As a rookie reporter, I groaned whenever I heard/read about Suresh Joachim (pronounced Joe-Kim) attempting a stunt for the Guinness World Records (GWR).
The unstoppable thrill-seeker successfully pulled off every imaginable dare. As a result, I ended up writing at least one story every other week on the Mississauga man. For a while, my colleagues joked I had made it as a beat reporter after being on the job for less than six months.
That was some years ago.
Now at 43, Joachim has shattered 68 world records in the last 15 years. Alas, he does not hold the world record for most records. That honour belongs to Queens, N.Y. native Ashrita Furman, 56.
Joachim, an accountant by profession, however remains unperturbed because as he points out, Furman has been at it for 40 years, whereas he himself has only started.
So far, the Sri Lankan-Canadian, holds records for among other things: the most distance moon walked in 24 hours (49.252 km), ironing continuously (55 hours, five minutes), most time spent watching television (69 hours and 48 minutes), longest dance marathon, longest drumming marathon and his very first record —running 3,495 kms every hour for 42 days.
Some of his records are quirky, others require endurance and training, but in the end, he manages to accomplish both with characteristic modesty and same single-mindedness.
“I have experienced a lot of pain in my life and that’s what drives me,” said Canada’s # 1 record holder. “I get the power and strength to do the things I do because of my faith in God. I feel this is my purpose and this is what I was born to do. I am only taking the steps he (God) wants me to take.”
Celestial intervention or not, there’s one record he vows he will never repeat again.
“I balanced on one foot 76 hours and 40 minutes,” he said. “It was very painful. If someone offered me $10 million to do it, I still won’t do it.”
Growing up in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, during a tumultuous time in the country’s history, the father of two, watched and experienced the ethnic strife between the Tamils and the Sinhalese communities escalate to the point when violence was part of people’s daily lives. Peace was something elusive and precious.
The staid bookkeeper said he decided to become a serial thrill-seeker on his 21st birthday after an uncle gifted him the shiny silver Guinness World Records book. Joachim recalls experiencing a sense of awe when he cradled the mammoth book. Excited and wide-eyed, he devoured the contents greedily. It was as if the book was a gateway to a world of possibilities. And thus began his sojourn.
Joachim plans to embark on his most ambitious project yet. Slated to begin on Christmas Day in Bethlehem in 2017, the World Peace Marathon will wrap-up in Toronto a year or two later. As part of the project, Joachim will carry the peace torch and run across 76 countries and 120 cities to raise $1 billion. Along the way, he will also get some 500 million people to sign a petition for one day to be declared World Cease Fire Day, he says.
Like me, I bet you are wondering where does he find the money to do all this? The answer is simple. Joachim finances his all endeavours through sponsorships.
Which record did he have most fun? He says all were equally thrilling, but his record for the fastest feature-length film ever made (11 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes) remains close to his heart. The movie Sivappu Mazhai (Red Rain) was shot in India in 2009.