Breaking world records was once a zealous industry in which human achievement was stretched to unfathomable limits. But as the opportunities for shattering history dwindle with every mammoth-sized rubber-band ball and overly pierced rebel, optimistic competitors are forced to peruse another field of play.
Sports, of course.
Consisting of professional athletes, cheerleaders and inspired dreamers, this record-breaking crew is quietly engaging in some of the quirkiest activities known to man. These obtuse achievements almost cloud the illustrious sports records we're all aware of, given their unique nature and soulful participants.
Insanity and circus-esque creativity continue to flood the record books. Enjoy the three-ring spectacle of madness that is world-record athleticism.
Cue the carnival music...
Taking the term "recess" to the next level, 4,488 students split into two teams and scattered 1,000 balls onto the lawns of UC Irvine in California during an effort to break the record for largest dodgeball game.
Phi Kappa Psi and Dodgeball Club at the Rochester Institute of Technology held the previous record of 2,136 participants, which was more than doubled by the Irvine youth.
A true underdog story.
Quality over quantity is the motto Tommie Bonds followed when he achieved the world's longest backflip, measuring 3.75 meters (12'3").
These competitors also seemingly broke the record for most pairs of yellow pants worn on stage at one time. A breathtaking performance all around.
Not only is Christopher Bergland a three-time winner of the Triple Iron Man—the world's longest nonstop triathlon—but the world traveler is officially the stationary record holder for treadmill running.
His 153.76 miles in 24 hours sets a new standard for dedicated gym rats looking for a challenge. Forrest Gump would be proud.
Preaching longevity over celerity, Irish ultra-distance runner Tony Mangan traveled his treadmill for a record 48 hours back in 2008, covering a distance of 405.22 kilometers (251.79 miles) and matching Bergland's fast feat (see last slide) with stamina.
The two-day record was only a warmup, though, as Mangan is now running around the world for Aware, a charity to defeat depression. Treadmills across the globe, beware.
Becoming a scientific anomaly, 100-year-old Frenchman Robert Marchand achieved the unthinkable when he completed 300 laps at a track in Lyon, France, in record time (4:17:27), breaking the centenarian record for the fastest 100 kilometers on bicycle.
Locked in a 100-going-on-20 nature, the 112-pound cyclist seems determined to continue shattering expectations.
When BYU hosted a record 826 rock-paper-scissors players in 2008, inspired students around the world couldn't help but dream of the possibilities.
In 2009, that dream became reality, as 1,161 students from the Colonel By Secondary School in Gloucester, Canada, rocked, papered and scissored toward greatness. Who's next?
Jai alai, a Latin America-popularized sport that features a ball bounced off a walled space, is colloquially known as the fastest ball-speed sport in the world.
The fastest smash ever, however, was done by Chinese badminton star Fu Haifeng, who recorded a 332-kph (206 mph) swat at the 2005 Sudirman Cup, the fastest propulsion of a shuttle on record.
While her husband was pleading for the nation's youth to vote, Michelle Obama was begging them to participate in a record-breaking attempt.
As part of her Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity, Obama led hundreds of students onto the South Lawn of the White House. With 300,265 total participants worldwide, the record for jumping-jack attendees in a 24-hour period (previously 20,000) was crushed.
She was simply living the dream.
"This world record attempt is definitely one of the most unusual things I've ever been asked to do with a car," said Scottish former Formula One driver David Coulthard after catching up to a 286-km/h golf ball with a glistening Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster.
Rocketed off the tee by pro golfer Jake Shepherd, the ball was soon caught by Coulthard, traveling at a paltry 193km/h, 275 meters from the original spot.
Let your imagination complete the scene.
It took a full 4.91 seconds for Nepal's Thaneswar Guragai to pass through a tennis racket...three times. In February of this year, the fearless competitor smashed contortionist Skye Broberg's previous mark of three in 12 seconds.
Guragai seems to have some experience, as he also broke the record for most basketball bounces in one minute with 444 (seen here). He is indeed a worldly legend.
In August of 2004, a pot-bellied dreamer by the name of Kotetsu defied the physically impossible. The determined pig set a new world record for highest jump by a pig with a height of 27.5 inches at the Mokumoku Tedsukuri Farm in Japan.
For his next stunt, rumor has it he'll turn from champion to bacon.
(Fast forward to 2:10)
Former English cricketer Freddie Flintoff, who now dabbles in professional boxing, broke 15 Guinness World Records in aid of Sport Relief—a truly honorable and intriguing deed.
He achieved the farthest distance to score a bull's-eye, and more majestically, he popped the most balloons in 30 seconds..."with his bum." An asinine, yet glorious test.
Flintoff slammed it.
A record once featuring 357 skydivers over Takhli, Thailand, set in February 2004, was officially torn to shreds only two years later, by the same team.
After dropping from five C-130 Hercules planes, 400 people from 31 countries simultaneously held hands in a midair free-fall for, reportedly, more than four seconds. Teamwork, once again, made the dream work.
As you hurl your morning mocha due to shock and nausea, 16-year-old cheerleader Miranda Ferguson is basking in the ambiance of greatness.
A junior cheerleader at the Hockaday School in Texas, Ferguson amazed the crowd with 35 consecutive handsprings. Having completed 20 last year, Ferguson—this time in front of two Guinness Book of World Record officials—looked to become the leader.
Only slightly stranger than Sally Orange's 4:32:28 finish in the London Marathon—the fastest for a runner dressed as a fruit—was Orange's fitting fruit choice: an orange (a charismatic one at that). Her run also raised money for Help for Heroes, supporting those wounded in the line of duty.
If only her surname was Squash.
Not all dogs are friendly, but they're almost all willing to try anything once. Kelpie dog Abbie Uy was just another in a line of fearless canines.
At the Surf City Surf Dog competition in Huntington Beach, California, last year, the furry Australian set the world record for the longest surf by a dog, with a cruise lasting nearly 200 feet. This surfing visionary is unknowingly pioneering the way for her kind.
Having served as the Memphis Tigers batboy since 1958, Stan Bronson Jr. is recognized by Guinness as the Most Durable Batboy in history.
From a sideline-stricken 29-year-old to an immortal 84-year-old, Bronson remains the poster boy of Memphis's baseball program. His jersey was honorably retired in 2010 and permanently painted on the right field wall of FedExPark.
Earth, wind and fire is the approach French sportsman Eric Barone takes when descending treacherous territories. The talented cyclist broke the record for snow speed (138 mph) in chilly Les Arcs and the record for gravel speed (107 mph) at the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua.
Considering he's scraped the slopes of Mount Fuji in Japan and active stratovolcanos in Sicily, it's clear Barone and his need for speed are only getting started.
Inspired by West African patas monkeys, who run on four legs, Japan’s Kenichi Ito, a self-proclaimed primate aficionado, completed the fastest four-legged 100-meter run at 18.58 seconds.
While the quickest man on four legs may be a human legend, it's unclear how primates in monkeydom are responding. Either they're offering a warm round of applause or simply going bananas.
Follow me for the next crop of record-breaking rebels. Follow @z_pumerantz