The Biggest Reason the Vogel Boys Deserve a Guinness World Record: A Soapbox Post

Kate Murr

You’re ten. The only book you want to read is gone from the familiar spot on the shelf just left of the big broken globe. Looks like Justin Graham got it first. Again.

Shoot!

So you crowd around the library table—elbowing Justin for good measure—and someone starts calling out the stats for the biggest, fastest, first, furthest, longest, and most amazing things ever. In the whole wide world.

And that very day you decide you’ll make the next biggest popsicle, or start the next largest sucker collection, or wear your socks for the most consecutive days. You begin to dream on really big scales because that big book says you can. That big book says that other people have accomplished their big dreams and that if you try really hard, even you can dream big enough to earn a Guinness World Record.

Davy and Daryl were ten. Instead of stuffing themselves with peanut butter or hoarding bubble gum, they asked their mom to write to Guinness World Records to receive guidelines for becoming the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Trail.  Can you imagine the courage it took for Davy and Daryl to dream so big: big enough to imagine themselves pedaling bicycles from Alaska to Argentina  across 17,300 miles and fifteen countries for three years of their life? Big enough to imagine themselves earning a world record? Big enough to imagine that they could inspire all those other kids crowded around tables to go live their own dreams?

In June of 2008 Davy and Daryl, both just ten years old, received the GWR guidelines and the Vogel family left on their adventure of a lifetime from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. They followed the guidelines they received even when it was easier to do things differently.  They pedaled, worked, kept dreaming, learned, grew, persevered. They wrote and posted essays that will knock your socks off to read, they engaged and fostered and fed their dream through innumerable challenges. Finally, in March of 2011 the Vogels reached Ushuaia, Argentina—the End of the World. The boys were thirteen.

Now that they’re home, they’ve filed their final paperwork to receive their record, but they were instead issued this reply: “Unfortunately, we at Guinness World Records, have decided to rest this record, meaning we have decided to no longer recognise the category as a record, due to the fact that the record would reach an age where a person would no longer be able to break it or attempt (i.e. a two-year old attempting to do it) and as it would become limited under these terms, we choose to to no longer recognise it as a category.”

Well.

I’m writing today to ask you to support the dreams of these boys.  GWR should recognize the Vogels for accomplishing the 2008 record guidelines.

Granted, what Davy and Daryl achieved during their tremendous journey—the perspectives they’ll develop, the treasures they’ll glean from it for the rest of their lives, the countless people they have and will touch and inspire—can never be fully recognized by a certificate or record.  All our journeys supply intrinsic rewards. But read this from Davy and tell me they don’t deserve acknowledgement for seeking and achieving this lofty goal:

“Thinking that I would be in the Guinness Book of World Records helped motivate me during the very tough times of our trip. It made me go even faster the last week or so of our trip. I would probably have hitched a ride when it was very hot or we were climbing a very steep hill, but I didn’t because I wanted to break the record.”

For these boys and the rest of us who have been inspired to dream big because of a whole magical collection of accomplishments large, small, and kooky, please tweet to @GWRnews, write a blog entry, or post here asking GWR to reconsider their position and take action to recognize this tremendous achievement.

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7 Responses to “The Biggest Reason the Vogel Boys Deserve a Guinness World Record: A Soapbox Post”

  • Dixie Says:

    I feel these boys deserve their chance at the GWR after all their hard work and everything they accomplished and you should be ashamed not to let them have their record in your book.

  • Harry & Ivana, WorldOnaBike Says:

    Actually, I think this is the best that could happen. They cannot accept the record and retire it afterwards; basically they accepted the record, but are retiring it before.
    This means that the boys did not only get the record, but that nobody ever will beat it.

    It might not be in the books, but it is online and more importantly, in their heads. Don’t let a missing line take that away.

  • Alan Jeppesen Says:

    GWR entered into an implied contract: If you do this and this, we will acknowledge you being the youngest persons to complete the Pan American Trail. The boys then followed the guide lines and performed their end of the contract. Now GWR is reniging on their performance. If they had communicated before the Vogels started biking the Trail, or even after they had started, but not finished it, perhaps GWR would have had a valid argument, but they didn’t. They waited until the Vogels performed their side of the agreement, and then said, sorry, we aren’t going to keep our word. Additionally, their grounds for withdrawing the catagory just seems so superficial. They need to reconsider their position and do the right thing.

  • kmurr Says:

    @Dixi and @Alan, thank you for your comments. If you would like to share your comments with GWR and you’re a Facebook user, you can “like” GWR at this link: http://www.facebook.com/GuinnessWorldRecords then post your comments on their wall.

  • kmurr Says:

    @Harry & Ivana, Thank you for your comments. I checked out your website and am READY TO GO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN! :) It looks like you have been up to some amazing adventures. Best of luck to you with your Illumination project.

    I think the issue here is that the Vogels were never able to accept the GWR record because GWR never officially recognized that they achieved the record.

    Even though GWR issued the Vogels guidelines in 2008 at the beginning of their trip, and even though the Vogels followed these guidelines, they are being denied the record because the category for their record has been retired. GWR claimed a few days ago: “we could not accept your effort is because our Records Management Team has taken the position, since 2009, to not monitor unsuitable records achieved or submitted by people younger than 16, unless the record is sanctioned by an internationally recognized organization or federation.” However, in March of 2009 the Vogels contacted GWR “to ask…about rules. They had since changed the rules, but stated they would abide by the guidelines they had originally given us.” (The exchange between GWR and the Vogels can be seen here.)

    I agree with you completely that the greatest achievements for these boys are untouchable, intrinsic, and uniquely theirs. I think it is safe to say that none of the Vogels are seeking any sort of validation by pursuing this record. Instead, I think they pedaled the whole way with a valid expectation that they were pursuing this acknowledgement that was extremely motivating and important to them. I think they deserve the recognition from GWR that they clearly earned.

  • Melissa Banigan Says:

    I think it’s so great that this traveling community of families is rallying around the Vogels! One more way to help is to sign a petition that has been made. The link and more info is embedded in the post I wrote in support of the Vogels: http://breakoutofbushwick.org/?p=209

  • John Says:

    I understand that these two young boys want this record but if you really want it their mother has to stop implying on her family on bikes site that its not about the record, it is or it isn’t, it cant be both.

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