The strangest sports records (veggie marathon?)

This world is full of oddities: Donald Trump’s combover, Justin Bieber’s enduring fame, the fact that “deodorant tester” is an actual profession.

The world of sport has its own set of oddballs: those who strive to set a record and see their names in “Guinness World Records” (formerly known as “The Guinness Book of World Records”).

Take Ernestine Shepherd as an example. The 74 year-old Baltimore grandmother is the world’s oldest competitive bodybuilder. That’s right: She’s ripped and could kick your butt. She says she started lifting weights at age 56 because she felt a little pudgy. But she also has a soft side: She teaches a seniors exercise class at her Baltimore church.

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In Pictures: The strangest sports records

Or how about Tony Mangan, an Irish ultra-runner. In 2003 Mangan ran 251.79 miles in 48 hours on a treadmill. Imagine waiting for your turn on the machine behind that guy?! His next adventure: getting off the treadmill, so to speak, and attempting to run around the world. To paraphrase the comedian Steven Wright; everything is within running distance if you have the time.

The Guinness Book of World Records actually owes its founding to a sports-related debate. Sir Hugh Beaver, a managing director at the Guinness brewery and spirits giant Diageo, was out bird-hunting with some friends when an argument erupted: Which bird was faster, the golden plover or the grouse? Beaver believed that these types of arguments – which weren’t immediately resolvable – were taking place in pubs all over the world. So in 1954 he published a compendium of facts and records.

Today Google may be the go-to resource for quick answers, but “Guinness World Records” is still the gold standard. The book supposedly holds a record of its own: “the book most stolen at U.S. public libraries.” Only fitting.

The compendium has changed a bit over the years. It’s no longer owned by Guinness – Jim Pattison Group, a Canadian company that also owns “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” now has the rights. And for safety and legal reasons, all booze-related records have been taken out – like Steve Petrosino’s amazing feat of guzzling 550 ml of beer in 1.3 seconds.

Still, the sports records endure. Marathons have been a font of bizarre records. Sally Orange owns the record for fastest marathon run in a fruit costume (an orange, of course), when she completed the London marathon in 4 hours, 32 minutes and 28 seconds. Not to be outdone, Robert Prothero, a.k.a. “Bob the Carrot,” finished the London marathon in 3 hours, 34 minutes and 55 seconds while wearing a carrot suit, flying by the guy in the rutabaga outift, and becoming the record holder for the fastest marathon run in a vegetable costume.

Team sports have their share of records, too. The record for highest score in a hockey game belongs to the 2008 Slovakian women’s team, which beat Bulgaria 82-0 in a pre-Olympic qualifier. The Slovakians had 130 shots on goal and averaged a goal every 44 seconds. Mean girls.

The list:

Basketball neck catches in one minute: Slideshow
Largest rock, paper, scissors tournament: Slideshow
Most consecutive NFL games played: Slideshow
Greatest distance in 48 hours on a treadmill: Slideshow
Fastest marathon in fruit costume: Slideshow
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In Pictures: The strangest sports records

Updated Friday, Aug 27, 2010