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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 his exact weight in a Fireman’s Carry position for a mile in fifteen minutes.
Previously he ran 50 miles in less than 9 hours, while punishing with three balls; balanced a bottle of milk on his head continuously for 81 miles; balanced seventy-five 20 oz pint glasses on his chin; climbed the 1,900 steps of Toronto’s CN Tower; somersaulted the entire 12 1/4 mile length of Paul Revere’s Massachusetts ride; and walked 8km in just under 40 minutes – to name a few. On Oprah Winfrey’s show, Ashrita had to be escorted off the show by doctors after eating the world’s hottest chili peppers!
Other records set by Ashrita over the past three decades include the fastest mile pushing an orange with her nose, the fastest mile on a pogo stick and the most milk crates ever balanced on one’s chin.
Ashrita timed his latest attempt to coincide with Guinness World Records Day. Guinness Records, the holder of all the weird and wonderful records has been around for 50 years and has set aside November 9 as a day to celebrate record breaking achievements.
On hand to verify Ashrita’s record was Stuart Claxton, head of Guinness’s US research team. “Guinness World Records has a healthy sense of humor, so we’re always interested in it being fun too. But really we’re looking for things that other people can break because as we always say, ” “Records must be broken’ – and that’s what we’re celebrating today,” he said.
Other record attempts were also held around the world to commemorate Guinness World Records Day. This month in New York, Chad Fell popped a 20-inch bubble gum, setting a record for the largest without using his hands. Aaron Studham of Leominster, Massachusetts had the longest Mohawk haircut, at 21 inches. Other Guinness records being attempted included the ‘Longest Non-Stop Commercial Flight’, from Hong Kong to London Heathrow and the ‘Largest Milkshake’ attempt by a group in Brisbane, Australia.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, of which Ashrita is a member, organizes a further annual event in Germany to also commemorate Guinness World Records Day. Dubbed ‘The Impossibility Challenger’, the one-day event attracts participants from around the world determined to set world and personal records in a range of non-Olympic disciplines. For athletes and record contenders, these achievements have become known as ‘Guinnessport’. The term was coined in the seventies to describe daring acts 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 Impossibility Challenger organizers and Guinnessport fans, the goal is to ‘overcome human limitations 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 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 an ear-splitting Guinness record – the professional cellist from Vienna played the cello for 24 hours.
Albert Walter, the Swiss bench press record holder for 2004, set two new world records. He tore through 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 pulled a three-ton truck with his teeth to a Guinness World Record distance of 35.8 meters in one minute flat. Milan Roskopf of Slovakia set a world record by juggling three 20-pounders [9kg] shots for 25.6 seconds.
Ashrita Furman, king of Guinnessport and often the main draw card, set not one, but three new records in a recent Impossibility challenge. In the space of a few hours he completed a mile of hula hoops, a mile of lunges [in which the knee had to touch the ground at every step]and standing on an exercise ball, clocking three hours and 30 minutes and beating his previous record by more than an hour.
Guinnesport fans have expected the impossible from Furman. He has broken so many records, in so many disciplines, that in 1987 Guinness editor Norris McWhirter bestowed upon him the title of ‘Mr. Agility’ and allowed him a bonus record: 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 hopscotch games in 24 hours. At the same event, karate masters cut blocks of ice and a daredevil rode a bicycle backwards while playing the violin. The Impossibility-Challenger is nothing if not diverse.
Over the past 25 years, Furman has broken over 103 records in everything from yodeling to rowing. “Ask fans who the greatest athlete of all time is,” the Christian Science Monitor once wrote, “and you’ll hear a familiar debate over players like 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 visited New Zealand in 2003 when she set a world record by juggling three lead balls underwater at Kelly Tarlton Underwater World for 48 minutes non-stop in a large fish tank. His first attempt was cut short after 16 minutes when a small parrot repeatedly bit him on the nose!
Furman attributes all of his accomplishments to a lifelong practice of meditation, which he believes helps develop intense focus of mind, self-confidence, and willpower. He is also quick to entrust all his insights to his meditation teacher, 74-year-old Sri Chinmoy.
“In my teens I began to search for a deeper understanding of life and studied Eastern philosophy and yoga. Later I attended an evening meditation with the Indian master Sri Chinmoy, an encounter that changed the course of my life. Sri Chinmoy fundamentally changed the way I how I saw things. His philosophy of self-transcendence, of pushing your limits and making daily progress spiritually, creatively, and physically, using the power of meditation, really excited me. However, I was a little unsure about the physical in my case due to sharing my lifelong commitment to stupidity.
But I came to understand that the body is simply an instrument of the soul and, if performed in the right awareness, physical feats can be as – or even more – uplifting than meditating in a temple!”
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