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52 million pounds and a dream: St. Helena weightlifter attempting Guinness World Record

Video: Robot sets Guinness World Record solving Rubik’s Cube: 0.9 seconds

Software developers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose were awarded a Guinness World Record when their robot solved a Rubik’s Cube in 0.9 seconds on Feb. 5, 2016, at Tradebot Systems in Kansas City.
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Software developers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose were awarded a Guinness World Record when their robot solved a Rubik’s Cube in 0.9 seconds on Feb. 5, 2016, at Tradebot Systems in Kansas City.

Richard Armstrong of St. Helena Island once yo-yo’d for four days. But before his feat could be published in the Guinness Book of World Records, someone else did it for four days ... and two hours.

The quick loss of that record taught him a hard lesson: Make things as difficult as possible for those who follow you.

With that in mind, Armstrong set out last year to establish a record that would require an incredible physical and mental commitment to top.

In fact, he spent 17 months training before he even started.

He is attempting to lift 52 million pounds in a year. It’s not hard to break down the math: That’s a million pounds a week for 52 weeks.

With just a little more than a month left in his personally set challenge — May 31 is his ending date — he’s ahead of pace.

“If someone goes to try to break this record and they think they are mentally strong, they better hold on to themselves,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong works out four hours a day at the Port Royal YMCA. He lifts 1,000 pounds every minute.

He burns so many calories that he has to eat every three hours. Sometimes, he gets tired eating while trying to keep up.

The 60-year-old doesn’t have a sponsor, so the rest of each day is spent working in his landscaping business, a physically demanding job.

“I am starting to break down, and that’s hard mentally,” he said.

When he needs an extra push, he thinks of the man with Parkinson’s working out across the gym, the one who is cheerful and encouraging in spite of his own health issues.

“I feed off of people in the gym,” he said, “but still, all in all, I work alone.”

‘I was meant to do something like this’

Breaking records isn’t new for Armstrong. It’s kind of his thing.

He started attempting to break records when he was 14 years old and has broken 15 over the years.

He played 200 hours of poker.

He pushed a car 5 miles in an hour and 52 minutes.

He did 2,235 sit-ups in just over 35 minutes.

“It’s just something that clicked in me when I was young. It felt like it was right and I was meant to do stuff like this.”

So five days a week, Armstrong plugs in a video recorder to document his workout.

He cranks up the country music and continues the long, solitary slog to his latest finish line.

47,340,000 pounds down. 4,660,000 pounds to go.

“I want to finish on my own terms,” he said. “I want to finish strong.”

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