World Record Record Holder

In 1979, Ashrita Furman, then age 24, decided to make an attempt at a life-long dream: break a world record.  Twenty seven thousand jumping jacks later, he succeeded. He hasn’t stopped since.

No, he isn’t still doing jumping jacks.  That, he has stopped.  He hasn’t stopped setting records.

In the 32 years since Furman completed an unfathomable amount of jumping jacks, he’s also set the record for the fastest mile run while balancing a baseball bat (seen above), the fastest mile while bouncing on a yoga ball (seen here, a feat performed at the Great Wall of China), balancing the most eggs end-to-end (888 of them), running the longest distance on stilts (about five miles) — and about 300 other records.  And of those 300, roughly 130 are still his. This gives Ashrita Furman claim to another record: according to the book of Guinness World Records, he set the record for the most current world records held by any individual.

Furman’s currently held records are a mix of eclectic activities, achieved while spanning the globe. They include the longest continuous distance somersaulting (over 12 miles!), the most games of hopscotch played in 24 hours (434 — that’s one every three and a half minutes), the shortest time peeling and eating a kiwi (5.35 seconds), eating the most M&Ms in a minute while blindfolded and using chopsticks (17), and the most candles burning on a cake (48,523).  The cake is particularly interesting, because it was made for Sri Chinmoy, an Indian mystic to whom Furman credits the record-keeper’s success.  As a teenager, Furman became a follower of Chinmoy’s and, with only two weeks of training, entered a 24-hour New York City bike race. Furman — who did not at the time consider himself to be athletic — finished third, and credited his “Inner Spirit” for giving him the strength to succeed in the race.

For Furman, the drive to break more and more records is more of the same. He told Good Morning America that breaking records is “part of his spiritual quest” and that originally, he decided to break a record as a way to tell more people about meditation.

And besides, it’s a really great reason to don a potato sack and race a yak. (Ashrita won.)

Bonus fact: Ever wonder why the Guinness World Records book and the beer Guinness share the same name? It’s not a coincidence. The book was created by a man named Hugh Beaver, who, one night at a bar, got into an argument over which European game bird was the fastest. Realizing that there was not a go-to reference for this, Beaver aimed to put one together — and then use it as a marketing giveaway for the company he worked for, Guinness Breweries. The book proved to be a success in its own right, and became the bestseller we are now all familiar with.  (And the fastest game bird in Britain, per the book, is the red grouse. The book hasn’t addressed the question for Europe as a whole.)

From the ArchivesThe World’s Youngest Mother: Here’s a record Furman won’t be setting — unless he becomes a five year old girl. (Yes, a five year old girl.)  Also, Extreme Summer Vacation, the story of a young boy (age 12) who spent a summer climbing to the top of the highest peak in each of the 50 U.S. states.

RelatedThe Guinness World Records book — or, perhaps, the list of things Ashrita Furman has accomplished, combined with the list of things he’s still considering.

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