Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. Dr. Vikas Saini recently put on 10 socks in an official time of 9.23.

Both have the same title: world record holder.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins the Men’s 100m Final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)


From sock feats to fancy footwork using rolls of toilet paper, records are still being set even with many sports on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Guinness World Records receives about 1,000 applications each month from would-be record breakers throughout North America. The company has long been known as the keeper of accomplishments ranging from the fascinating (longest fingernails) to the far-out ( most body piercings ) and of course the “give-it-a-whirl” possibilities (walking on hands, anyone?).

But their recent online challenges have been soaring in popularity with many sheltering at home. Wind up as the top leapfrogger, pyramid can-stacker or one-handed, crisscross LEGO builder and, if adjudicated, earn the label: “Guinness World Records title holder.”



379848 03: Robert Estrada and others maneuver a tortilla into place October 8, 2000 as they make an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest three-layered enchilada in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The enchilada measured about 10 feet in diameter and weighed more than 800 pounds. It took about three hours to make. They used 750 lbs of stone ground corn for the three tortillas, 175 gallons of vegetable oil, 75 gallons of red chile sauce, 175 pounds of grated cheese and 50 lbs of chopped onion. It needs to be reviewed by Guinness World Record before it can get registered as the worlds largest. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)


“We’re inside, but we still want to be able to inspire creativity, lift people’s spirits and just continue to provide an outlet for people to learn about and explore world records,” records manager Chrissy Fernandez said.

The online challenges are designed to be performed with minimal equipment and in a way to adhere to stay-at-home mandates. There are also kid-friendly contests.

As for the book, who didn’t scroll through the pages growing up in search of records to possibly attempt? The Guinness database contains more than 50,000 unique marks. A sampling:



People dressed as Smurfs (‘Schtroumpfs’ in French), a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small, blue, human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest, attend a world record gathering of Smurfs on March 7, 2020, in Landerneau, western France. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP) (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)


— The fastest hole of golf by an individual is listed at 1 minute, 29.62 seconds.

— The quickest time to run the 100-meter hurdles while wearing swim fins is 14.82 seconds for a male and 18.523 for a female.

— The most basketball bounces in one minute: 656 (using two basketballs).

The notion of collecting intriguing records was put in motion by Sir Hugh Beaver in the 1950s  when he was managing director of Guinness Brewery. As the story goes: He was attending a shooting party in Ireland when he and his companions began to squabble over Europe’s fastest game bird. There was no quick way to solve the dispute.


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan Gamini Wasantha Kumara, 39, lifts a 50-kilo bag of sugar with his teeth 10 August 1999 in an attempt to enter the Guinness book of World Records by lifting 50 bags, each weighing 50 kilos, at a railway warehouse in the capital Colombo. He earlier pulled a 200-tonne train with his teeth and hopes to enter the record books with his new feat. AFP PHOTO Sena VIDANAGAMA (AFP PHOTO) (Photo credit should read SENA VIDANAGAMA/AFP via Getty Images)



He asked twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, who were fact-finding researchers, to compile a record book featuring topics that would help solve bar debates.

The first volume was published in 1955 and by 1964 a million copies had been sold. Later, a TV series was added.

Guinness also features a Hall of Fame. Among the inductees was Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man who was measured at 8 feet, 11.1 inches (2.72 meters) in 1940. Another Hall of Famer is Lee Redmond, whose fingernails famously measured more than 28 feet (8.65 meters).

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In a typical year, Guinness receives about 47,000 record inquiries from 178 countries. Of those, around 8,000 are approved.



The young farmer Aleksandar Tanic shows the hottest pepper in Serbia on December 3, 2019 that he produces in the southern Serbian town of Niska Banja. – December snow flurries in Serbia haven’t stopped Aleksandar Tanic from cultivating his red-hot crop: the crinkly chili peppers that are considered the spiciest on the planet. At the base of a mountain in southern Serbia, Tanic plucks a handful of red, yellow and orange peppers from rows of leafy vines inside a greenhouse whose roof is blanketed in a layer of snow. Among them is the chubby and gnarled Carolina Reaper, considered to be the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness World Records. (Photo by Vladimir Zivojinovic / AFP) (Photo by VLADIMIR ZIVOJINOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)


David Rush of Boise, Idaho, recently became the record holder through the online challenge in the category of “fastest to put on 10 T-Shirts.” His winning time was 15.61 seconds. He practiced so much he bruised his wrist from knocking it against his head.

Rush is no stranger to world records. He already holds many marks, including most juggling catches on a unicycle while blindfolded (30), longest duration balancing a bicycle on his chin (6 minutes, 1.07 seconds) and most baseball bat spins in a minute (94).

“I loved watching the specials on TV and thumbing through the book occasionally,” said Rush, who’s a senior product manager at a technology company. “I was fascinated by it and would be like, ‘Hey, I wish I could do that.'”

Jed Hockin is renowned for his soccer skills and trick-shot artistry. Last month, he set a record by juggling a roll of toilet paper with his foot as part of an online challenge. This was his fourth Guinness record.



NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 21: GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® Adjudicator Philip Robertson inspects boxes before Xiaomi breaks the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title with 703 participants for Most People Unboxing Simultaneously at Oculus Plaza WTC on December 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images for Xiaomi)


Next on his radar: Most soccer (football) touches in an hour. The mark stands at 11,901.

“I am looking to break heaps more Guinness World Records,” Hockin wrote in an email from Toowoomba, Australia.

Then there’s Saini, who proved lightning quick while putting on 10 different socks as he sat on the floor in his home in India. His strategy: Have fun with it.

“Amazing in the sense that it was not thought even in the dreams that on one fine morning I will be having such a prestigious title for exercising (a) tiny effort,” Saini wrote in an email.

His burst of speed with socks made him appreciate the quickness of Bolt all the more. The iconic sprinter from Jamaica lowered his 100 time to 9.58 at the 2009 world championships.

“We can’t imagine the all-out effort made by him,” Saini wrote.



A baker or chef prepares an approximatively 6.5-km long cake to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cake, in Thrissur in south Indian state of Kerala on January 15, 2020. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)


Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Guinness officials have noticed more record attempts from homes and gardens. They’ve received applications for records ranging from “most sticky notes stuck on the body in 30 seconds” to “tallest cotton plant” to “most jumping jacks in one minute.”

Fernandez is among the Guinness records managers tasked with authenticating world marks.

Last fall, she attended record attempts by the Harlem Globetrotters. The legendary exhibition basketball squad set six marks that day, including farthest behind-the-back shot and most bounced basketball figure-eight maneuvers blindfolded in one minute.

These days, records are corroborated online.

“We’re just adapting (record breaking) to this time,” Fernandez explained. “We want to keep people engaged and having fun because being inside can be a little boring.”

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