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Man rides Ferris wheel for 48 hours, crushing old Guinness record

May 20, 2013 at 1:20 PM ET

Navy pier ferris wheel
Courtesy Navy Pier
A man has set a new world record after riding a Ferris wheel for just over 48 hours.

Clinton Shepherd’s world has finally stopped spinning.

The 32-year-old operations manger at Chicago’s Navy Pier lakefront entertainment attraction spent the entire weekend riding a gondola on the Pier’s 15-story tall Ferris wheel in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for riding a fairground or theme park attraction the longest.

“I didn’t just want to beat the previous record of 30 hours and 35 seconds, which was set last July by a guy in Canada, I wanted to shatter it,” Shepherd told NBC News. “Chicago was home to the world’s first Ferris wheel and the title should be here.” That Ferris wheel was built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

Shepherd boarded the Ferris wheel Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and got off on Sunday, 48 hours, eight minutes and 25 later.

In order to secure the world record, Shepherd had to be sure to follow a strict set of rules outlined in a booklet sent by the Guinness World Records organization.

“I could take a five minute break every hour and they were keen that I not fall asleep,” said Shepherd. “So we had a video camera recording the whole time and volunteer timekeepers who noted down everything I was doing.”

During 384 spins on the wheel, Shepherd occasionally had visitors riding along in his gondola, which was outfitted with a TV, chandelier, cushions, curtains and table. Spectators could join Shepherd for a ride by making a donation to the USO. Shepherd’s girlfriend rode along Saturday evening for a candlelight anniversary dinner catered by a local restaurant owned by Michael Jordan.

The Guinness World Records adjudicator even climbed on for a couple of spins, once when Shepherd broke the existing record and, later, when the 48 hours on board was official.

When he wasn’t entertaining guests, Shepherd spent his time snacking on meals sent over by Navy Pier restaurants, watching Batman and James Bond movies, tweeting, listening to music and playing Xbox games.

“It was little rough at about three in the morning, but the more I kept busy, the better,” said Shepherd, who admits that he was a little wobbly-legged at the end of the ride.

“It did feel a little weird when I got off, but I was presented with my Guinness World Records certificate right away and then went to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. After that, I went home and completely crashed.”

Shepherd’s adventure was followed closely by spectators at Navy Pier and by fans on Facebook and on Twitter. After it was all over, fan @Netters08 tweeted: “Awesome Clinton! Now someone get this man a ride home and a pillow!”

Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas.

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