At 5:01 a.m. yesterday 20 Prince George's Community College students broke a world record by throwing a frisbee for more than 1,001 hours--more than 41 days and nights of sustained frisbee playing.
The champions, members of the Flying High Club, overcame lack of sleep, mosquito bites, blisters, sore muscles, rain and noonday heat and more than a few raised eyebrows from parents on their way to the record.
Yesterday they celebrated their feat with firecrackers and champagne on a grassy knoll at the Largo campus, amid a chorus of rock music and the friendly sirens of campus police. They vowed to continue their marathon to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. To date they have raised $2,500, but they say they will keep at it until they collect $8,000--even if it takes another 1,000 hours.
"We wouldn't be wasting our summer just for the record," said Will Dolan, who claims to have been throwing a frisbee for 50 of the last 72 hours and to have napped for a mere two hours. "We could go on forever," he said. Others, like Monica Bozek, spoke of "frisbee burnout."
"The number of first-aid kits we go through is amazing," said the club's adviser, Adele Zimmermann, an economics teacher. When supplies run out, the injured have used masking tape and napkins as bandages.
The frisbees themselves give out at the rate of two or three a week as they split and fray from landing on cement.
Many of the students say the marathon has disrupted their relations with families and friends, work and school. Some have quit jobs, and some budding romances have broken up as exhaustion shortened tempers, Zimmermann said.
"Everyone that's a part of our lives has sacrificed," said Rob Thate, a 19-year-old art major who said he had not been to bed in two days and who tore a ligament in his knee while pitching the disc.
"My dad came out tonight and said he's never going to let me use the car again to come here," said Thate.
Thate's father, David, who appeared only slightly miffed, said, "It was a positive thing to do and for a good purpose. It makes a lot more sense to throw a frisbee than to swallow a goldfish or see how many people can fit into a Volkswagen, but it was disruptive because of his irregular hours."
A few parents showed up for the record-breaking moment and said they were glad their daughters and sons were a part of the fundraising effort.
The previous record of 1,001 hours was set in 1978 by the Alhambra Frisbee Disc Club in California. The International Frisbee Disc Association has been in touch with the Maryland throwers by phone, monitoring the progress for the Guinness Book of World Records, Zimmermann said.
According to rules set by the Guinness Book of World Records, the throwers must stand 45 feet apart and throw the disc every 30 seconds. If a player drops a frisbee the player is not disqualified and the clock continues to run.
The students have divided into three-hour shifts. To beat the heat, some wear hats filled with ice.
To pass the hours, the students listen to music on a powerful 500-watt stereo system, tell stories and jokes and, of course, play every variety of frisbee game. Some have learned to throw while sitting in chairs or lying on the ground or in a fountain. One girl contends she can throw a frisbee in her sleep.
The campus police have patrolled the area making sure the students are safe and well, especially when only two or three are throwing late at night. The police say they have received only one call from a neighbor complaining about loud music.
The group has raised only $2,500 because they spend more time playing frisbee than seeking pledges, said Zimmermann. They hope that businesses will donate and that students will contribute when school starts in the fall.
The charity drive was inspired by a popular school official, Dave Galloway, 33, who has multiple sclerosis. Galloway is the activities programmer for the college and "was the only one who didn't laugh at our idea," Zimmermann said. The students decided to do something for him and other MS victims, she said.
Said Galloway, "I can't say enough superlatives about these people. When they came to my office with the idea, I had no idea they would actually stay out there 42 days, 24 hours a day. It's an inspiration to everyone."
Club members say they want to continue at least through this month and perhaps even until Sept. 4, the day of the Seventh Annual Smithsonian Frisbee Disc Festival. The members hope to walk the 18 miles to the Mall, tossing a frisbee all the way, and end the marathon there.
Most of the members said the marathon was the best way they could spend the summer. Said Thate, "All of us are just a crowd of elderly teen-agers who have a love for the disc and a love for people."