When the news first came out about the Chuck Norris 5K (a charitable fun run where everyone where everyone was invited to come dressed up as the legendary tough guy), the reaction was mostly divided between a slack-jawed stare and a bewildered head-shake. Another theme event, right?
Right..but that’s not all. This event, the inaugural CForce Chuck Norris 5K, to take place on May 4, 2019, in College Station, Texas, is offering Chuck Norris fans the experience of a lifetime, and attempting to break a world record in the process. The race organizers are hoping to set the record for the most people dressed as Chuck Norris at one time.
The lure: Chuck himself will be there to high-five each finisher (although the organizers say they’re not responsible for any injuries that may occur as the result of high-fives). No wonder the event has already sold out. And that bodes well for the world record being set as well.
But setting a world record (or even attempting to do so) has become a fun and interesting way of attracting extra attention (and extra attendance) to a sports event. Consider the following:
- The AAU Junior National Volleyball Championship in Orlando has the Guinness World Record title as the biggest recorded volleyball tournament, playing on 166 courts in the Orange County Convention Center
- The FIFA Interactive World Cup has been recognized by Guinness as the biggest global gaming tournament
- In 2014, Olympian Gabrielle Douglas took to the streets of Pittsburgh and led an enormous group of gymnasts (professional, amateur and just plain wannabes) in an attempt to break the world records for the greatest number of individuals doing cartwheels simultaneously. This was held in conjunction with the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships, scheduled for Aug. 21-24 at CONSOL Energy Center, and in celebration of Olympic Day
- Each year, the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson hosts a one-day learn-to-swim event (this year, it will be held on June 20) in locations worldwide, to promote water safety, and each year, it’s the highest-attended one-day swim lesson anywhere. Fun facts: TEAM WLSL™ holds the current Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson conducted at multiple venues. The official record was set in 2014 with 36,564 participants in 22 countries?. Additionally, in 2013, Sun-N-Fun in Naples, Florida, set a Guinness World Record for the largest swimming lesson conducted at a single venue with 1,308 participants
- The Harlem Globetrotters hold a number of world records for various trick shots, including five broken in a single day
There are even destinations that hold their own records:
- Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, holds the official record as the loudest football stadium in the world – yes, really
- Virginia Beach, Virginia, has the longest pleasure beach in the world
- Yuma, Arizona, is recognized by Guinness as the sunniest place on earth
The Guinness Book of World Records, as it used to be known (and was, until 2000, when it was renamed the Guinness World Records) has been a fascination ever since its first publication in 1955. As a result, there are thousands of records (and new ones being added on a continuing basis). Guinness is not the only organization that certifies world records but it is by far the most well known.
Because people can’t resist being a part of a world record (or at least an attempt) – and because the media can’t resist covering that sort of action – event owners who create tie-ins with events can increase their appeal (and the attention paid to their event) enormously. All it takes is imagination, creativity and an understanding of the resources available. The cartwheel attempt, for example, was held at an event attended by gymnasts and similar enthusiasts – and organizers took the extra step of looking up the previous record (482 people), which meant they knew what they needed in order to set a new record.
That’s not to say it’s easy, though. According to Guinness, the organization receives over 1,000 applications (internationally) per week and it has strict guidelines regarding the type of records it recognizes (and doesn’t recognize) and the documentation needed. (Review of records can be expedited by paying a fee, although this doesn’t guarantee inclusion). Helpful hint: the Guinness site has a special page containing tips on engaging the public with live marketing techniques. For those interested in adding a World Record component to a sports events, Guinness P.R. coordinator Rachel Gluck provided examples "of how we have incorporated record-breaking into larger events that I think will give you a better understanding of how we work with different companies and brands:
- UCHEALTH + Denver Broncos - Largest gathering of people wearing false mustaches
- UC Irvine - Largest game of capture the flag
- Reebok - multiple sport/fitness records"
Tying in record attempts with sports has become a fun – and accepted part of sports events. In some cases, the spectator component is just as much fun as being part of a crowd attempt. For example, in 2016, Visit Phoenix hosted its Golf Fest with a special attraction: the opportunity to see a world record attempt for hitting the most 300-yard drives in a single hour. Sometimes, its even philanthropic: in 2017, the Virgin Money London Marathon hit an all-time world record high in terms of money raised for charity – and in 2018, it set another world record after 386,050 people applied for a place via the public ballot – the biggest number of applications for any marathon in the world.
Then of course, there’s just the downright bizarre sports records too, like the world record for fastest marathon run while dressed as a nun. Or a clown. Or even a telephone booth. Dressing as Chuck Norris fits right in.