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Wednesday, July 22, 1998 Published at 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK


Entertainment

Rollercoaster record hits new heights

Richard Rodriguez is on top of the world now that he has broken the record

They thought he was mad, but that did not stop him. And now he is having the last laugh.


The BBC's Paul O'Gorman speaks to Richard Rodriguez on the Big Dipper
Richard Rodriguez has just set the world record for the most time spent on a roller coaster: a grand total of more than 700 hours.

He beat his own 549-hour record 10 days ago but had to stay on the Big Dipper at Blackpool Beach after a similar challenge began in Canada.


[ image: The Canadian challenger bowed out]
The Canadian challenger bowed out
However, news arrived on Wednesday that Mr Rodriguez's competitor, Normand St Pierre, who was on the Le Monstre ride in Parc des Iles in Montreal, had given up.

Mr Rodriguez is set to end his stomach-churning feat on Thursday afternoon. All funds raised through the record attempt will be donated to diabetes research.

As if once was not enough

The 39-year-old teacher from Miami had already set the world record for continuous rollercoaster riding in 1994, but his determination was to reign supreme.


[ image: Mr Rodriguez at the start of his journey]
Mr Rodriguez at the start of his journey
He embarked on the ride on 18 June and come Thursday, he will have spent at least 22 hours of every single day since riding the Big Dipper.

This is because in accordance with the strict rules laid down by the Guiness Book of Records, Mr Rodriguez had to eat, drink and sleep on the rollercoaster.

A mere five minutes every hour was allowed for him to rest, take a shower and have one hot meal.

And of course, there is nothing like a good night's sleep when you are trying to break a world record. At bedtime, Mr Rodriguez, who is a diabetic himself, would pad himself in with foam rubber, pull canvas over his head and wear some earplugs.

The ride of his life

Safety and maintenance checks on the Big Dipper were carried out during Mr Rodriguez's breaks.


[ image: Rigorous safety checks were carried out on the Big Dipper]
Rigorous safety checks were carried out on the Big Dipper
The star attraction at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach has a track length of 3,295 feet and each circuit on the ride lasts three and a half minutes.

The amusement park was happy for Mr Rodriguez to stay on as long as he needed or wanted to, and now that he has broken the record, they are as thrilled as he is.

A spokesman said: "We are absolutely ecstatic. We didn't doubt he could do it because he was so completely determined."



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15 Jul 98 | UK
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