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On the 21st of March 2021 I broke the Guinness World Record for 'Greatest distance traveled on a spacehopper in 24 hours'. I jumped 32,8km. This is the report:
After climbing the Col du Tourmalet on a spacehopper in June 2020, people asked me if I had broken the Guinness World Record. I had no idea, so out of curiosity I looked it up. Apparently the GWR for longest distance on a spacehopper in 24 hours was "only" 16 km. I had jumped 18,6 km... UPHILL. I thought to myself: "Should be easy to break it."
So I applied on the website of Guinness World Records, and by their reply I could see it would be "not so easy to break it". For 2 reasons:
1. The official record attempt comes with a whole bunch of rules and reglementations. You need 2 independent witnessess all the time which can't be there for longer than 4 hours (meaning I needed 12 volunteers for the entire day), it had to be done on an athletic tracks, I needed official documents proving the track is 400m and flat, the whole record had to be filmed and MANY, MANY papers had to be filled in by the volunteers and myself.
2. There was a severe limit on the rest I was allowed to take. I had to jump for an entire hour in order to deserve 5 minutes of rest. During my climb of the Tourmalet, I had paused every couple of minutes to stretch my legs and on several occasions I had taken up a big rest of > 10 min.
So, after receiving GWR's rules, I decided I wanted to do the record attempt in the city I grew up: Ypres in Belgium. I was backed immediately by the local athletics team which helped me with the logistics, and the city of Ypres made me rent the track for free. I also decided to collect money for the VZW cliniclowns. And I started training way more on the spacehopper than I'd done before the Tourmalet, my longest training was one of 10h!
All was set up, except for... the camera. I had 'delegated' the task of searching and installing a camera that 'd have the entire track on screen to my parents. But I must not have been clear enough in my communication that the camera was SUPER important, because one week before the attempt my parents still didn't had a clue about how we'd film the attempt.
I then called a professional security cam film on the other site of the country who sent me a camera with a extremely wide angle. The camera arrived on Friday less than 36 hours before the start of my attempt. On Saturday, my dad and I went to the track to install the camera but gosh it looked like there was no way we could have the entire track on screen. We moved the camera to 100 different spots, tried to rotate the lense in different positions and then it finally worked! we'd found a correct angle to film the entire attempt.
I went back home around 4pm with the intention to start jumping at midnight. But the whole camera-affaire had me extremely pumped so there was no way my body could fell asleep. I started panicking because I wanted at least a couple of hours of sleep before starting... but then I comforted myself with meditation and breathwork. No matter what happened, sleep or no sleep, record or no record, marathon distance or not - as long as I'd give everything I possibly could it would be fine.
I arrived at the track half an hour before the start and shortly after my amazing first 2 volunteers arrived, just as my dad. I started hopping exactly at midnight, in the dark, in peace.
Quite honestly, breaking the record turned out to be easy. After about 6 hours I'd broken the previous record of 16km and I still felt quite fresh. I kept on jumping on the same rhytm while the night was turning into the day. After my 9th hour, I had a leak in my spacehopper. One of the volunteers came with a spare spacehopper, but although I had fully pumped that one right before starting my attempt, it had lost a lot of air. This way, I had to put in much more physical effort and slowed down a lot in order to complete the hour.
During the following 5min rest, my volunteers applied the right pressure to the spacehopper. Nevertheless, the previous effort had really tired me so I went through a very difficult moment where I started thinking about giving up for the first time. I had to go in a really dark place and completely shut off all the stimuli from outside, just focusing my gaze a couple of meters in front of me.
I did get over that dip for one hour, but not much later the going got though again. I started to get really tired. I must have done ca. 30km when I realized that I wouldn't be able to cover marathon distance. But I was close to doubling the previous record, so I made that my new goal.
When I reached that goal - 32 km -, there was still a ienieminie bit of energy left in my body and - maybe more accurate - my mind. I was able to squeeze out 2 more laps and then finished after 11h47min.
I was so proud of myself, because I felt as if I'd given everything I had in me that day, proud that despite the stress and the difficult night before I'd been able to double the previous GWR. And I was also extremely grateful for all the volunteers that had turned up to help me during the day!
There was only one problem....
The most difficult part of the record turned out to be afterwards. Two of the volunteers had made a small mistake filling out the paperwork, so I had to visit all of them again to adjust everything. Also we had a electric courant disruption which had shut off the camera during the last 2 hours of the attempt. Luckily, I had asked the volunteers to film me as a backup. That footage wasn't perfect though, so I was afraid GWR would not recognize the record. On top of this, while analyzing the footage, I saw that during each lap I dissapeared behind the pole vault storage container. So each lap I wasn't on screen for ca. 15m.... Reasons enough for the GWR referees to cause me trouble!
Luckily, after >4 months of sending in my application, I got great news in my inbox. The new record holder of 'the longest distance travelled on a spacehopper in 24h' is Glenn Valentin with a distance of 32,8 km !!!