PISCATAWAY, NJ – At 7:50 Sunday morning Kyle Gurkovich stood the chance of beating the record of 5,101 pull-ups done in a 24 hour period set by Rutgers’ Mike Tufo early last year. He did just that going past that record to set a new personal best of 5,110 repetitions.
“I wanted to see what I could do without being hurt going into it,” said Gurkovich who injured his left shoulder in a 2014 Guinness World Records attempt.
This time “it was pretty much my original goal to break 5,000, so that was awesome for me to do that,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to get 6,800, (the world record amount set by Jan Kares in September 2015), but I figured out I wasn’t going to get it about 12 hours in so I said I was just going to go for the best I can.”
“Mike Tufo from Rutgers broke the world record last year with 5,101 so it stuck in my head that I need to get 5,102,”said the Quibbletown math teacher and author of Unsung Heroes, his debut novel.
Gurkovich’s strategy was to do one pull-up every 30 seconds until he reached 5,000. “I got to 5,000 and the guys just kept pushing me,” he said. Before that, “at like 4,400 I felt like my right shoulder was going to pop out but the crowd kind of got me back into it and it kind of just went away.”
Retro Fitness of Piscataway provided support for Gurkovich to train and compete for the world record attempt. “We helped support Kyle by staying open for 24 hours during the time he attempted the pull-ups world record and gave him access to the whole gym,” said Lou Falzarano, the fitness center’s owner and manager.
Gurkovich did more than accomplish his pull-ups goal. His main objective was to raise awareness and support for the Ronald McDonald House of Central and Northern New Jersey in honor of a family he knows who lost a son to cancer.
“We brought in $1,500 selling T-shirts before today, and $2,000 in donations today,” he said. Since he was doing the pull-ups challenge he wasn’t able to check the amount of online donations that were recently received but was hopeful for a significant amount.
“We’ve been running a lot of different fundraisers such as selling ‘Team Gurk’ T-shirts to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and we also have a Tricky Tray raffle,” said Falzarano. Raffle prizes included Yankees tickets, a 40-inch TV, and nutrition supplements. “All of the proceeds are going to go on behalf of ‘Team Gurk’ to the Ronald McDonald House,” he explained.
“We have a 1.2 million dollar annual budget of which we do get a little bit of support from charities,” said Lynne Siedentop the Operations Director for the Ronald McDonald House. “But we raise 90% of that on an annual basis through direct donations and events, and lovely people such as Kyle who say ‘let me do something’ and make awareness and gather donations.”
Siendentop explained that the money Gurkovich raises goes directly to supporting their programs and families. “Every dollar that he makes is a dollar that we didn’t have so it means so much.”
Gurkovich is still deciding his next big challenge to go after.
“There are the most pull-ups in a minute,” he mused. “I keep hitting 42 and the record is 44. But then there’s the longest plank (lying face down with hands touching both sides of the body). That’s about five and a half hours, so it’s something that doesn’t take as much time but is pretty impossible. I want to try one of those things, less practice time. I need to enjoy myself a little more.”
Gurkovich reflected on his attempt at the pull-ups world record. “It hurts,” he said. “I’m never doing this again.”