Setting A World Record: A Slackers Guide to Entering the Guinness Book

WHAT: How To Set A World Record

Depending on your chosen field, setting a world record may be much easier than you think. Especially if it’s an offbeat, weird world record. For example, consider Kazuhiro Watanabe, whose 3 feet 8.6 inches bouffant is on record as the world’s “Tallest Mohawk.” Or Linsey Lindberg, a Texan who boasts the most apples crushed between her biceps (eight apples). Or André Ortolf, who set a Guinness world record for the most Jell-O eaten with chopsticks in one minute (716 grams.)

Some other weird world records include:

  • Fastest Mr. Potato Head assembly blindfolded. (14.9 seconds)
  • Most marshmallows eaten in one minute. (25)
  • Most CDs balanced on one finger. (50)
  • Loudest recorded burp. (109.9 decibels)
  • Most tennis balls held in one hand. (27)
  • Most times jumped into a pair of underwear in 30 seconds. (9)
  • Most snails on the face for more than 10 seconds. (25)
  • Most snails on the face for more than 10 seconds. (25)
  • Guinness world for record longest ingrown hair. (16 inches)


Man setting Guinness world donut eating record
Most powdered doughnuts eaten in 3 minutes (9). Record set by Kevin “L.A. Beast” Strahle (USA) in 2017.

Anyone Can Set A World Record

So, there it is. Solid proof you don’t have to be Usain Bolt to set a world record. For mere mortals or anyone with a stubborn desire to be crowned champion of the mundane and ridiculous, there are countless less glamorous records just waiting to be set. Of course, you’ll need to train, focus, and think creatively. You’ll also require time on your hands, a strategy used by Alastair Galpin and Don Purdon, whose record-setting 33 hours and 3 minutes handshake remains unbeaten.

Alastair Galpin and Don Purdon handshaking
Alastair Galpin and Don Purdon, handshaking their way into the Guinness Book.

Weird World Records

So extensive is the list of wacky and weird world records, it would be impossible for the Guinness book to list them all. Of course, if the only person you have to convince is yourself then fine. However, recognition from Guinness and subsequent entry into the best-selling copyrighted book of all time (a record-breaker in its own right) will require you to follow a few guidelines.

Cat setting Guinness world record for most dice stacked on paw
Most dice stacked on a cat’s paw (10). Record set by Bibi and his owner, L.C. Siew of Malaysia.

Every week, Guinness receives thousands of ideas for weird world records vying to gain the official stamp of approval. The majority do not, usually because applicants failed to read and abide by Guinness Guidelines. So how do you avoid disappointment?

How to Set a World Record

1. Choose a world record to attempt

Will you be taking a shot at an existing world record, or trying to create a new one? Pick your subject carefully. Bear in mind that Guinness are publishers. Consequently, ideas most likely to capture their attention are those that capture a reader’s imagination.

2. Basic requirements

To qualify to set a Guinness world record, you must meet certain criteria:

  • Measurable – Quickest / heaviest / longest / most?
  • Breakable – Can the record be broken?
  • Verifiable – Can it be proven?
  • Universal – Is the subject known to most people? For example, growing the largest specimen of a plant that exists only in a single square kilometer of the Congo is too specific.
  • Substantially different from a current record – If an idea is too similar to an existing record, you`ll be asked to try and break the current record.
  • Above all, is it interesting?

3. Apply

Apply by post or by email via their official website. Guinness guarantees all applicants will receive a reply regardless of whether their application is accepted. However, with stacks of proposals to sift through this may take a while. Alternatively, Guinness offers a paid fast-track application service.

4. Practice

Practice. practice, practice until you can´t practice anymore. And then practice much, much more.

5. Gather Evidence

If you manage to convince a Guinness representative to attend and witness your attempt to set a world record, then congratulations. Failing this, you’ll need independent witnesses, (specialists if you can find them). Alternatively, at the very least, you’ll require a photographer and videographer. Many submissions are rejected because of poor or insufficient evidence.

6. Submit

Submit your evidence, cover letter, and all other required documents. After that, simply wait for the reply.


man setting guinness world record for Most toothpicks inserted into beard
Most toothpicks inserted into beard. (3,500). Record set by Joel Strasser.

That depends on the record. For example, trying to beat flight attendant Vesna Vulović`s record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute (33,330 ft or 6.3 miles) is pretty risky. In contrast, posting the most sticky notes to your face in one minute (58) is far safer.


Being crowned world champion at something that would otherwise be ignored is a good enough reason for many. However, bragging rights aren’t the only benefit. Rarely will record-setters receive direct financial gains. However, “setting a world record” listed on your resume is a powerful marketing tool. Likewise, it’s a great way to convince clients and customers of your commitment goals. Particularly if your achievement ends up in print.

The most double-Dutch skips by dog in minute
Most double-Dutch skips by dog in minute (128). Record set by Geronimo and his owner, Samantha Valle. Photo Credit: Paul Michael Hughes.


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