Andrew Shapiro’s quest to set a Guinness World Record began seven months ago, with American Ninja Warrior and his father’s cancer diagnosis.
Shapiro, a fan of the obstacle course challenge television show, decided he wanted to dedicate himself to getting into peak physical condition. Inspired by his father’s five-year battle against colon cancer, the 17-year-old practiced incessant pull-ups with the goal of setting three world records during a Relay for Life event in Fairfax County, Va.
Beginning Saturday at 8 a.m., he started his pull-up marathon. Within six hours, the Langley High School junior completed 3,515 pull-ups — a new world record. By 12 hours, he had finished 5,742 pull-ups — another world record. Then he set his sights on a final record — the most pull-ups performed in 24 hours: 6,800 completed by Czech Republic athlete Jan Kares in 2015.
At the 15-hour mark, Shapiro matched Kares’ 24-hour record and kept going. After 18 hours of pull-ups, Shapiro stopped, having put his chin above the bar 7,306 times. His family set up three video cameras to continuously record Shapiro’s attempt while 15 judges observed his efforts and completed paperwork to certify the achievement for the Guinness World Records books.
So how did Shapiro do it? He credits his success to American Ninja Warrior, the Star Wars movies, sushi and pineapple.
Shapiro said he became interested in fitness after watching the show and has a long-term goal of auditioning to compete on it. (At 17, Shapiro has to wait four more years until he can go on American Ninja Warrior, which he said he considers, “the biggest challenge out there.”)
Shapiro’s training to set the world records was extensive. To test his endurance, he performed 10 pull ups a minute for six hours straight and watched the Star Wars movies, as well as Indiana Jones and the X-Men flicks, to help pass the time. For snacks, he ate boxes of sushi and half pound cartons of pineapple. Setting the record became an obsession.
Along the way he blistered his hands. His shoulders ached. He gave up baseball this year, skipping the season in order to train full time for pull-ups.
“It was blood, sweat and hours and hours and hours of hard work,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro not only completed his goal but also raised $4,000 for the American Cancer Society. His mother, Stephanie Shapiro, said that her husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2011. He’s endured two major surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and is now cancer free and in remission.
The younger Shapiro said that he hopes his experience at the Relay for Life event will prepare him for competition infront of a national television audience.
“I’ve always liked challenging myself so I’ll add this to my resume as a person for American Ninja Warrior,” Shapiro said. “I figure they won’t say no to someone who has the world record for pull-ups.”