Competition

While I am generally laid back and mild mannered, there are times when something manages to hit a spot deep inside of me like a gong that resonates up through my bones and flesh and demands that energy be expended. I call it my competitive bone. It doesn’t get hit often, but when it does, boy do I react.

For its 25th anniversary this year Cirque du Soleil is going to attempt to break the world record for stilt walking which they initially set in 2004 with 544 stilt walkers. In 2006 the Japanese beat Cirque’s record with 614. Last year Brandford, Ontario upped the ante to 625. Cirque is aiming for around 1000 next week, thinking that will stand for quite some time.

I probably can’t make it out to the historic attempt Tuesday (though I’m going to try) and in any case, records are meant to be broken. I’ll bet I can get 2000.

Whoa buddy! You’re probably saying. Kay, you’ve only walked on stilts ONCE and now you’re threatening to overturn Cirque’s world record?! Slow down!

No. I’m feeling competitive.

Besides, I don’t think it’d be all that hard. Because I know a place. An ancient alkili lake…

Playa stilts

Burning Man. Surely there are a couple thousand stilt walker at Burning Man, and likely a couple thousand more who’d learn if only to blow a record out of the water. Of course there are logistical issues, such as it being the most chaotic place on earth outside of a war zone, but with proper planning anything is possible. I worked it all out in the shower this morning.

Burners would be keen to do it, the only real obstacles are A) tabulating the results in a satisfactory fashion and B) dealing with flakiness.

A) This isn’t this hard. The route it obvious. Centre Camp to the Man. So, set up some pillars to seperate out “lanes” – then get volunteers to take responsibility for a lane and count every stilt walker that goes through. Now some people will try to double back – goddam tricksters. No problem, everyone gets a stamp on their way through – YAY! A stamp! What a wonderful souvenier! And a great way to keep track of you maniacs…

B) Flakiness. Burners are VERY easily distracted, because there’s a lot of distracting stuff out there. The solution is blunt, like a hammer. Hit them months in advance through Jack Rabbit Speaks, teach them how to build stilts, how to use them. Remind them again and AGAIN. At the event have stilt workshops a few days before. Finally, the day of send a squad of stilt walkers armed with megaphones down every street as town criers telling EVERYONE that the event is coming up fast and to get your elevated ass to Centre Camp. Finally, promise a big kick ass party for stilters only after the event.

With a population of 40,000 many of whom are circus freaks mustering up 2000 stilters should be a breeze, and an amazing sight.

Now it *might* be possible to pull this off in 2009. It would fit the theme well; humans have been consistently growing taller as we evolve and competition is one of the foundations of evolution. I wouldn’t do that to cirque though. It’d be really bad form to blow their record out of the water their anniversary year before the 2009 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records is even published. In fact it’d be a real asshole thing to do.

So 2010. Watch for the parade marshaller on steam powered stilts with a megaphone in his hand shouting out “Stilters assemble!”

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