Last month, three friends from Norway set a new world record for visiting the most number of countries in a day. They made it to 19 different countries across Europe in only 24 hours, beating the 2012 world record of 17 countries. Throughout the journey, they had to follow only three simple rules: physically stand in each country, complete visits within any consecutive 24-hour period, and provide media evidence.
The three extreme travelers – Gunnar Garfors, 39, Tay-young Pak, 42, and Øystein Djupvik, 40 – started their journey from Greece at midnight on September 22. From there they followed a northwestern route, passing through 18 other countries: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Switzerland.
They managed to make their final stop in Liechtenstein, just before the 24 hours were up. And although they had time to spare at the end of the trip, bad weather conditions prevented them from making it to their 20th country, Italy. But that didn’t bother the trio, who were obviously elated with their achievement.
“It was a fantastic journey. Now we need to celebrate for 24 hours as well,” said Garfors, shortly after completing the epic trip. “It has been a fantastic journey. We crushed the old record with two countries, and we are extremely happy with ourselves.”
“Our main sponsor, the gambling company ComeOn, kept the excitement going by setting odds on whether we would set the record or not, and on which countries we would visit on our journey,” Pak and Djupvik added.
To complete such a time-sensitive trip required extensive planning, but the trio managed to rise to the occasion. They made use of rental cars to complete most of the journey, and took two commercial flights – Macedonia to Serbia, and Austria to Germany. Djupvik was the driver for the trip, while Garfors was the guide and Tay was responsible for rations. They didn’t have much time to stop and eat, so they ate on the go and relieved themselves during fuel breaks. They even used a peeing bottle when there was no time to stop for a loo break! All through the journey, they documented their progress and experiences using the hashtag #recordrun.
This isn’t the first time Garfors, Pak and Djupvik attempted to break the world record. They previously made an attempt in May, but only managed to tie with the previous record holders at 17 countries. “I don’t like sharing. Not world records, at least,” Garfors wrote on his personal blog, just before their second attempt. “The route is all brand new, we have put even more planning into the project this time and we have experience. The experience of failure. Can’t beat that.”
Lucky for them, everything went according to plan this time. “Everything went smooth, besides from some bad weather in Switzerland, and some trouble with a rental car in Greece before the start of the race,” Garfors explained. There was also a bit of a hiccup when the team’s photographer John Bjarne Lium almost got himself arrested at the Greece-Bulgaria border. The Border guards didn’t like being caught on camera, but luckily it was all smoothed out in no time. In Kosovo, the border crossing queue was so long that they had to abandon their car and sprint across and back, just to be able to add the country to their list.
“We all like drama and good stories, as long as they end well. And this one really did end well. You could call it the ultimate boys trip, three lads visiting all these countries and having a bit of fun. Now we have been on the road and should be tired, but setting a new world record feels like winning the lottery and we wonder if we should continue to travel for 24 hours more,” he said, just after completing the journey.
The three globetrotters now plan to release a documentary about their unique adventure, complete with instruction on how to use a ‘peeing bootle’ when there is not time for a bathroom break. Here is a short preview: