It’s always impressive when something record breaking happens. The hottest day on record. The most expensive hamburger ever made. Even a personal record can be remarkable, whether that’s running your fastest mile ever or beating your taco eating record. And while these onetime achievements are very interesting, there’s something to be said for a sustained, long-term achievement that can happen over a very long period making it that much more impressive.
10. Ricardo Abad Ran Marathons 607 Days in a Row
Many people consider running a marathon to be a great achievement in life. Some people train for months to run the biggest marathons in the world and not everyone is able to complete them as they can be extremely physically demanding. And not to diminish anyone’s achievements or hard work when it comes to running marathons but no one in the world runs marathons like Ricardo Abad runs marathons. In fact, Abad holds a record for essentially marathoning marathons. He ran 607 consecutive marathons in 607 straight days.
Initially Abad, a runner and factory worker from Spain, had the idea to do 500 marathons. After he reached that goal he intended to do another 500 for a full 1,000 but even Superman has his limits. After 607, Abad had to call it quits with a record that was still far above his closest competitors.
9. St. Petersburg Florida had Sunshine 768 Days in a Row
Natural records can happen any time and in any place. Often there’s no way to tell it’s happening until it’s already happened. That was likely the case when the city of St. Petersburg in Florida managed to pull off the unexpected weather feat of having pleasant, sunny days for over two straight years.
St. Petersburg calls itself the Sunshine City, a title well-earned on February 9, 1967. That was the first day the sun rose over the city after some cloud cover the previous day. Then the same thing happened on February 10th. Same on March 10th. July 10th. And even February 10, 1968. It wouldn’t be until Tuesday, March 18, 1969 that the people of St. Petersburg would have to bid the sun goodbye and endure a little cloud cover like the rest of us.
8. Marble Bar, Australia Had a 160+ Day Heat Wave
As sunny as things get in Florida, the temperature there is not necessarily record breaking. And for sustained, oppressing, absolutely horrid temperature records then you need to go to the other side of the world and visit a place called Marble Bar, Australia.
Heat waves are nothing new and, unfortunately, they’re becoming more and more commonplace these days. In the United States, the average heat wave lasts for four days. These can be incredibly serious as well since people who are unable to manage the temperatures with things like air conditioning or adequate shelter and water can suffer ill effects potentially even dying.
In Marble Bar, it’s not unusual for temperatures to reach over 120F or 49C for about 8 months per year. But it was their 1923 heat wave that makes it such a noteworthy place. Every day for 160 to 170 days (there are contradictory figures), the temperature was around 100F or hotter.
7. In 1862, a Storm in California Lasted Over 40 Days
You may recall that the Bible made mention of a quite significant flood that lasted for 40 days and 40 nights somewhere in the Book of Genesis. Any storm that lasts for more than a month would surely seem cataclysmic to people back in that day and age and, if we’re being honest, it’d probably be worse today because people can share doomsday theories on social media. Somewhere in the middle is what the people of 1862.
Beginning in December 1861, the rains that drowned out hundreds of miles of land in California lasted for 43 straight days. The Central Valley, home to cities like Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield was under 15 feet of water. One third of the property in the state was destroyed. One in 8 homes was swept away. Over 200,000 cattle died. When the new government of California was inaugurated on January 10th, he had to row to the governor’s mansion and enter through a second story window. It’s estimated around 4,000 residents died as well.
6. Dale Webster Went Surfing 14,642 Days in a Row
The difference between a hobby and a job tends to be that no one pays you for hobbies so you do them for the joy you get out of it. And, with that in mind, what hobby do you have that you’d be willing to stick with for 14,642 days in a row without a break?
Dale Webster, sometimes known as Everyday Dale, liked to surf. And so he went surfing every day for about 40 years. He started his surfing marathon in September, 1975. Every day, he’d catch at least three waves, usually in a place called Bodega Bay. No matter the weather, he was out there.
Webster called his 40 year streak quits on October 4, 2015. That was because he had kidney surgery on October 5th and was put on bedrest for a few weeks.
5. Lakeview Gusher Spewed Oil From a Geyser for 544 Days
Have you ever seen a video of an oil well going off? It happens in movies sometimes, and you may see clips on the news of these oil geysers spouting into the air. But when we see them they’re in little clips and often it seems like the next logical step is that someone caps it somehow and stops the oil from spewing out. But that’s not always the case.
The Lakeview Gusher, an oil geyser that blew its top in California in 1910, raged for 544 days without anyone stopping it. It formed an entire lake of oil and produced 18,000 barrels per day for a total of 9 million before it stopped.
Drillers were looking for oil about 100 miles north of LA at the time. When the geyser went off, it shot oil 200 feet into the air. The volume and power seemed to be more than people could handle and rather than controlling it they tried to deal with it. Sandbag walls and pipes to redirect the oil were established even as it formed a crater around the initial geyser, destroying the undersized derrick and other equipment.
Eventually the well collapsed on its own somewhere deep in the earth, sucking everything back to the depths as quickly as it had appeared.
4. An Alpine Swift Can Stay in Flight for 200 Days Straight
We’re always impressed when we see a human who can run fast or lift a huge amount of weight. And it’s likely a bit of human arrogance that makes us focus so much on incredible things humans can do as opposed to what other creatures in the world can do. That’s a shame because there are some animals out there that leave humans in the dust in every conceivable way. Take, for instance, the humble alpine swift.
These small birds can be found in parts of Europe and Asia and, for the most part, seem unremarkable. To see what makes a swift a real standout, you have to have a lot of time on your hands. An alpine swift is able to stay in the air for 200 days in a row without ever touching ground once.
Researchers were able to determine that the swift has such remarkable flight stamina after putting a tracker on one. The tiny birds, which weigh under half a pound, summer in Europe then migrate to Africa for the winter. The point of tracking was mostly just to see how the birds handled their migration. Where they go, how long they spend there, how long they stop, and so on.
What the team discovered when the birds returned to Europe and the tags were collected was that, when the birds aren’t breeding, they aren’t landing. Because the sensors collect data on acceleration, the angle of the bird relative to the ground, and the angle that light is hitting the bird to determine sunrise and sunset, they were able to determine the birds never actually went to ground. They can sustain flight or a glide for 200 days.
The birds eat flying insects, so that aspect of how they manage their marathon was easy enough to understand. But how they slept was another matter. Clearly, the birds are able to sustain flight while sleeping or, as some speculate, they may not really need to sleep at all.
3. A Man Went to Disneyland 2,995 Days in a Row
Have you ever heard the term “Disney adults?” It’s a name given to adults who are such fans of all things Disney that they devote an intense amount of time and money to supporting their fandom. That can include buying what seems like an inordinate amount of Disney merchandise and, in particular, visiting Disney theme parks frequently. Some people will go so far as to make almost weekly trips to Disneyland and Disney World. And, to be clear, these are adults. They may have children that come with them but typically, to meet the definition, they do not.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who meets the status of a true Disney fan and a Disney adult more than Jeff Reitz. Because of the covid restrictions in 2020 that saw Disneyland closing its doors to visitors, Reitz had to end his unbroken streak of regular park visits. Prior to the closing he had been to Disneyland every single day for 2,995 days.
Reitz started going to the park in 2011 and would often head there right after work. He’d spend an average of three to five hours walking around then head home. When the park finally closed, cutting his streak off, he actually had difficulty adjusting to life without it. According to Reitz, he started falling into a depression and found it difficult to even get out of bed some days.
2. Donna Griffiths Sneezed for 976 Days in a Row
In terms of physical achievements there are probably many that any of us would be happy to reach. Being the best at something; the strongest or the fastest or the smartest could hardly be seen as a bad thing. But there are plenty of personal, physical achievements that are less desirable and then some that are just weird and unpleasant.
Donna Griffiths holds the dubious honor of having spent more time sneezing than anyone else in the world. She started sneezing on January 13, 1981 and stopped sneezing September 16, 1983. That’s 976 days of sustained sneezes. It was estimated she belted out one million sneezes in her first year alone.
1. Valeri Polyakov Spent 437 Days in Space
Most missions to the International Space Station see astronauts spending about six months in space. That’s a decent length of time to not be on an actual planet anymore. Astronaut Mark Vande took that to extremes when he spent 341 days in space. That gave him the record for the longest spaceflight by an American astronaut and it’s very impressive. Just imagine nearly a whole year in a place where you can’t go out to get food or water or medical care, or even visit a friend. You can’t even go out for some air. Your life is sustained by what you have with you and what can very rarely be brought to you. Definitely not for the claustrophobic or the easily rattled. And despite Vande’s amazing achievement, it’s not the record by any means.
Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov has the current record for longest time a human has spent in space. From 1994 to 1995, Polyakov spent 437 days aboard the Mir space station. He only completed two missions in his life but in that time he could have almost made it to Mars and back.
Polyakov volunteered for his extended stay in space to be something of a guinea pig. The plan was to assess the effect of prolonged space flight on the human body and mind. After he returned, Russian officials determined that he had suffered no permanent or even long lasting effects from his experience apart from a decline in mood that lasted a few months before returning to normal.