French 'Human Torch' runs record-breaking distance while on fire

By Sanj Atwal
split image of Jonathan fire running

French firefighter Jonathan Vero, 39, has set the world alight by achieving the longest distance full body burn run without oxygen.

Wearing a protective suit, Jonathan ran 272.25 metres (893 ft) while engulfed in flames, breaking the previous record of 204.23 metres (670 ft).

In doing so, Jonathan also broke the record for the fastest full body burn 100 m sprint without oxygen, clocking in at 17 seconds, beating the previous record by 7.58 seconds.

Both records were previously held by Antony Britton (UK).

Although you might not think that there are many people who would willingly set themselves on fire to break a world record, you’d be surprised. The longest distance full body burn run without oxygen record is highly competitive and has changed hands seven times since 2009.

Jonathan ran over three times further than Keith Malcolm (UK) did when he originally set this record 14 years ago.

In addition to being a firefighter, Jonathan is also a professional stuntman. He says he’s “always had a passion for fire,” and he’s “never stopped playing with it” ever since he was a child.

aerial shot of Jonathan fire running

Jonathan divides his time between putting out fires and putting on fire shows, during which he does things like fire juggling, fire eating, and the “human torch” (setting his whole body ablaze).

He attempted these records because he enjoys “pushing the limits,” and he wanted to “push open the doors of the famous Guinness World Records.” He also wanted to prove to himself that he can “always go further” as a fire artist.

Jonathan spent three months preparing for his record-breaking run, training his “endurance, explosiveness, and breathing.”

Jonathan Vero running on fire

The official attempt took place in his hometown of Haubourdin, France, as he wanted to do it in “the city that saw me grow up,” on the same athletics track which he trained on during his youth.

He said afterwards: “This performance has a lot of meaning for me, for my job as a firefighter and for the people who trained me and watched me grow.”

Achieving these Guinness World Records titles was a childhood dream for Jonathan, who says he “strived every day” to make it a reality.

However, Jonathan has no intention of stopping here. “I've still got a lot to try and a lot of records to go for,” he said.

“Here, I'm considered a ‘paradox’, even a ‘cheater of death’, and I think that in the months to come, these descriptors will take on their full meaning.” - Jonathan Vero

Jonathan Vero running ablaze

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