Marathon Hugging at St P

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How cool – a Guinness World Record attempt on my doorstep this week (Thursday 19th January).

Six couples encircled by a mob of press journalists and photographers set out about 7am-ish to maintain a continuous standing embrace for over 24 hours as part of a London and Partners PR stunt to get 20 World Records completed in London.

The official rules went something like this: stay standing, no breaking of embrace contact, no sleeping, food/drink can be given to you by friendsand five minutes per hour allowed for “comfort breaks”.  It was a tad chilly and I confirmed to myself that there was no way I would have done this! I could not have stood for more than two hours, let alone be that close to anyone and in constant contact!

The klaxon sounded and then they began. Hugging, continuously for ages and ages. At least there was some entertainment planned throughout the night.

I had to go out of town and got an update later in the day that two couples had dropped out at some point and the remaining couples had been shuffled into the hotel for the evening as it had got even colder. By the time I arrived back about midnight the platform was bare and none of the five hotel staff I spoke to knew anything about their whereabouts (some did not even know it had happened).

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Could it be that they did not make it, the event was canned and I’d been misinformed? A big fail for London at the first hurdle?

I decided to get down to the Meeting Place statue early Friday am to see if there was any more action and I was not disappointed. Four couples remained, including the giddy girls who made for really good interviews on day one and the giddy, rather eclectic guys, who made for great entertainment throughout.

They had made it past the 24 hours and 34 minute threshold – they were all winners; but the officials kept them going for another ten minutes. There was to be no one winner – if they could all stay hugging they would all be record holders…It was a long ten minutes for me so who knows what the poor huggers were thinking. 

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While waiting I enjoyed watching the press frenzy – disheveled photographers that looked like they hated what they were doing, the nudging for the best spot and the tetchy snipes if people got in their way. I chatted to an official (who was later told off for being distracted from her duty) and established that she had been chatting to one of the couples the day before and they broke their embrace whilst talking to her – and got disqualified. She was gutted!

Finally the count down, the klaxon and the cheers. Interesting how none of them unlocked their embrace – too scared to be the first. Then they did and they jumped for joy. The official confirmation came and the official handing out of certificates. I was so chuffed for them.

One Record down, many to go!

Here are my before and after photos on flickr…meanwhile, here’s what the pros got:

Evening Standard – before

Evening Standard – after 

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Marathon Hugging at St P

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