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Shortcuts: How to get in the record books

By CNN's Barry Neild
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(CNN) -- How to break records, without breaking into a sweat.

Pick something simple: Face facts, unless you're athletically gifted and spent your formative years being bullied by a maniac with a stopwatch, you'll never have an entire stadium wildly cheering you across the finish line. Thankfully, the annual register of human endeavor, folly and excess that is the Guinness World Records book has a database of more than 40,000 achievements, so even sofa-loving Web surfers stand a chance of gaining glory. The easiest records to go for are the ones that come naturally -- tallest, shortest, hairiest, and suchlike. Sadly, these rely heavily on chance, or the physically impossible ability to choose your own parents.

Buy yourself a record: There's no suggestion that Guinness staff will be swayed by the sight of cash-stuffed envelopes, but a bulging bank account will certainly help you on your way. After bagging a fortune on the financial markets, American businessman Steve Fossett has whiled away many of the past few years spending it at high altitude on record attempts that few others can afford to. To date, Fossett has broken at least 115, including the completion of the first non-stop round the world airplane flight -- a trip most people would pay to avoid.

Invent a record: If all else fails, think up a new category in which you can claim to be the world's best. Before you get carried away, however, remember that Guinness will only consider reasonable suggestions, so if you think you deserve entry for making the nicest cup of tea or being the best boss ever, think again. (Besides, the best boss already works for -- and I claim my pay rise.) Ideas that are too specific to one person are also out, as are records that are too easy, so don't expect glory for breaking your own personal best at running up the stairs.

Keep it safe: There are some records that have never been set because they're just too dangerous. But be warned that even if you intentionally jump out of a hot air balloon at 10,000 meters without a parachute and miraculously survive, the chances are Guinness will reject you as it strongly discourages such foolish behavior. And without an entry in the book, no one else will believe you've been that stupid.

Make sure you have witnesses: Get independent confirmation. As with the hot air balloon stunt, if you don't meet the criteria for verifying your record, then it could all have been in vain. Obviously, if you're simply claiming to own the largest pair of trousers, then getting this checked at a later date is no problem. If you've spent your entire life savings on making the world's tallest ice cream, you've only got until the sun comes out, or the kids come home.

Fancy a challenge? If simply breaking a record isn't enough, then you could try breaking the record for the most records broken, a claim that currently belongs to Ashrita Furman. Furman has set 119 records, including bouncing to the top of Japan's Mount Fuji on a pogo stick and underwater rope skipping -- but not on the same day.




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