Ever wonder what goes into those “Guinness Book of Records – records. Clayton’s Greg Pepe knows firsthand, as this winter he tried to break the current record, and therein lies a nice story. Spoiler, Greg did not make it THIS time, but when he explained the whole account, we understand that this was a “big deal.”
First, we go back to a gift Greg received when he was just a youngster. It was a copy of that year’s Guinness Book of Records. As he recalls, he read it cover to cover, many times over. And one day he asked his mother if he could ever be in the book. His mother’s brilliant answer was simple. “You don’t need to be a super athlete; you just have to have perseverance in what you choose and do your best.”
That advice stuck with Greg as did the desire to one day be in the book! He decided to aim for the “Most miles traveled on a snowmobile in 24 hours.” He wanted to try in 2014, but the ice conditions were not ideal. This year, 2019 the situation was ideal.
The current record was set in 2011, by Nick Musters of Baysville, ON, (Lake of Bays, Muskoka, Ontario Canada). His record was 1,907 miles on a 6.21 mile (10K) oval track. He averaged 79 miles per hour including stops.
Greg launched his try on February 22, 2019, with pit crews, timers, photographers and a videographer. Several friends volunteered their time for the day. Northern Marine helped in numerous ways, including hauling the "Record Central Trailer" out on the ice, while Stat Communications supplied the cameras.
Taking on this mammoth challenge is not a simple task. First, the rules set-down by Guinness Book of Records are a challenge of their own. LaFave White & McGivern LS PC, Theresa, NY volunteered to survey Greg’s chosen 31-mile track, starting in front of Northern Marine in Clayton and stretching all the way up River to Cape Vincent. United Rental of Watertown supplied the lights near Northern Marine, which would be required after dark and Bobcats of Watertown supplied the lights in Cape Vincent. All these steps were necessary to fulfill the Guinness’ criteria, including completing application forms and paying registration fees, a long process, but an important one.
Before getting started, Greg worked out to be in top physical condition. He says, he was more concerned about being mentally fit, for the rigors of the trek. Armed with protein bars and making sure he did not get dehydrated, he was set for the grueling time ahead. The timer went off at exactly 12:00 noon. All along the route, there were cheering well-wishers. Well-wishers including members of the Thousand Islands Snowmobile Club and local residents, who waved arms and flags all the way.
Sometimes, all the planning in the world does not make good things happen. After being just shy of four hours, the track on the Ski-Doo, came apart. He was on schedule and feeling fit for the duration of the journey. But suddenly, going 90 MPH, the track on his machine came apart. He felt fortunate to not having had any personal injury, but his Facebook message said it all.
“My Guinness Book Attempt Ended at 3:55 PM, with 338 miles, when the new speed track on my sled came apart. Right now, I am very disappointed that I was not able to achieve my dream of being in the Guinness Book of World Records. I am also very blessed with all of the love, support and well wishes that I received. I feel I have developed new friendships and that .... alone.... makes it a success!!!!
…There are far too many people to thank in this post. Plus, I am worried I would forget someone. So I will hopefully thank each one of you in person. Until my next adventure ........ Greg”
Today, when you meet Greg, he is just as enthusiastic as he was when he asked his mother what he needed to do to be in the Guinness Book of Records… and you know what? I have every confidence he will remain that way and will try again.
Text by Susan W. Smith, with photographs and material from Jeff Staples; On the River Construction.