Guiness or Gotcha?

Aug 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Fifty years ago this August, Sir Hugh Beaver, of the Guinness brewing company, commissioned a London fact-finding agency to compile a book of records so British pub-goers could discuss something besides their aching livers. The resulting Guinness Book of World Records, which issues a new edition each October, has since become the world's best-selling copyrighted book, with more than 100 million volumes in print. It's also a trusted arbiter of extremes, deciding who, officially, is the most wack. Here are five of the wildest records ever chronicled by Guinness, plus five impostors. Can you smell the BS? Answer key below.

1. Madeline Albrecht has sniffed more than 5,600 human feet and a large but undetermined number of armpits in the past 15 years.

2. Darren Lott slid 65.24 miles per hour on a wheeled butt board down a residential street in Fountain Hills, Arizona, in 1998.

3. The world's largest spider, Costa Rica's seven-inch-long Canthrus artans, has a prehensile penis running the length of its body.

4. In October 2003, Michael Lloyd, of Midland, Texas, managed to kick himself in the head 42 times in one minute.

5. Yogi Pattabhi Krishnamacharya held himself in the balancing bear position, in which the legs are held aloft in a V, for 61 hours in 1987.

6. Yugoslavian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic survived a 33,330-foot fall without a parachute in 1972.

7. Swedish twins Heide and Freia Andersdotter completed a four-hour-27-minute synchronized-swimming routine on June 11, 1983.

8. In May 1979, a domestic chicken was found wandering at 20,670 feet, near camp 3 on Nepal's Ama Dablam. It remains the highest-altitude live chicken ever recorded.

9. In 2000, Richard Branch, an assistant to jungle explorer Michael Fay, was treated for 32 varieties of parasites—including four new to science—after spending 15 months traversing the Congo.

10. Ilker Yilmaz, of Turkey, squirted milk nine feet two inches out of his eye in 2004.

(1) T—Albrecht worked for Dr. Scholl's. (2) T. (3) F—But that's what he tells the ladies! (4) T. (5) f. (6) T—she was the sole survivor on a dc-9 that exploded over Czechoslovakia. (7) F. (8) F. (9) F. (10) T—thanks to an anomaly in his tear duct. (he snorted the milk first.)

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