Behind the Scenes: Why our so-called ‘silly’ records are still Officially Amazing!

By Vicki Newman
mark mckinley split image

Guinness World Records is all about celebrating that amazing thing you can do or that thing that makes you unique.

But some people out there have suggested from time to time that particular records we have are “silly”.

What they might not realize is that there’s a very poignant reason behind these record titles – and every single one of them for that matter.

As we continue our Behind the Scenes series, we’ve enlisted the help of Mark McKinley, Director of our Records Team and an Official Adjudicator you might recognize from his appearances on UK TV panel show A League of Their Own.

Mark told us: “Everyone wants to be the best at something, everyone wants to be celebrated and be number one, but unfortunately not everyone can run the 100m as fast as Usain Bolt and not everyone can climb Mount Everest, so what do they do?

Mark amongst the gathering of the most people dressed as Ghandi

“They look to themselves and say, ‘well, I’m good at this’, ‘I’m good at eating hot dogs’ or ‘I’m good at stacking dice on top of each other’, it’s finding their skill and it’s about celebrating that.

“A very small percentage of the world’s population are ever going to make it to the Olympics or the World Cup, but absolutely everyone could attempt a Guinness World Records title.

“Guinness World Records embraces the dreams of people.”

We’ve all got a dream, right?

And whether your dream is to achieve the most bars of soap stacked in one minute, or clock in the fastest time to assemble Mr. Potato Head, or scoff the most shrimp eaten in three minutes then why shouldn’t you do that and why shouldn’t you be celebrated for it?

Ben Stiller watches Mark measure

We’ve all got something that makes us unique and special, something that we can do better than anyone else in the world.

Guinness World Records is all about giving people the validation they deserve and shining the spotlight on them to say, ‘hey, you’re Officially Amazing!’

Mark said: “Everybody is good at something; everyone has that one thing they are good at and if we’re able to turn that into a record then all the better because we can celebrate them for that thing.”

Mark is also keen to set the record straight on those records that people think are “easy”.

“The thing is, when people say, ‘that’s silly’ or ‘that’s ridiculous’, they’ve never tried it.

“Some of these things that look on the surface to be the most ridiculous thing in the world take so much planning and nit-picking of detail to get done.

“The example I always give with this is the fastest time to push an orange one mile with the nose, which on paper sounds just madness.

“But the person who holds it, Ashrita Furman, he went out and sourced the type of orange that would travel the best and be the most durable, found the best kind of surface to do it on with the least friction, so there’s so much going into it behind the scenes, but people go, ‘oh it’s just pushing an orange with your nose’.

“So much mental capacity and determination has gone into it to make it happen.”

Mark has seen first hand how people can fall at the first hurdle after confidently declaring they’d “easily” break a record.

Mark presents a certificate to Ed Stafford, the first person to walk the length of the Amazon River

Once on the set of the A League of Their Own Christmas Special, Mark watched stars Freddie Flintoff, Jack Whitehall and Jamie Redknapp fail to eat just one mince pie in the time it took one speed eater to nab the record for fastest time to eat three mince pies.

And he admits that even he has fallen foul of this while road-testing records and failing to get anywhere near the standard set by our talented record holders.

During one training session for Adjudicators, Mark decided to deliberately cheat to test how closely they were watching.

“I couldn’t even get to the point where I could cheat,” Mark confessed.

“I was doing the most golf tees stood on golf balls in 30 seconds record and planned to get a couple in and then use two hands, which is against the rules, to see if anyone picked up on it.

Leah Shutkever holds the record for fastest time to eat three mince pies

“But I couldn’t even do one!”

He added: “I had looked at that and thought it would be simple, but it was anything but, especially when faced with the added pressure of the stopwatch.”

Mark has been with Guinness World Records for 10 years, first being trained as an Adjudicator for a theatre show he was taking part in.

After freelancing for a while, he moved in-house and now manages a large team, meaning he doesn’t spend as much time in his Adjudicator uniform as he used to.

But he has lots of fond memories and has rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s biggest stars along the way too.

The Rock once held the record for the most selfies in three minutes

He’s adjudicated record attempts by the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Taylor Lautner and Cristiano Ronaldo for the most selfies in three minutes (recently broken by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar), but those aren’t the only records that have stuck with Mark.

He confessed: “One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen was the longest ramp jump by a truck and trailer.

“As if it wasn’t exciting enough to see an HGV lorry drive off a ramp, they had a Formula 1 car drive alongside it and then underneath it when it went off the ramp and was in the air.

“I can still hear the sigh of relief when everyone landed safely.”

He added: “Another of my favourite records is the most bridal bouquets caught. The evidence was just fantastic, the record holder submitted all these statements from the brides and grooms, and there were videos of her at the weddings and seeing her barging through people to get the bouquet was just amazing.

Jamie Jackon holds the record for most bridal bouquets caught

“That record makes me so happy.”

It's a common misconception that we previously only monitored 'serious' records. In fact, we've always chronicled all kinds of human endeavour, no matter how unusual. 

Some examples from our first ever edition in 1955 are a record for the longest time to keep a smoking pipe alight, the longest ‘rockathon’ on a rocking chair, jumping barrels on ice, eating the most raw eggs, pole-squatting (sitting on top of a pole), the longest moustache and a man in Spain who consumed 40 pints of wine in 59 minutes.

You can probably tell from the nature of some of these particular skills that we no longer monitor them for health and safety reasons, but as you can see we've always been champions of the things that make people unique!

Mark has even created some records himself, turning his favourite childhood game into a measurable achievement with the fastest time to clear a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

The record can be attempted by an individual, a team of two or a team of four.

Mark was there when Nile Rodgers and Chic unveiled the largest disco ball

And the thought that went into it demonstrates the thinking behind all our records.

Competitors can only use one finger at a time and must keep their free hand either flat on the table or behind their back.

Mark explained: “It wouldn’t be competitive if you just let people slam it and do it really quickly.

“Rules like this also make the record standardisable and ensure that everyone attempting it is doing it under the same conditions – otherwise, it just wouldn’t be fair.”

Of course, as a Guinness World Records employee, Mark isn’t allowed to apply for records himself.

Yoshihiro Watanabe,Miyabi Kugimachi,Ameepy,Kotaro Kawai hold the record for fastest time to clear a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (team of four)

But if he could, he knows exactly which one he’d do.

“I’d go for most films seen in a cinema in one year,” he said.

“I don’t have the dexterity for stacking records, or the stomach to do the eating records, and I’m not fit enough to do any of the exercising ones, but what I am good at is sitting and watching films.”

The current record is as whopping 715, so Mark will need to get seriously organized if he stands any chance at that one!

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