Nov. 21, 2007 -- As a young boy flipping through the pages of the Guinness World Records, Ashrita Furman never imagined that one day he would be featured alongside his childhood idols.
"I remember reading it under covers," he said, "my mom coming in and telling me to stop reading that silly book."
Furman says achieving a Guinness World Record was just a dream. "There was no possibility as far as I saw it. Because the records that really impressed me were physical records, and I knew there was no way I could do it," he said. "I had that ideal of attaining a record, but I knew it was impossible."
But today, Furman has the honor of holding more Guinness World Records than anyone else in the world. He currently holds 69 records, but over the course of the past 25 years, he has broken close to 200 records. In fact, breaking Guinness World Records has become the focus and drive of Furman's life. He says the experience has been "the greatest adventure I could ever have imagined."
So how did the young boy obsessed with Guinness World Records become a man known around the world for all his wacky records?
It all started during Furman's teenage years when he began studying with the famed meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, who taught him that he could surpass his own physical limitations.
After biking 405 miles and coming in third in a 24-hour bike race in New York's Central Park with no training, Furman realized he could accomplish anything he set his mind to.
"I went out there, and I just started riding," he said. "And as soon as something would happen, like my legs would start getting tired, I would use the different techniques I had learned. I started doing chanting, breathing exercises, vizualization exercises."
"I remember stumbling off the bicycle, lying down on my back, looking up saying, 'Okay, if I can do this, then I could break a Guinness record. I can fulfill my childhood dream.'"
'Breaking a Barrier'
And he did just that. Furman set his sights on a record that hadn't been broken for nearly a century.
"It was for running on stilts," said Furman. "And so I said, 'Okay, that would be a great record to break. It's more than a hundred years old.' And I started doing it, and it took me literally years to find the right stilts, find the right technique. But finally I was in China. And I was ready to do it. And I went out, and it was really fantastic, because I knew, here I was, you know, breaking a barrier."
From pojo-stick jumping to underwater juggling, Furman has broken just about any and every ridiculous record out there. "I love it when they seem silly, 'cause people laugh and they get joy, and yet, you know, it's tough."
One of his favorite records was the fastest sack-race mile, which he did while at the same time racing against a yak in Mongolia. Furman thought it would be hard to beat the yak, but at one point the yak got so tired, they had to give it a rest and bring in a new fresh yak, "I burnt that yak out!"
Some of Furman's other crazy records include:
Balancing 81 twenty-ounce glasses on his chin for 10 seconds.
Balancing a pool cue on his finger continuously for 7 miles and 220 feet.
Somersaulting the longest continuous distance -- over 12 miles which took 10 and a half hours (stopping only to vomit!)
Playing 434 games of Hopscotch in 24 hours.
Fastest peeling and eating of a lemon: 10.97 seconds.
'Always Thinking About the Records'
What's next for this record holder? The orange-nose push.
"You have to do it for a mile," he explained. "And the fastest time [wins]. You've got to jump up, run after the orange, get down on your hands and knees again, smack the orange."
In real life, Furman is far from a superhero. He's 53-years-old, never married, and works at a health food store in Queens, N.Y., where he is still very involved in his meditation community. But his Guinness World Records are his constant companion.
"I think they know me too well," he admitted, and said, "I'm always thinking about the records. I mean, there's always a possibility somewhere."
And even though he knows others think he's crazy, Furman maintains that breaking Guinness World Records is incredibly rewarding for him. "By some crazy quirk of fate, this is the way I'm fulfilling my dreams and hopefully changing the world in my own very, very tiny way. That's why I'm never going to stop doing this. You know, this is my life."