Them: “Hey Seth, how would you like to help set a world record?”
Me: “I’m listening.”
Them: “It involves your favorite sport—it’s for the world’s longest Ultimate Frisbee game.”
Me: “Holy smoke, that sounds awesome! How far would I have to travel for this? Across many states?”
Them: “About 30 miles.”
And at that point, I took it as a sign from above that I had to participate in this event. Thus, I signed up to play in the world’s longest Ultimate Frisbee game, along with Lincoln Ultimate’s Scott Frohn, Austin Wehrwein, and Stephen Howard.
The game took place in Utica, Nebraska—about 45 minutes west of Lincoln. People came from all over—Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and more. The event was organized by Jonathan Jank and Chris Whirret. Chris owns the Ultimate Disc Store (www.ultimatediscstore.com) and sponsored the event, and Jonathan works with Seward County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates; www.sewardcountycasa.org). The impetus for the world record event is to raise funds and awareness for CASA; the fact that it took the form of an Ultimate Frisbee event is the result of Jank and Chris being awesome.
These were the guidelines: Two teams of 15 players were to play for 80 consecutive hours. Each participant was responsible for playing 5 shifts of 8 hours each. Instead of playing one looong game, the World Flying Disc Federation (www.wfdf.org), the organization that certifies the record for Guinness, insisted that we play games to 17—over and over and over again. We got a 10-minute break at every half and after each game. Each team also had 2 timeouts per half, each of which lasted 2 minutes.
The 80-hour game was to last from 7am on Friday, May 22nd to 3pm on Monday, May 25th. Scott, Austin, Stephen, and I had the first shift, from 7am to 3pm on Friday.
We were split into white and red teams. We red teamers starting calling ourselves “The Reds”, which quickly evolved into “The Communists”, which became “The Red Scare” by the end of the first shift. (Out in the sun all day, the mind tends to wander.) We dubbed the white team “The Man”.
I could wax long about the mental toughness required to keep going through 8 grueling hours on the field, the inability to get enough sleep, and the many nagging pains and injuries that resulted from such intense activity. But I’ll spare you the details. Just know that it was tough!
We played some competitive disc for about 6 and a half hours of that first shift. After that, let’s just say that the level of gameplay slowed a bit. Ok, a lot. Except that Austin and a couple of the guys on the white team from Arkansas didn’t get tired until the third shift, so they kept going full-tilt. It was kind of incredible to see!
Fortunately, most of the media coverage we got was during that early stretch, so we still had the juice to show off for the cameras. (Those photos from the Lincoln Journal Star are terrific! Check out the links at the bottom of this post.)
One of the interesting challenges of playing for such long stretches is staying hydrated and consuming enough calories to replace the ones you’re burning. You have to eat constantly. Fortunately, volunteers kept us flush with tons of fruit, PB&J sandwiches, water, and Gatorade. Suffice it to say that you had to eat on the field at times to take in enough calories. It was kind of enjoyable to be able to just grab food wherever I saw it and shove it in my mouth. There was always more available, and I was really never full. Amazing.
Keeping your mind occupied was also somewhat of a challenge, but in true Spirit Of The Game, we passed the time by joking around and laughing with the other team. Over the course of our many hours on the field together, we had a T-Rex point, upside-down point, gangsta point, alphabet point, shirt-over-the-face point, Braveheart point, a few 20 questions points, ‘naner point, sandwich point, funny hat point, and possibly a few more I may have forgotten. (See the “Glossary Of Terms” below for clarification.)
Truly, the best part of this event was playing with and getting to know other Ultimate players from around the country. I had a blast with them, and I’m looking forward to playing with and against many of them in the near future!
We made it through exactly 2 and a half shifts—that’s 40 hours total and 20 hours for each person, of you’re keeping track—before the thunderstorms rolled in. At first we were grateful for the shade, then we became ecstatic about the cooling drizzle. Then, it started pouring. Then, it starting raining almost horizontally, the temperature dropped to about 60 degrees, and the shelters covering the timekeepers almost blew away. When the lightning strikes started getting too close, we had to call it. Sadly, there would be no world record for us.
It turned out to be the right call, as when we checked the weather radar, it was apparent that the storms would not be abating any time soon. And indeed, it stormed well into the night. As sad as we were to pull the plug on the world record attempt, I think we were all relieved to be inside, away from that dangerous mess.
All I know for sure is that when I got home that night and dragged myself into my own very soft bed, I slept like a baby and dreamt about Ultimate all night.
We got some fine media coverage of the event, thanks to the Lincoln Journal Star and KOLN/KGIN 10/11. Special thanks to Cory Matteson and Anthony Roberts, our resident newshounds/Ultimate players!
Glossary Of Terms:
For the uninitiated, here are some explanations of the many types of “points” mentioned above.
T-Rex point: Play a point with your elbows tucked to yours side, leaving you with tiny T-Rex-like arms to throw and catch. Dinosaur noises and dino-walking are optional.
Upside-down point: All throws must be upside down. Thus, you’re limited to hammers, scoobers, blades, and my own patented Death Scoober.
Gangsta point: Pants are worn exceptionally low, and creative death threats are issued during the point.
Alphabet point: When you catch the disc, you say a letter of the alphabet. You may only score after all 26 letters are spoken.
Shirt-over-the-face point: Pull your shirt over your face for the duration of the point.
Braveheart point: After you pull, you wait until the enemy/other team works the disc up the field before you attack. Generally, this requires everyone on the line to shout “Hold! Hooold! Hooooooollllldd!” about 20 times.
‘Naner point: You have to eat a banana during the point.
Sandwich point: You have to eat a sandwich during the point.
Funny hat point: All players must wear a funny hat for the duration of the point. Doubles as a valuable source of shade.
20 questions point: One player comes up with a person, place, or thing, and the rest of the players ask yes-or-no questions to discover the answer. You may only ask a question when you catch the disc.