking out Ashrita’s track record was Stuart Claxton, head of the US Guinness research team. “Guinness World Records has a healthy sense of humor, so we’re always interested in it being fun too. But we really are. looking for things that other people can break because, as we always say, ‘records are meant to be broken’, and that’s what we’re celebrating today, “he said.
Other record attempts were also made around the world to mark Guinness Record Day. This month in New York, Chad Fell popped a 20-inch gum bubble, setting a record for the largest without the use of hands. Aaron Studham from Leominster, Massachusetts sported the tallest Mohawk haircut, reaching 21 inches that make the hair stand on end. Other Guinness records attempted included the ‘Longest Non-Stop Commercial Flight’, from Hong Kong to London Heathrow, and the ‘Largest Shake’ attempt by a group 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 Record Day. Called ‘Impossibility Challenger’, the one-day occasion draws participants from around the world hell-bent on setting world and personal records in a variety of non-Olympic disciplines. For athletes and record contenders, these feats are known as ‘Guinnessport’. The term was coined in the 1970s to describe the reckless antics that earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, which is also the world’s best-selling book. According to the organizers of the Impossibility Challenger and Guinnessport lovers, the goal is “to overcome human limitations and challenge the seemingly impossible.”
This year, Shobha Tipnis from India became the world’s first woman to inflate a hot water bottle with her lungs until it burst. Gill Zafar, from neighboring Pakistan, lifted metal plates weighing 55 kg 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, who held the Swiss bench press record in 2004, set two new world records. He tore a 960-page phone book in 2.8 seconds and broke an 8.5mm thick carpenter’s nail with his bare hands. Rainer Schroder from Germany towed a three-ton truck with teeth for the Guinness world record distance of 35.8 meters in a flat minute. Milan Roskopf of Slovakia set a world record juggling three 20 pounds [9kg] shot put for 25.6 seconds.
Ashrita Furman, the king of Guinnessport and often the main draw card, in 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 gymnastic ball, balancing three hours and 30 minutes and improving his own previous record by more than an hour.
Guinnesport fans expect the impossible from Furman. He has broken so many records, in so many disciplines, that in 1987 Guinness editor Norris McWhirter presented him with the title ‘Mr. Versatility ‘and allowed him an extra 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 the record for playing the most games of hopscotch in 24 hours. At that same event, karate masters cut blocks of ice and a daredevil rode a bicycle backwards while playing the violin. The Impossibility-Challenger is nothing but diverse.
In the past 25 years, Furman has broken more than 103 records in everything from singing to boulder to rowing on land. ‘Ask the fans who the greatest athlete of all time is,’ The Christian Science Monitor once wrote, ‘and you’ll hear a family debate about the likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Babe Ruth. Ask readers of the Guinness Book of World Records, though, and you likely hear the consensus on one name: Ashrita Furman ‘.
Ashrita visited New Zealand in 2003 when he set a world record juggling three lead balls underwater at Kelly Tarltons Underwater World for 48 minutes non-stop in a large fish tank. His first attempt was interrupted after 16 minutes when a small parrotfish repeatedly bit him on the nose!
Furman attributes all of his accomplishments to a lifelong meditation practice, which he believes helps develop intense focus on the mind, self-confidence, and willpower. He is also quick to attribute all of his records to his 74-year-old meditation teacher. Sri Chinmoy.
“In my teens I began to search for a deeper meaning to life and studied oriental philosophy and yoga. Later I attended an evening of meditation with the Indian teacher Sri Chinmoy, a meeting that changed the course of my life. Sri Chinmoy radically altered my way of living. His philosophy of self-transcendence, of overcoming his limits and progressing daily spiritually, creatively and physically, using the power of meditation, really touched me. However, I was a little unsure about the physical part in my case because to my lifelong commitment to the nerd.
But I came to understand that the body is only an instrument of the spirit and, if performed with the correct awareness, physical feats can be as, or even more, uplifting than meditating in a temple. “