Ashrita Furman: for those who need to ask, no answer is sufficient
Ashrita Furman is living his dream.
Which is a lot more than I can say for myself.
Not that life isn’t good. I have wonderful family and friends; interesting work – and plenty of it, knock on wood; an excellent hair colorist; a creative outlet that lets me occasionally fantasize about living my dream; a pair of Uggs; and what can only be characterized as (knock yet again on wood) spectacularly good health. (By the time he would have been my age, my father had already been dead for a few years. These are the things you start to think about when you pass your parents in longevity.)
But while life is good, I’m not exactly living my dream.
Which Ashrita Furman is.
His dream is to be the Guinness Book of Records record holder di tutti record holders. And he is.
Mr. Furman, who was profiled in the WSJ the other day, has, over the course of the last 31 years, set 312 Guinness records.
The key to be the record holder among record holders is, apparently, to come up with interesting ideas for new records, pitch them to Guinness, and go out and set them.
Records, of course, are set to be broken, and although Furman has set 312, he “only” holds 122. The first record he set – most jumping jacks (27,000) in 1979, has been surpassed. His longest- lived current record is for longest continuous somersaulting – over 12 miles, set in 1986. All of his current records are listed on his website. A lot of them seem to entail pogosticking, somersaulting, balancing, and hulahooping – including a record for underwater hulahooping (I’m impressed). But not all are such physical specimen feats.
Furman, who runs a health food store in Queens, also does big: longest pencil (76 ft, 2.75 inches), heaviest lollipop (6,514 pounds), and largest popcorn sculpture (20 ft., 10 inches).
And – no surprise here – decidedly odd: cucumber (87 in a minute), apple (36 in a minute), chopstick (81 in a minute), and banana (99 in a minute) snapping. Who’da thunk that it’s easier to snap a cucumber than it is to snap a chopstick. Chopsticks, after all, do seem more snappable than the mushier cuke. Maybe Furman had access to really crispy cukes.
By the way, he didn’t snap all his chopsticks. He saved a pair, so that he could set the record for Jello eating with chopsticks (16.04 ounces in one minute).
Furman also holds the records for tee-shirt tearing, on (15 in a minute), and off (14). Boy, even on my most frenzied rag-making tear, I bet I topped out at a half dozen in a minute. Then again, I wasn’t trying to set a record. Not my dream: someone else’s.
Personally, I don’t have any record breaking dreams. But if you do, you might want to let Guinness know.
Guinness says it receives about 1,000 applications a week for new record categories. About 80% are rejected. It currently has about 40,000 categories.
80% rejection rate! 80% empty, 20% full, I say. Good luck.
Almost weekly, someone in the world is breaking one of [Ashrita Furman’s] records. His response: Work to retake it and come up with more competitions.
"I want to inspire people," says Mr. Furman, who is almost always training for three or four events. "If you have a dream, you can achieve your dream. I'm living my dream."
Yesterday was Guinness World Records Day.
Furman was going for the “walking with the heaviest shoes.” In his case, a pair of bespoke clodhoppers weighing in at 160 pounds per boot.
One more for the record book.