What Drives People to Try to Get Into the Guinness Book?

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What Drives People to Try to Get Into the Guinness Book? (part 2)



 
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BARBARA KLEIN: There are thirty thousand Guinness record categories, including some that are no longer active. The company publishes about four thousand records a year in the book and posts just three thousand records online.

Larry Olmsted says everyone who hears he has set world records wants to know how they can set a record. The easiest way to get into the Guinness book, he says, is to be a top athlete who is the best in the world at a sport. Good luck.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: For those interested, the Guinness World Records website has a section called Set a Record. It says a record should be "provable, quantifiable and breakable."

Guinness says it hears from tens of thousands of people each year who want to set a record. Guinness officials may take more than a month to decide if they will accept a record-breaking attempt. They reject about eighty percent of the applications.

If they accept a proposal, they send detailed instructions about how to confirm that a record has been set. In some cases, someone from Guinness may come to the record-setting attempt. If not, there should be at least two witnesses who are not friends along with a written record of the activity.

The attempt should be made in a public place. Photographs and media reports will help prove to Guinness that a record was set.

Thousands of people perform at the Monument of the Revolution in Mexico City, during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record of people dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller, in 2009. The event was organized in honor of the late pop star's birthday.

There is a long list of records that Guinness will not accept. For instance, they do not recognize perfect school attendance. Nor do they recognize any activity that could harm people or animals.

BARBARA KLEIN: Over the years, the Guinness book has had a number of competitors. Larry Olmsted, author of "Getting Into Guinness," found that most have not survived.

But around the world, he says, there is a subculture of people who spend a great deal of time trying to set or break records. He believes that, at any given time, each record has a few hundred people either thinking about or actively trying to break it.

We asked him what record he would most like to hold.

LARRY OLMSTED: "Uh, richest man in the world [laughs]."

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: The first chapter of his book is about Ashrita Furman. Mr. Furman has been setting records since nineteen seventy-nine. That was when he did twenty-seven thousand jumping jack exercises.

Ashrita Furman is fifty-six years old and a vegetarian who manages a health-food store. He lives near New York City in a small apartment with few possessions.

He has set records on all seven continents. In fact, he holds the record for holding the most Guinness records. He says he sets records so he can deepen his relationship with God.

ASHRITA FURMAN: "This is my way of, you know, trying to transcend my limitations by going deep within, trying to get closer to God through meditation and through prayer and through service. So this is my own, you might say, unusual quest, my own unusual path to get closer to God. The records themselves at this point, really, you know, in and of themselves don’t mean anything. At this point it’s really just for the challenge of it -- for my own, you might say, personal fulfillment."

BARBARA KLEIN: Ashrita Furman travels around the world setting records. His records include bouncing a ball the fastest for one mile, or 1.6 kilometers, on the Great Wall of China. He has also completed the fastest mile bouncing up and down on a pogo stick in Antarctica.

Mr. Furman has walked eighty miles, or one hundred twenty-nine kilometers, with a bottle balanced on his head. And in nineteen eighty-one he clapped his hands for fifty hours.

In all, he has set or broken more than three hundred forty records. Some of these have been broken by others. But he still holds more than one hundred twenty records and sets many new ones every year.

ASHRITA FURMAN: "The last few years it’s been around fifty or so. Those fifty, many of them are physically challenging and do take sometimes up to, you know, three or four months of training. And some of them are really very simple and involve peeling and eating a lemon in the fastest time or something like that.”

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Ashrita Furman says he is happy if other people break his records. In fact, he offers advice on his website. He says whatever record you choose to try to break, make sure it is something you love doing and something that gives you joy.

And he offers this advice once you have chosen the record you want to set: Train hard. Plan ahead. Be patient -- don't give up. Expect the unexpected. And learn concentration. He says meditating has helped him set his records.

At this point it’s really just for the challenge of it -- for my own, you might say, personal fulfillment."

ASHRITA FURMAN: "You know, when you’re really having a good meditation you feel that you are separate from your body, that whatever is happening to that body is not happening to me -- I'm the soul and I transcend that body. To me it’s the most fufilling thing that I can do It keeps me in really good shape. It brings me [a] tremendous amount of fulfillment, of closeness to God. And I‘ve had spiritual experiences in the middle of a record. So, I never want to stop."

BARBARA KLEIN: I'm Barbara Klein with Christopher Cruise, who wrote this week's program. Our producer was Brianna Blake.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Have you ever thought about trying to set a world record? Have you ever succeeded? We want to hear from you. Share your stories at the VOA Learning English page on Facebook or at voaspecialenglish.com.

There, you can find transcripts and MP3s of Special English programs and a section for English learners called The Classroom.

Be sure to join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Grammar notes:

- make an attempt (to do sth): nỗ lực, cố gắng (làm gì)
The attempt should be made in a public place.

- spend time doing sth: dành thời gian làm gì
But around the world, he says, there is a subculture of people who spend a great deal of time trying to set or break records.

- deepen a relationship with: làm sâu sắc mối quan hệ với
He says he sets records so he can deepen his relationship with God.

- a tremendous amount of sth: một lượng lớn cái gì
It brings me [a] tremendous amount of fulfillment, of closeness to God.

 

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