Jul 27 2011

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.


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.”


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.


May 3 2011

May 3, 2011-Checking In

Kate Murr

I’m writing today because I miss you all and I miss the road.

Just one year ago we woke up early at the Flordia Caverns State park and were overwhelmed by the hospitality of Walter Spence and Debbie from the Marianna post office.

I’m also worried about some of the folks we stayed with, especially Terri and Linda,  Linda, Harry, Harold, Mike, the Whetstines, and those in the path of the tornadoes and floods. The email address I gave out when I was on the trail has been disabled, but I would love to reconnect with folks at my current e-mail address: kate.b.murr@gmail(dot)com.

I am well aware that I haven’t posted the last post for the last day of the trip, and don’t know why I still feel a strange tug not to do that, but such is the case. It was a fantastic finish, we rode down a hill and the kids were laughing in the trailer, squirting each other with their water bottles. I was grinning so big I ate bugs. We listened to Big Smith and coasted down the foggy main drag in St. Augustine where the Blantons and the Cleeks greeted us with excitement and champagne and much hugging. I think I’m still processing all the feelings I was experiencing then.

But good grief, it’s been a year since we started! The children are fantastic! Jane is finishing up kindergarten, and has graduated from the Burly trailer to a blue tag along “that matches Daddy’s bike.” And Brady is four! He now has his own “fast, red bike,”  a strider without pedals that he coasts around on at lightning speed. These days, he is a rock star as well as a super hero, and he plays his sparkly green ukulele with all his heart. Stuart is still designing and building homes, but he’s also the Assistant Brewmaster/Facilities Manager/House MacGuyver at Springfield’s newest microbrewery, Mother’s Brewing Company. Mother’s grand opening is next weekend and we’re all extremely excited.

I’ve been busy with the kids and volunteering at Urban Roots Farm, a model farm for sustainable urban family farming, but I’ve also been writing away on a book about our cross-country adventure. I am learning so much about the writing process continue to enjoy discovering our journey through a retrospective lens. I’m writing some articles that I hope to submit to magazines, and I plan to have at least half of the book completed by the end of the summer, at which time I’ll actively begin submitting proposals and seeking publishers, editors, and agents.  Next fall I’ll be teaching and studying creative writing at Missouri State University as I seek my masters in English. There’s a new adventure around every corner, eh?

So, if you get this, and we haven’t connected in a while, could you please send me a note to know you’re fine and how your family fares. We have put together a few presentations to speak for bicycle advocacy and I’m linking to one here so that we can remember together some of our adventures and the people who made them fantastic.

Happy trails to you!