Saturday, January 3, 2009

Going rogue

After much consideration, I've decided that my 24-hour world record attempt will be "unofficial." I'm putting "unofficial" in quotation marks because, when it comes to this sort of record, what constitutes an "official" record gets a bit fuzzy. The major speedskating organizations such as USA Roller Sports (USARS) and the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) don't recognize a 24-hour record of any kind. So, if you're going to organize an official attempt, you are probably trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records or you want to impress the small number of people on the planet who care about the 24-hour inline skating time trial world record (24hISTTWR).

Breaking the 24hISTTWR is not like breaking the world record for running 400 meters or for swimming the 100-meter butterfly, where all you have to do is show up at a sanctioned event and kick ass while event officials handle the details. In order to set an official 24hISTTWR, it would not be enough to train for the event and kick ass -- exhausting and time-consuming all by itself. I would also have to organize the entire event.

Among other details, this means I would have to secure a venue, which would mean renting an arena (such as the Pepsi Center or the Metrodome) or reserving a public park or a circuit of city streets (this is difficult; because no drafting is allowed, nobody except me could be on the course during the attempt). I would have to hire a licensed surveyor to measure the course. I would have to assemble a team of neutral observers. I would have to rent an electronic chip timing system. And I would have to submit a USADA-level drug test.

All of this costs a great deal of time and money -- one guy who has organized previous attempts advised me that I could expect to spend thousands of dollars on an official attempt. I read an account by another guy who said that the logistics of organizing his
24hISTTWR were "overwhelming" and cost "several thousand dollars." This seems like too high a price to pay for a two-line entry in the cinderblock-sized Guinness Book of World Records (and they might not publish my record anyway) or to get a quasi-official stamp of approval from people I've never met who frequent skating message boards.

Twenty-four hour skating is a niche event within an obscure sport. Breaking the
24hISTTWR will not catapult me to fame or fortune, even if I do it officially -- I could skate 400 miles in an event adjudicated by Jesus Christ and the Dalai Lama and not get anything beyond a mention in the sports section of the local rag. That's okay, because I'm not doing this to get my picture on the Wheaties box. I'm doing it for the satisfaction of knowing that I'm the strongest 24-hour skater in the world. I'm doing it because I expect it will be a profound spiritual experience and the greatest creative achievement of my life.

So: some weekend this summer -- September 5-6 is the current target date -- I will attempt to break the
24hISTTWR at Denver's Washington Park. I will measure the course myself. My friends will keep track of my time and distance. There will be other people on the course, but I will not draft off them. I will not cut the course. I will not submit a drug test, because I don't use banned performance enhancers. I know myself, and I know that I will run an accurate and honest world record attempt. My friends, who know me and trust me, also know this. These are the people whose opinions I care about. I realize that if I break the record, some people will deny my accomplishment. That's fine. I'm not doing it for them.


  1. I like your use of the word adjudicated. You are a bad-ass muthafucka.

  2. Makes sense. Organizing the event is a very high bar.

    I'm anxious to see what you can do with thin dry air, my TT-gifted friend.