UCLan student breaks world-record for second time
John Darwen and his brother-in-law claim record for pulling 1.5 tonne trucks 32 miles during 24 hours
A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has used superhuman strength and stamina to break a Guinness World Record for the second time.
John Darwen and his brother-in-law James Baker have officially broken the record for pulling a vehicle the farthest distance in 24 hours after they each hauled 1.5-tonne trucks 32 miles.
The final year BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy student undertook the phenomenal physical feat to raise money for Cancer Research after he was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia as a teenager.
They were joined by fellow UCLan student Daniel Callaghan who was also attempting the record himself in honour of his late sister, who left behind two young daughters when she died of cancer five-years-ago. He achieved 14 miles on the day but had to stop after he pulled a ligament in his left ankle.
John, from Preston, said: “I’m so proud of what all three of us have achieved. It’s the journey of getting here which has been the most important part. We all worked so hard to try and break this record and I’m really delighted the many hours of dedication to training paid off.”
"We all worked so hard to try and break this record and I’m really delighted the many hours of dedication to training paid off"— World Record holder John Darwen
When they undertook the challenge at Elvington Airport, in York, James was ahead of John for most of the journey. At mile 30, John’s feet were severely blistered and both his big toe nails had been badly bruised, making the final miles much harder.
John said: “James could have kept the lead and claimed the title for himself, but instead he pulled his van alongside me and we went the final two miles together. I was ready for giving up at the end of mile 31 but persevered to make it 32. James finished ahead of me but put his harness down and walked with me to cross the final lap line together.”
James commented: “I could’ve gone ahead and perhaps completed another four to five miles, but if I did would it have been worth it? What’s better, to finish first, or to finish with my brother-in-law, my best friend, and hold the record together? I was willing to sacrifice further miles to allow John to share the certificate.”
The 31-year-old and James had previously broken the same record in 2021, when they pulled a 1.5-tonne vehicle 22.1 miles in 24 hours.
To help them increase their chances of pulling for a longer distance, they worked with trainer Neil Salanki on a specific training schedule, which included hypertrophy, endurance, conditioning and plyometric training. Within their programme they practiced pulling 1.5 tonne vehicles around flat, quiet industrial estates.
"What’s better, to finish first, or to finish with my brother-in-law, my best friend, and hold the record together? "— James Baker, world record holder
The personal reasons behind the attempt made it an even more special record-breaking feat. At age 16, John was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and had to undertake four years of gruelling chemotherapy to remain cancer-free. He added: “I can honestly say that it just feels so surreal, incredible and emotional all at the same time to still be able to do the things I am doing right now. Words cannot describe how much I am so thankful for all the doctors, nurses, care staff, cleaners and family who cared and looked after me while I was going through it.”
John works part-time at Redeeming Our Communities with James, who raised money for the Blackpool-based charity. They managed to raise more than £2,500 and he added: “We have done our very best to raise as much money as we can for two incredible charities.”
The record attempt took place last August but it has taken until now to be officially verified.
The duo plan to continue breaking more records this year with at least three similar records being lined up.