What started off as a ‘why not, we could beat the world record’ towards the end of 2022 culminated in an ambitious attempt organised by RSKV Erasmus. Last weekend, 26 players, mostly from RSKV Erasmus and some from korfball teams in Delft, Leidschendam, Hellevoetsluis and Tilburg partook in the mixed teams’ attempt at a tropically hot outdoor field in Prins Alexander. The final score after 33 hours was 826-982.
A sandy astroturf field with water and sunscreen bottles scattered outside the playing zone is where the historic world record attempt would commence. Playing since 7 am on Saturday, the players protected themselves from the midsummer sun by playing with bucket hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen on their bodies.
Just outside the playing zone were two shady tents, the first being a massive one to provide shadow for the substitute players enjoying a sports-nutritionist-planned lunch of pasta with vegetables. An inflatable swimming pool stood right next to it, occasionally utilised by the heat-struck players. The smaller tent provided cover not only for the two people keeping track of the score, but also for the single most important piece of equipment needed for this weekend: the camera. The camera was essential, as it recorded the entire match as evidence for Guinness World Records.
Ensuring the camera kept operating properly was a challenge. “Sometimes the camera just shuts itself, and a few times we saw the overheating sign”, said Joshua Oosterlaken (24, Quantitative Finance), one of the members of the world record committee supervising the attempt. “We thought if we put some ice packs on the cameras, it would help with cooling. And it did!” To avoid any trouble, a backup camera was set up at a small building right outside the pitch, recording the match.
A promising start
After the first six hours of the match, the scoreline was even at 109-109. “We thought if there was a 30-point difference, players would be less motivated to go on, but there is an actual match going on”, said Menno Smit (21, Management of International Social Challenges) four hours into playing. The competitive scoreline, music playing, infinite supplies of water and snacks and a pre-planned resting schedule gave him confidence. “I feel like I could do this easily for the next four hours”, he claimed. “We have gotten into a rhythm of one hour of rest and two hours of sports. We hydrate, eat, and rest as much as possible.”
The weather did the camera nor the players any favours. Sunscreen was imperative, to the dismay of Floris Verheul, a 22-year-old Public Administration student. “The sunscreen mixes up with sweat and then drips in your eyes, which is nasty”, he shared. He expected a bigger challenge on Sunday, given the fact that it was forecasted to be over thirty degrees outside: “If I don’t put a shitload of sunscreen on my face, I will be a red tomato tomorrow!”
Although families and friends cheered on the players, Sunday was indeed a bigger challenge. It was also evidenced by how the substitute bench tent looked. Substitute players napped at every given opportunity on an inflatable mattress, proceeding to wake up shirtless with red eyes. Bags were scattered all around and every ice pack on the camera melted as quickly as the scoreline progressed.
Change of plans
RSKV made multiple changes to their world record attempt. Due to the physical fatigue, together with the scorching heat, they now aimed to play for thirty-three hours instead of the planned thirty-eight. Symbolism, again, played a part in their new target attempt: “VEO [Leidschendam Korfball team] set a record of thirty-two hours, but it was not approved by Guinness for some reasons, so we want to aim for thirty-three”, stated Mitchel Hartog, a 23-year-old Data Science student from the University of Amsterdam. After twenty hours of playing, the attempt had taken a toll on him: “We had a lot of faith, but it became really tiring, especially at night it was quite exhausting.”
It became exhausting mainly due to sleep deprivation. “Almost everyone slept for an hour, and some slept for two”, revealed Mirte Horstink (24, Medicine), player and the competition secretary of RSKV. Throughout the night, Mirte slept for one hour, sat on the bench for an hour, and then proceeded to play until six in the morning. “The night was rough, but I think everybody is functioning quite OK on the little amount of sleep!”
The world record attempt ended at 4 pm. Hugging each other in celebration and relief, everyone took one final picture with the scoreboard. Beers are shared amongst everyone to close off a world record attempt that they will remember regardless of the verification outcome by Guinness World Records.
RSKV Erasmus will now compile all available evidence, which will soon be submitted to Guinness World Records. RSKV will need to wait for twelve weeks after submission to find out whether their record attempt is considered legitimate.