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Tossing in Their Sleep

As the Guinness Book investigates, two bowlers wait on pins and needles

For a man with a creaky back, an ankle wrapped in ice and a three-day sleep deficit, Arthur Gardner was feeling good about himself on Aug. 29. The 47-year-old father of seven, a maintenance worker for the Hazleton (Pa.) Area School District, had just bowled for 55 hours and 20 minutes, topping the Guinness record for marathon bowling by four minutes. It wasn't easy. During the 15-minute breaks he got every eight hours, Gardner received treatment from a chiropractor who came over after seeing him on the news. With an hour to go, his left ankle, which he broke a few years ago, became so sore he could barely walk. "But I made it," he says.

Or did he? While Gardner (below, right) and his family celebrated, a reporter from a local paper showed up with a story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying the record had been broken six weeks earlier when Ron Brown, 36, of West Deer, Pa., bowled for 58 hours and 40 minutes. Brown (below, left) finished without medical assistance, though he did take to urinating down his leg and was so delirious that he once bowled before the lane was cleared, hitting the pin rake.

"I was stunned," says Gardner. "Guinness told me the record was 55:16." It still is. Guinness has yet to certify either record attempt, a process that can take months. Says a perturbed Gardner, "I could have gone another three hours."