The Zen of Record-Setting

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Class of ’00 | For someone with four Guinness World Records under his belt, Chris Solarz C’00 doesn’t exactly come across as an adrenaline junkie.

This past June, for example, he set the Guinness World Record for “Greatest Vertical Height Climbed in 12 Hours”—33,000 feet—which he accomplished by running up the 50 floors of the former Bell Atlantic Tower building in Center City Philadelphia 55 times. (The previous record, set in 1994, was 25,712 feet.)

And how did he push himself in his quest for glory for those 12 long hours? He says he viewed it as “time to decompress a little bit.”

Occasionally “I thought about work, family, relationships,” he adds. Or maybe even “what I have to do when I get back to the office.” But most of the time, “I never really thought farther than the top floor.”

Earlier that month Solarz helped set the record for fastest “linked marathon.” He and four friends, tethered together by a rope, completed the 26.2-mile God’s Country Marathon in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, in three hours, 26 minutes, 15 seconds—more than 12 minutes faster than the previous record. That one didn’t faze him much, either. “We just talked the whole time,” he says.

Then, in July, Solarz set the record for fastest combined marathons run on all seven continents—22 hours, 14 minutes, eight seconds, pending confirmation by the Guinness officials—by completing the Rio de Janeiro Marathon in two hours, 49 minutes, 26 seconds. His combined record is approximately an hour and a half faster than the previous record, though he notes that “if the Kenyans were running in Antarctica, they would have beat me anyway.” Mostly, he views his continent-running as “an amazing travel experience.”

Solarz set his first world record in 2009, when he and his friend Matt Ferrisi raced through the entire New York City subway system—“468 train stations, 25 subway lines, and a single potty break,” as the New York Daily News put it—in 22 hours and 51 minutes. Having optimized their route by building a simulation that compiled all the train schedules, they were able to shave more than two hours off the previous record.

“We kind of had the perfect route,” he says. “We were really, really confident that we had that one.”

Unusual records notwithstanding, Solarz is a creature of habit. He wakes up every morning at 5, runs for two hours, gets to his Wall Street office (he’s a hedge-fund consultant and director of Cliffwater LLC) by 8, leaves work at 7, and gets to bed by 10. While getting up to run at 5 a.m. in the middle of winter isn’t something most people would choose to do, he’s not most people. “I actually enjoy it,” he says.

Apart from those long morning runs, Solarz doesn’t resort to crazy training schedules or special diets to prepare.

“I really don’t take it too seriously,” he says, suggesting that he’s “just kind of happened into” all those records.

“It’s a funny way of looking at the world,” he admits.  “Anyone can run a marathon. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

—Maanvi Singh C’13

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