Furman biked 405 miles. "Once I did that," he says, "I understood the resources inside that meditation had unlocked."
Furman can perform in exotic locales or the most mundane. He set his first pogo-stick distance record (11.5 miles) by hopping up and then down Mount Fuji in Japan in 1986. He broke the brick-carrying record (77.05 miles) by toting it around a track in Queens. Some feats, such as balancing glasses (62) atop his chin, required months of practice; others he did on a lark, such as the record for aqua pogo (pogo-sticking underwater, using a snorkel to breathe: three hours, 40 minutes) that he set in the Amazon River while on vacation.
Furman is in excellent shape. On the sod track he has laid at Mount Rushmore, he completes the first half of his one-man peanut-sack 10K race in 42:34, only about double the time it would take a well-conditioned adult to run the same distance. His self-discipline, he says, is the product of his twice-daily meditation exercises.
"When I set the somersaulting record," he recalls, "I was in extraordinary pain. I did the reverse route of Paul Revere's midnight ride, from Lexington to Charlestown. The roads were bumpy. The night before, I had eaten four slices of pizza. That's an unofficial rule for the somersault record, by the way: You can stop to vomit. Anyway, after a while I wanted to quit. But this mantra just entered my head: I am not the body, I am the soul. I am not the body, I am the soul.' I felt my teacher guiding me."
Not all records were made to be broken, even by Furman. The record for being motionless (18 hours), for example, was at odds with his hyperkinetic mien. "I practiced for three hours," he recalls, "and then I was ready to go nuts, so I quit."
Once Furman was at the Temple of Luxor in Egypt with a few pals, a pogo stick and three balls. (As travel coordinator for Sri Chinmoy's international peace conferences, Furman is often abroad.) He decided to break his own pogo juggling record. He was 10 minutes shy of the 61-minute mark when two armed guards spied him. His friends attempted to assuage the guards but drew blank stares in return. Maybe it was the language barrier. Or maybe explaining why someone is hopping and juggling in front of a temple is doomed to failure in any language. The guards cut the record attempt short.
The tree-eating record also eluded Furman. One day while reading the Guinness book he saw that a person had ingested an 11-foot birch tree. I can break that record, he thought. The next few days, tree branches in Jamaica began to vanish. "Then someone told my teacher what I was doing," says Furman. "He said, "That's absurd.' So I stopped."
He knows that many folks find his endeavors absurd. "They always ask me, 'Why?' " he says. Why indeed? Ego? "At first it was," he says, "but not anymore."
"It's a spiritual quest," says Furman. "Breaking Guinness records brings me closer to inner truth. It proves that human beings have unlimited potential."
Back at Mount Rushmore, Furman hops his final leg of the sod path to reach 10,000 meters. Frankenbery presses his stopwatch. "One hour, 24 minutes and 10 seconds," he says in disbelief.