Breaking a Guinness World Record

In 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party and became involved in an argument about which was the fastest game bird in Europe—the golden plover or the grouse? This argument led to his idea for a book that would answer this sort of question.

Bound on Aug. 27, 1955, the first edition of The Guinness Book of Records was at the top of the British bestseller lists by Christmas that year.

And its popularity has not diminished. Everyone is familiar with Guinness World Records—categories such as smallest submarine, longest fingernails, most cockroaches eaten and longest lawnmower ride have impressed and fascinated (and, sometimes, disgusted) people for years.

But how does an individual become recognized by Guinness World Records? What process does an individual need to follow to reach fame for his or her achievements?

Guinness World Records Ltd., London, receives about 65,000 record-related inquiries each year from people who want to set or break records. Interested individuals are asked to fill out a free online application at the Guinness World Records Web site, The records management team takes about four to six weeks to research and consider the proposal, which may take longer if experts need to be consulted.

The record breaker will then either receive a rejection with specific details regarding the decision or an acceptance. If accepted, record breakers receive guidelines and the record breakers pack. With this information, the record breaker can then make his or her attempt and send in the evidence. After that, it takes about six to eight weeks for a decision to be made.

If a record breaker wants to try something that hasn't been done before, the suggestion is passed to the research department, which decides whether the submittal is worthy to be established as a new record category. Record suggestions sometimes are rejected because they are too dangerous to be accepted; not enough of a challenge; too specific to an individual; or unbreakable. All records need to be provable, quantifiable and breakable.

If they succeed, record breakers receive a certificate for their achievements. Money is not offered for breaking a record, expenses or equipment. The company believes international recognition is enough.

Various high-profile records are broken regularly, including the disc jockey marathon and the oldest person in the world. Ashrita Furman holds the most Guinness World Records, breaking records for long-distance pogo-stick jumping, most glasses balanced on the chin, most hopscotch games in 24 hours and fastest time to pogo-stick up the CN Tower in Toronto, among others.

So if you find yourself doing something that fits the criteria for a Guinness World Record, apply and see what happens. You never know.

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to The world's first solar bar.