took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Furthest pea blow: 3 metres 38.5cm
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Furthest pea blow.
We have to face the facts: what normal person
would purposefully hold an event to blow a green pea across the floor
of a public train station? Correct – not one. So the individual to do
this must be insane, right? Well, call me what you will, I did it. And
if you like the idea, you might also like to know how I went about this
It all began when I received confirmation of a
world record event. Given my susceptibility to record-breaking, there
was no way I could refuse. If you really have to know, I admit that I
sat up most of the night making elaborate plans and sketching out a
spider's web-like diagram of exactly how I would progress toward what I
desired: to hold one more world record certificate in my own hands. The
diagram looked complex, but no matter how demanding or stressful this
was to be, I was prepared to risk my life for it.
Step one was to arrange to follow the rules. Next
I had to complete the paperwork, and gather my team. I had a few brief
meetings to see to, and numerous contracts to sign with those providing
services. The following steps included collecting materials I needed,
checking the meaning of various rules and arranging a suitable venue.
Hard work! Perhaps due to my fascination with world record-breaking, I
was prepared to endure all this and more simply in the hope that I
would feel rewarded for blowing a common garden pea.
One by one, I was able to cross tasks off my
list. That was great motivation, since it meant the big day was
approaching. How exciting! One unexpected challenge I faced was finding
– wait for it: the pea! Yes, I was stunned. It seemed that New Zealand
didn't have a single fresh garden pea for sale. I asked the growers,
then the distributors and agricultural supplies companies, and even a
university my question, “Where can I find a single fresh green pea?”
Needless to say, my calls weren't responded to with the greatest of
friendliness every time. But, having the tenacity I possess, I cast
those unfriendly folks out of my mind and continued in my search for
the perfect pea.
Eventually – and that means after a lot of
effort, I found what I needed: suitable peas. I was so delighted I
could have kissed them. But I didn't. Instead, I calmly continued to
prepare for the big pea blow. With my witnesses, I entered a large
train station and we all marched up to the allocated floor area. I felt
a sense of calm coming over me, but knew I had to keep myself in check.
To be feeling calm and relaxed right then wasn't what I needed; it was
better to be mentally alert. My focus sharpened and the world record
breaker 'auto-pilot' in me took over. Peas in the bag I was clutching
in my fist were about to be blown away, literally.
Having positioned the witnesses and completed
some admin, I marked the line from which to blow. Out of the corners of
my eyes, I could see train passengers wandering by, many stopping
briefly, probably hoping for an entertaining sight. But that was
something I couldn't care less about. I was there for business. My
attention was trained on my fingers and the mass of garden peas I was
staring down at. Which one? Oh, that was a difficult choice.
From discussing this world record attempt with
others in the know, I had learned that friction between each
unfortunate hand-selected pea and the floor might offset its trajectory
if the moisture adhering to the pea's surface was higher than a
specific amount. But that was far too technical for me to worry about.
All I knew was I'd better blow until I was seeing stars. I picked a pea
and held it up to the light. No, not good enough. It was knobbly. So
that I wouldn't select it again by mistake, I got rid of it by eating
it. I repeated this process for almost five minutes until I was
confident I'd found the most beautifully matured pea in the packet. It
was round, with smooth skin and had very little water visibly adhering
to it. My heart began beating ever so slightly faster, as if in
celebratory delight over the little fellow I'd plucked. When I glanced
around, sure enough, I was being watched: a man eating one pea at a
time out of a packet, in a busy train station, after inspecting each
with care. Bizarre!
“I'll prove that I am to be
respected for my
abilities with peas”, I told myself while staring back at the puzzled
passers-by. And with that, I let the witnesses know we were due to
begin the action. I sank to my knees and then quickly dropped to the
floor completely. I wasn't sure whether to feel a sense of disgust at
having my nose so close to where the public tread, or whether to feel
pleased with the chance to see what tiny things are sprinkled across
it. There was plenty of fine dust barely millimetres from my nostrils,
no matter which way I thought about it. I had to accept that I'd be in
charge of a dust-clad pea in a few moments too, no doubt.
I heaved and heaved my chest to increase my lung
capacity. I could feel my thoracic muscles and even the cartilaginous
joints flexing under the strain. Knowing my body could cope, I pushed
my ribcage out harder with each inhalation until I began feeling
particularly sprightly. At that point, I was sure there was enough
oxygen in me to blow like a champion. Pursing my lips and staring at
the pea with all the concentration I could produce, I constricted my
upper body hard. A constant stream of warm carbon dioxide-rich air came
gushing out, smacking squarely into the rear of the unsuspecting pea
with force. I felt sorry for the little thing; this could be considered
Like an obedient worker taking an instruction,
the pea suddenly raced forward and kept travelling at speed. I gasped
for breath, while half-heartedly paying attention to the moving green
blur. The witnesses followed its short-lived journey across the public
floor but exclaimed with disappointment that I could do better. I
obliged enthusiastically and jumped to my feet so I could fetch the
under-performing item and retry.
More passengers were watching by then and one
Australian lady even offered me a few dollars, thinking that my antics
were good entertainment. I was astonished but accepted the gift
politely. After chatting briefly to this donor and her husband, I
excused myself, saying I had urgent business to attend to. Back down on
my belly it was, in which position I placed the pea with accuracy where
I wanted it. Once again, I began inhaling as deeply as possible and
blew the pea. Frustratingly for me, I just wasn't satisfying myself
with the distance I could blow. But I knew there were only two options:
give up and fail for sure, or try. I chose to keep trying. After what
seemed to me like a maddening fifteen minutes, the witnesses voiced
their approval at the distance the blown pea had come to rest ahead of
me. I sighed. Good. That had definitely been the most powerful blow and
it was then time to measure.
I stepped the others through the required admin
before crunching up the pack of remaining peas and packing it away.
What a relief it was for me to be rid of the impulse to blow peas
randomly across a train station floor. My mind wandered to a more
serious topic. Although I was confident that I had succeeded, I knew
I'd have to await the judges' official decision before I could proclaim
success. So I kept from excitedly telling others what I'd done that
day, but it was definitely on my mind.