The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Stuart Burrell

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Stuart Burrell

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Summary: Sue found Start Burrell's book Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records an inspiring, feel-good read. She wanted to know more when Stuart popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Date: 4 September 2017
Interviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee

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Sue found Start Burrell's book Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records an inspiring, feel-good read. She wanted to know more when Stuart popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Stuart Burrell: When I imagine my readers, I really want to picture someone that has enjoyed themselves and I would like to think that they might be able to use some of the anecdotes or information to their benefit.

  • BB: In Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records you tell us how you came to make your first attempt on a world record. What inspired you to write the book?

SB: It was a combination of things, I had been asked to give a short talk on how to set a world record for a local magic club and that suddenly made me realise that I had not really been able to share this journey with anyone and it was a rather unique one at that. I also really wanted to tell the story before all it became too old a memory for me to remember it in detail.

  • BB: There can be few people who have as many world records as you, or over such a range. Are there any records which you'd like to have gone for, or even might still be tempted into trying for?

SB: There are two records I really wish I had managed to get to try, they were, or would have been, team based and it would have been with my brothers. One was for Kart racing over 24 hours and the other related to a Robot we build for Robot Wars and Technogames.

I also really would have loved to have set a vehicle speed record, such as the fastest Segway or something like that but my engineering skills are not up to the challenge.

  • BB: The preparation for any world record is far more time-consuming than I'd ever have believed. How has this impacted on your home life?

SB: It hurt. It hurt physically and emotionally. It took time away from my family and from my friends and, when I was training, there were times I could not walk up stairs and, remember, you are not being forced to do this. No one has put a gun to your head to do all of the training, the research or the administration in order to be in a position to then try and prove to the world that you can do something better than someone else.

  • BB: Do people treat you any differently when they realise what you've achieved?

SB: That is a good question, I only wish I knew. I don't tend to mention the records, so if it has come up it is mostly because someone already knew. I remember a colleague once was so shocked when he found out that he 'Googled' me and spent the whole lunch hour just reading out the press coverage. It was all rather embarrassing.

  • BB: The physical world records obviously required an extraordinary level of fitness: have you maintained that level of fitness since? If so, how?

SB: My level of fitness has changed over time. I really put a lot of pressure on my knees when I was training and going for the records and I knew I could not keep it up when I was at work and it took me about 5 minutes to walk up one set of stairs. So whilst I do not have the raw power any more my personal stamina has grown. I have been doing a lot of walking and low impact stuff which has really helped. I still exercise three times a week and try and eat the right food.

  • BB: Did you enjoy achieving the records whilst you were going for them, or was there too much strain and it's something which you're pleased about in retrospect?

SB: Looking back, I enjoyed the records but at the time you find yourself so focused on the actual process, the rules and regulations of each record are such that one error could undo months of hard work, that you are almost incapable of enjoying the event itself because it could all still be taken away from you if you make an error or don't record things the right way.

Then, once you have achieved it, you then have something that you can lose because there is always someone better coming along, so, the window of time for enjoyment is very small.

  • BB: Is there anything you'd have done differently?

SB: I would have enjoyed those moments a bit more.

  • BB: You've got one wish. What's it to be?

SB: To be able to tell my younger self that it will be ok.

  • BB: What's next for Stuart Burrell?

SB: I have a fiction book still waiting to make the journey to the page and I would love to write a business book.

  • BB: Then that's something for us to look forward to Stuart. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us.

You can read more about Stuart Burrell here.

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