Want to know who the oldest person is to ever climb Mount Everest? Or which golfer has bagged the most holes in one? How about the dog that’s surfed the farthest? If you’re itching to find out, read on, because we’ve dug out some of the most incredible, impressive, and downright bizarre achievements that you’re ever likely to come across…
1. Deepest free dive
First, let's get one thing straight: when we're talking about free diving, we don’t mean going to the depths of the ocean in a submarine. Nor are we talking about diving with a scuba kit. We mean holding your breath and swimming downwards with nothing more than fins to propel you. In August 2022 Frenchman Arnaud Jerald swam down to an astonishing depth of nearly 394 feet — and back — without mechanical aids in three minutes and 34 seconds. Wow!
2. Heaviest plane dragged by a person
“Why is there a record for dragging a plane?” you might well ask. But since many of the records on our list raise a similar question, we’ll go with, "Why not?" It was a Canadian called Kevin Fast who got his 15 minutes of fame by taking this record. In 2009 he hauled a 416,299-pound CC-177 Globemaster III plane just short of 29 feet, which still stands as the world record.
3. Oldest person to climb Mount Everest
Nowadays, climbing Mount Everest seems to be little more than everyday tourism. Between the first recorded ascent of the world’s highest peak in 1953 and the end of 2021, more than 6,000 scaled the summit, so it’s hardly the rare feat it once was. But we’ll still tip our hat to Japan’s Yuichiro Miura, who reached the summit in 2013 at the age of 80 years and 223 days, the oldest mountaineer ever to do so. Kudos!
4. Heaviest weight lifted by a human tongue
It’s a versatile thing, the human tongue. Eating, talking, and French-kissing are just some of the various tasks this muscular organ can handle. To be honest, though, not that many people think of their tongues as a body part suitable for heavy lifting. But try telling that to Britain’s Thomas Blackthorne: he secured his place in the record books in February 2022 by raising a weight of nearly 29 pounds using only his tongue. Yikes!
5. Highest free-fall jump
It was 2014 when a 57-year-old Google engineer called Alan Eustace jumped from a plane flying at an altitude of 135,890 feet, a record height for a skydive that’s unbroken to this day. We’re glad to say that Eustace was wearing a full spacesuit when he accomplished this hair-raising stunt. At times he was hurtling back to earth at a speed in excess of 820mph. At 10,000 feet, Eustace countered the deadly power of gravity by opening his parachute.
6. Highest wave surfed
Up until October 2022 the highest wave anyone had ever surfed was 80 feet, a record established by Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa in 2017. But Sebastian Steudtner managed to get his board on the crest of a wave that measured 86 feet, nabbing the crown for himself. The German was surfing off the Atlantic coast of Portugal when he climbed that towering wave.
7. Longest ferret-legging time
A peculiar British pastime, ferret-legging involves keeping a ferret, or even ferrets, down your pant legs for as long as possible. What are the rules, you ask? Underwear is forbidden, and the bottoms of the pant legs must be tied with string so that there’s no escaping for the critters. The record-holder is the late and legendary Reg Mellor of Barnsley in the north of England. In 1981 he managed to keep a pair of ferrets captive in his trousers for no less than five hours and 26 minutes, despite the discontented animals periodically biting him. Apparently, it's a dying sport... We can't imagine why!
8. Fastest mile carrying a 40 lb. pack
Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj holds the track record for the mile for the time he ran at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in 1999: just over 3m 43s. But he wasn’t carrying a 40-pound pack at the time. But Lee Riley of Britain was when he ran a mile in just under 5m 17s in 2011. So which was the greater achievement? You decide.
9. Longest time breath held voluntarily
How long can you hold your breath? Don’t bust a gut trying to do it! One thing we’re fairly sure of is that you won’t come anywhere near matching the length of time a Croatian man called Budimir Šobat went without breathing. His record-breaking feat came in the city of Sisak in Croatia in 2021. Šobat inhaled zero air for a staggering 24 minutes and 37 seconds. Šobat says he does it by totally disconnecting; sometimes, he even becomes so relaxed that he falls asleep.
10. Longest kitesurfing journey
As the crow flies, the distance from Portugal’s capital Lisbon to the Portuguese island of Madeira is about 595 miles. In 2015 Francisco Lufinha set off from Lisbon heading across the Atlantic towards Madeira. He didn’t make it the whole way, but the distance he traveled, 536 miles, stands as the longest non-stop kitesurfing flight ever made. Portuguese national Lufinha also holds the record for fastest solo crossing of the Atlantic by kiteboat.
11. The most holes in one
Even if golf leaves you cold, you’ll know that when a player gets a hole in one it’s an impressive feat. Plenty of folks will play golf for a lifetime without ever getting their ball into the hole with a single stroke, which makes Californian Norman Manley’s record all the more impressive. Over 15 years, Manley notched up no fewer than 59 holes in one, a record yet to be beaten.
12. Longest distance walked with a soccer ball balanced on the head
We thought we’d try this trick of balancing a football on our heads. To be honest, it immediately fell to the floor, leaving Indian national Manoj Mishra’s record entirely unthreatened. He achieved his astonishing feat of traveling just a bit over 30 miles with a ball on his head in the Indian state of West Bengal in 2016. The journey took more than 11 hours.
13. Oldest wingwalker
You might think wingwalking — going up into the sky perched on a plane’s wing — would be a pursuit best suited to younger folk. You obviously haven’t come across Briton Ivor Button who was all of 95 years old in April 2022 when he tried a spot of wingwalking. Talking to website Wales Online, daredevil Button said, “I’m of sound mind! I was not scared. I was more concerned about getting cold.”
14. Most broken bones in a lifetime
Of course breaking bones is not actually a sport, even an extreme one. The record-holder for sustaining the most fractures is Evel Knievel, and he got his injuries pursuing one of the most extreme sports imaginable, motorbike long-jumping. Knievel managed to break bones an excruciating 433 times. He was presumably consoled by the millions he earned performing his stunts, but it was surely a painful way to get rich.
15. Most toilet seats destroyed with the head
Have you ever wondered how many toilet seats you could break with your head? No, neither have we. But apparently it was a thought that crossed American Kevin Shelley’s mind back in 2007. That was when he appeared at an event titled “The Greatest World Records” in the German city of Cologne. There he smashed 46 lavatory seats using nothing more than his skull.
16. Most rotations while hanging from power drill
Most of us look at a power drill and remember that we haven’t yet done anything about those shelves we promised to fit. But when The Huy Giang, a German, contemplated a drill back in 2008 he thought of just one thing. A world record. For he holds the record for the most rotations in 60 seconds while hanging from a drill: 148 to be precise.
17. Heaviest vehicle pulled by hair
Indian national Asha Rani holds the women’s world record for the heaviest vehicle pulled with her hair. She managed that in 2014 in the Italian city of Milan when she pulled a double-decker bus for a short distance. The bus weighed in at just short of 26,932 pounds. It’s a striking achievement, especially since the male record for pulling a vehicle with the hair is a measly 22,884 pounds.
18. The world’s strongest human ear
Lasha Pataraia was in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, when he achieved his bizarre world record in 2007. To do it, he took a length of strong rope, attaching one end to his ear. The other end was tied to the front of a 17,050-pound helicopter. Then he hauled the chopper a distance of just over 86 feet. Sticklers for detail will be disappointed to learn that reports don’t mention if Pataraia used his left or right ear.
19. Heaviest seated deadlift
Briton Martin Tye has a backstory and then some. In 2009 he was serving as a soldier in Afghanistan when an insurgent blew himself up and left Tye paralyzed from the knees down. But the indefatigable Tye decided that meant his sport would be weights, specifically the seated deadlift. He took the record in that discipline by lifting just over 1,113 pounds.
20. Most NFL career receptions
As the ESPN website points out, “[Jerry] Rice is arguably the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game” — quite the accolade. During his storied two-decade career Rice played for Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Oakland Raiders. Among his many achievements on the field is one that may well never be beaten — he successfully caught no fewer than 1,549 passes.
21. Longest unaided swim under ice
This world record has to come with a health warning, because swimming under ice is one of the most dangerous things you can do in the water. If you lose your ice hole — well, we need hardly elaborate. But the very real peril didn’t deter Amber Fillary. She swam just over 295 feet under ice, and that was without the aid of a diving suit or fins.
22. Farthest golf shot into a moving car
Yes, unlikely though it may seem, driving a golf ball with the aim of getting it to land in a moving car instead of on the green is actually a thing. Golfer Marcus Armitage and racing driver Paul O’Neill formed an unholy alliance in pursuit of this weird variation on the game of golf. And they nabbed the record in 2021, when Armitage hit his ball 909 feet into O’Neill’s BMW convertible as he drove it at 71mph. The ball landed neatly in the passenger seat.
23. Most points in an NBA game by an individual
Back in 1962 Wilt Chamberlain was playing for Philadelphia Warriors in a match against the New York Nicks. The Warriors took the game by 169 points to 147: nothing particularly astonishing about that. But what certainly is remarkable is that Chamberlain single-handedly scored a staggering 100 of the Warriors’ total tally — a record that still stands today. The next highest total in an NBA game is a mere 81, bagged by Kobe Bryant in 2006.
24. Fastest tennis serve
Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus was the unfortunate player at the wrong end of the fastest tennis serve ever recorded. The ball was delivered to him by Australian Samuel Groth during a match in the South Korean city of Busan in 2012. The speed? A little over 163 mph. And yes, it was an ace. Still, it did Groth little good: Ignatik went on to win the match in two sets.
25. Longest washing machine throw
Like most people — including us — you probably think that just about all a washing machine is good for is cleaning clothes. But Darius Slowik, normally a discus thrower, had other ideas. He wanted to grab the world record for throwing a washing machine further than anyone else. He achieved his goal by hurling a 105-pound washing machine more than 11 feet.
26. Most push-ups in an hour
They do say “third time lucky” and that was certainly true of Australian Daniel Scali. For it was only on his third attempt at breaking the world record for the number of press-ups in an hour that he finally succeeded. His breakthrough came in April 2022 in the Australian city of Adelaide when he performed an astonishing 3,182 push-ups in the set time.
27. Fastest 100-meter slackline walk
Slacklining, like tightrope walking except the line is set loose instead of taut, has really taken off in recent years. Frenchman Lucas Milliard is much more than a casual slackliner. He proved that when he took the world-record time for a 100-meter — 328 feet — slackline walk in 2016. He aced it in a tad under 2 minutes, crossing between bridge piers in China at a height of 230 feet.
28. Highest jump from an aircraft into water.
It’s fair to say that John Bream, a British former paratrooper, has truly earned his nickname “The Flying Fish.” That’s because he holds the record for jumping into water from a helicopter unencumbered by a parachute. He made his 131-foot leap off the coast of England in 2020. Bream reached a speed of 80mph and was briefly knocked out cold when he hit the water. But we’re happy to report that he survived the stunt.
29. Heaviest weight lifted with teeth
Most of us prefer to preserve our dental equipment for meal times or for toothy grins. But Belgian Walter Arfeuille obviously had a different attitude towards his teeth back in 1990. He thought that a great use for his pearly whites would be weightlifting. So in Paris he showed what he could do by lifting 620lb 10oz with his gnashers. He only lifted the weight about 7 inches, but that was enough to take the world record.
30. Longest distance surfed by a dog
Yes, dogs can take world records as well. With a little help from her owner Michael Uy, an Australian kelpie called Abbie Girl proved that at the third annual Surf City Surf Dog extravaganza. Fitted with a GPS device to ensure measurement accuracy, Abbie Girl caught some good waves and surfed for about 196 feet: no mean feat for a dog and a world record to boot.
31. Farthest distance spitting a watermelon seed
Jason Schayot was at the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival in Texas when he secured his world record by spitting a watermelon seed an impressive 75 feet 2 inches. But he’s not the only one to hold a watermelon-related record. German Tafzi Ahmed’s smashed most melons with his head in 60 seconds: 43. And Ukrainian Olga Liashchuk pulverized three melons between her thighs in 14.65 seconds.
32. Longest distance pushing a lawnmower in 24 hours
If we’re honest, we get bored after pushing a lawn mower for about five minutes. But that’s apparently not true of Jody Fassinger of Christchurch in the English county of Dorset. He pushed his lawnmower around a local park for an incredible 24 hours. In doing so, he took the record for the longest distance pushing a mower in that time: 57.6 miles.
33. Longest flight in a wingsuit
Flying in a wingsuit at all looks like a pretty startling achievement to us. But ex-Navy Seal Andy Stump obviously has the right stuff, plus he knows what he’s about. Or at least we think he does. When he achieved his record in 2005 it was the very first time he’d ever donned a wingsuit. Even so, starting from an altitude of 36,500 feet, he managed to travel a distance of a bit over 18 miles.
34. Youngest person to swim the English Channel
Captain Matthew Webb was the first to swim the 21 miles from the English coast to France in 1875. People have been repeating his feat ever since. But there’s one swimmer who gained particular recognition for his effort. He was Tom Gregory, who completed his marathon swim in 1988 in 11h 54m just four weeks short of his 12th birthday.
35. Longest windsurfing journey
Great fun, windsurfing — if you can stay upright. One man who evidently can is British national Jono Dunnett. Starting from northern Norway, he windsurfed along Europe’s Atlantic coast and on through the Mediterranean, completing his journey on the Black-Sea shores of Georgia. His epic journey, which lasted from May 2017 to May 2019, covered a total distance of 8,981 miles.
36. Highest bungee jump
If you’ve ever tried bungee jumping, you’ll be familiar with its trademark blend of terror and exhilaration. But everyday bungee jumping wasn’t enough for Briton Curtis Rivers: he needed to add something extra to the thrill. So he launched himself from a hot-air balloon at an altitude of 15,220 feet above Puertollano in Spain. After five bounces he set himself free and parachuted back to earth.
37. Most baseball shutouts
The Bleacher Report website tells us that “[Walter] Johnson was truly a power pitcher, fanning more than 3,500 batters during his 21-year career with the Washington Senators.” What’s more, Johnson also achieved an astonishing 110 shutouts during his playing days, an unbeaten record. Johnson also had the distinction of being top of the Major League for strikeouts no fewer than 12 times — another record.
38. Longest solo glider flight
Going up in a glider, basically a plane with no engine, takes a special kind of courage. Taking it on a long-distance flight is another step up. But that’s just what German Klaus Ohlmann did in 2010. Flying above El Cafate in Argentina, Ohlmann covered a distance of 1,402 miles. At the same location Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock achieved a different record in a two-man glider. They flew to a height of 52,172 feet, the highest ever recorded.
39. Oldest BASE jumper
Base jumping has to be one of the most hair-raising of all the extreme sports. The basic principle seems to be jumping off a height that’s not really high enough for parachuting, but still using a parachute. Even so Donald Cripps, an American, decided to get in on the action. And that was despite the fact that he was 84 years old when he jumped off the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia.
40. Longest solo raft journey
This extreme record is a little different from the others we’ve chronicled: they were all undertaken by people who actually wanted to do the activities involved. But British Merchant Navy mariner Poon Lim didn’t act voluntarily. The unfortunate sailor’s ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic in 1942. Subsequently he survived for 133 days entirely alone on a raft before he was finally rescued.