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Ellie – Humans of Avon and Somerset

If you asked me two years ago whether I ever thought I would break a world record, I would have laughed. But now, with the certificate soon to be mounted on the wall and tens of thousands of pounds going to a worthy charity, it is one of my proudest achievements.

Ellie, Comms Officer (News)

I am part of a gym in Weston where I regularly attend spin classes with my instructor, Susan, who is also my personal trainer. Susan and her partner came up with an idea – what if we broke a world record? Specifically, the world record for the longest continuous static spin class. She asked me and a few of my friends, and we initially talked about it as a joke, but we became more serious about the idea when we introduced the thought of making it a fundraiser for a local charity, Western Hospice Care. Charities such as hospice care are very close to my heart, so the idea to try and break this challenging world record and raise money at the same time struck a chord with us, and we set the wheels into motion.  

The world record at the time was 31 hours and four minutes. We agreed to attempt a new record in February 2023, with a date set of November the same year. I remember thinking that date seemed miles off and thought we had lots of time to prepare, not quite realising how much there was to get ready. We had to have more than 12 participants cycle for the entire time, and we eventually recruited 29 people. Our group also had to consider the location, exact timings, supplies and volunteers, not to mention the logistics of filming continuously for over 31 hours. Everyone pulled together to organise the attempt, and we began to fundraise by promoting it personally and in our workplaces.  

The individual preparation was months in the making – it affected lots of different parts of my life. I have quite a significant knee injury, which I was getting physiotherapy for, and I always need to be mindful of when I exercise. We did lots of training, both doing regular six-hour spin classes and gym sessions to build strength, to prepare for the long stretch of the World Record attempt. Every participant had personalised training and food plans. All of this while I was trying to juggle my work and personal life – I’m a netball coach so I was coaching, playing and umpiring, trying not to get injured. It was no mean feat trying to make everything sync together. 

Close up of light brown haired woman in red dress in office

As the attempt date drew closer, we all became more nervous as the scale of the task became clear. Alongside ‘just’ the cycling there were also logistics to consider, such as how we would film the entire affair to submit to Guinness World Records for verifying. The rules dictated we were able to accumulate five-minute breaks every hour of the challenge. We could then either use these every hour, or we bank them and utilise them to create longer breaks. It was decided we would do three-hour sets, using the banked time in a series of different periods, ranging from seven minutes to, at most and only once, just under half an hour.  

The record attempt began at 06:00 on Saturday 11th November 2023. An important aspect to note is we couldn’t just sit on our bikes and cycle continuously, we had to actively participate in the sessions. Anyone who’s done a spin class will know that if you’re told to do climbs, you must stand up from your saddle. If you are told to sprint, you must be seen trying to accelerate. If you’re told to increase the resistance on your bike, you must crank it up. There were many volunteers that helped throughout the attempt, and the support they provided was second to none. The choreographed dances, the words of encouragement and the much-needed hugs helped us through the ordeal. My gym, where we were completing the record, was still open throughout the day so the volunteers were amazing at ensuring we stuck strictly to our breaks. 

There were some highlights that really stand out in my memory. Roughly halfway through the attempt, Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” was blasted through the speakers – you can guess which line we all radiated with! We did Mexican waves every hour to boost morale and pushing each other through when we all inevitably went through rough patches. I’ll admit, I’m not the fittest human being in the world. I’m not going to run a marathon or complete an Iron Man in my life, so this world record is the biggest challenge that I have completed to date. I was described as looking like Casper the friendly ghost at one point because I went so pale. I couldn’t eat, was battling fatigue and I was in a whole world of pain; my knee was horrific. We had two lovely volunteer sports therapists who, in some of the larger breaks, were doing massages and acupuncture to try and help as best they could.  

Despite the exhaustion and soreness, we surpassed the world record, finishing our session at 31 hours, 34 minutes and four seconds. The last song we blasted was the very fitting: “We Are the Champions”. I cried, my instructor cried – there were lots of tears. We shared an out of body experience together, and we lived in this weird bubble for a few days after as well. I took some time off work to recover – I was still walking funny for about a week afterwards. Arguably against better judgement, I was back on the proverbial bike less than a week later. There was a few months wait to confirm the World Record as our attempt had to be verified, and we received the confirmation from Guinness World Records a few weeks ago.  

Most importantly, we raised almost £33,000 for Western Hospice care. Our main goal, more than anything, was to raise awareness about the invaluable service that hospices provide. It was a very sentimental cause to me, as I have unfortunately had a lot of experience with family members with terminal illnesses. In about two years, I lost four family members and known several friends who have battled illnesses such as cancer. Hospices have been a massive help to my family, and they support people going through their worst days. Even if we hadn’t broken the world record, we still raised an incredible amount of money for charity, which was the goal from the beginning. 

It’s quite a surreal feeling that I, along with 27 others, are World Record holders. You wouldn’t look at me and think I held a world record. To say that I do is quite incredible, and I’m now a part of a very small community of people that hold that title. As for the future? Watch this space for more potential recording breaking.  

Selfie of woman wearing a Guinness World Records sports top on spin bike