By Robert Norman, new Men’s 24 hour Guinness World Record holder: 180 kilometers!
All of the success I have achieved through completing this challenge, has been made entirely possible by my family and friends. Without their support in every possible way throughout the process of visualizing, planning, preparing and executing this event I would have been lost. This was not an individual accomplishment, but a group effort and everyone that has supported the event should be proud of themselves too. WE broke the world record.
For months now the plan was to capture the 8,000 meter per hour. I had trained with the absolute intentions of realizing that speed for that duration of time. Unfortunately I, as an individual, fell very short of that goal and averaged a mere 7,450 meters per hour. The first 12 hours I was nearly on pace for 8,000, and my mental fortitude was holding strong. The issue came from a personal failure in my food and hydration during the night section. I was constantly battling hunger and losing energy. The problem was I was growing fatigued of my primary nutritional food which was Cliff Bars. With no alternative food source available I couldn’t bring myself to actually chew and swallow my only food anymore and I was starting to starve myself. I tried to drink more of my hydration for additional calories which wasn’t enough to sustain me. My emergency plan immediately turned to increasing my caffeine dosages to stay awake and block out my body running out of energy.
That being said, the time I spent preparing for this situation paid off. If I had not over prepared for this event, I may have failed and stopped paddling. The first 12 hours set me up just enough to run on pain killers, caffeine, and pure grit to finish the last 12 hours and claim the record. I couldn’t let all of these people cheering for me down, even if it meant pushing myself to the absolute limit. I couldn’t let anyone down out there, not for any reason.
The only other unforeseen issue was hitting an unidentified object (rock, turtle, drain pipe, Russian submarine!?) in the water that caused me to fall face first into the board. Knocked my GPS unit loose, banged up my legs and a little bloody, and the fear that I had poked a hole into my board and the event would be over. I rushed back to my support team yelling “I need to take a break!!!” We checked the board and luckily there was no hole, and we remounted the speedcoach. But that delay was close to 10 minutes, and was my only stop of the event. If not for that, I wouldn’t have stopped during the full event.
The full lap course is certified and approved by Guiness before the event started. Meaning they recognize one full lap as a preset distance based on a surveyor report I sent in. In that surveyor report it only acknowledges one FULL lap. I finished with 14 minutes to spare, which was not enough time for another full lap. Meaning, it would have complicated validation with Guiness to add a partial lap to the overall final number. We had locked up the record, and I left it at that. With the 14 minutes to spare, the 10 minute emergency board check, just a little better preparation with varying my food, and picking up my speed in the last 4 hours instead of cruising to a finish would have definitely made one more lap possible at my current skill level.
Going forward from here, this event is definitely chalked up as a success. As a competitive self-critical individual, there is more to be desired from this event, I could have done at least one more lap (184.7km) or two more with a better night phase (189.4km.) I want someone out there to look at my record, scoff at it, and then break it. At that point I would respond accordingly and leave nothing to be desired in the next attempt. But, on the same note, if no one breaks the record, I will not do it again just to beat myself.
I want to give a special thank you to the shop that sponsors me CGT Kayaks. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. The network of racers through them that came out and helped me was really the difference the day of the event. I owe them so much for making sacrifices on my behalf.
Thank you all again for everything.