Fame comes and goes, but the record for most balloons inflated nasally in three minutes (28) can last a long time. Having your name in the Guinness World Records, a product that organically grew out of weird bar bets, is not only an honor, it is also a more achievable goal that rising to power or starting a game at Madison Square Garden. The key, according to Mike Janela, one of the U.S. judges who adjudicate record attempts, is to have a plan.
"We get 1,000 applications a week," Janela says. "That's everyone from a kid saying he has the coolest dog to someone going for a speed record." He adds that only 2 percent of world record inquiries end up earning the official Guinness certificate of approval. Being the best in the world at something is apparently harder than it looks.
We asked Janela for his help understanding the process of making a record-setting attempt and sending proof to the judges. He gave us a quick guide to getting our name in the book.
Apply for Your Rules
Fame doesn't come easy: One reason the success rate is so low on record attempts is that people don't know the rules first. This isn't merely a process of achieving highly specific excellence, you're going to have to demonstrate that your feat was performed within certain prescribed boundaries. "That's a sticking point for us," says Janela. "People need to come to us so they can get the set of rules first." To apply, go online and submit your information, asking for specific guidelines for your hypothetical record.
Typically it will take between eight and 12 weeks before you hear back, but the process can be expedited. "What does help is someone attempting a record that was already tried, because the rules already exist," says Janela. An international governing body also helps. When Usain Bolt became the world's fastest man, he did so at a competition with consistent and concrete rules.
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