The man who spent 112 days eating, drinking and sleeping on the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Richard Rodriguez ate, drank and slept on the ride for three-and-a-half months

 

Richard Rodriguez arriving at a ballon-filled end of the Big One
Richard Rodriguez at the end of one his marathon stints on the Big One (Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

For a lot of people, the idea of riding the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a terrifying prospect.

The idea of a few rides back-to-back, even more so. But what about riding it for an entire summer?

That’s exactly what American Richard Rodriguez did when he smashed his own world record for the longest time spent on a roller coaster.

Aside from a five minute break each hour, Richard spent three-and-a-half months eating, drinking and sleeping on the 213ft, 75mph ride.

The epic challenge was no one-off, but instead the culmination of a series of records the lecturer had set at the seaside attraction.

He claimed his first record in 1979 with a 140 hour relay at Blackpool and returned in 1994 when he racked up 549 hours on the Big Dipper.

Richard, who was scared of roller coasters as a child, was back in Lancashire in 1998 when rival Normand St Pierre challenged with 670 hours on a coaster in Montreal.

That year, he racked up an astonishing 47 consecutive days on the resort’s Big Dipper ride, to record a new total of 1,013 hours.

He had asked permission from the park’s then managing director Geoffrey Thompson to stay on the wooden coaster until he had hit the 1,000-hour mark.

Upon his completion, Mr Thompson said: “Richard has shown incredible resilience, riding day and night through appalling weather.

“On behalf of all the staff and management at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the tens of thousands of members of the public who have cheered him on his way, I congratulate him on this remarkable achievement.”

Mr Rodriguez added: “I’d like to thank Mr Thompson, the Thompson family, the many members of staff who have been involved in this world record attempt and all those people who have come down to the Big Dipper and given me their generous moral support.”

The daredevil was back in 2000 when he almost doubled that record to a jaw-dropping 2,000 hours. As he set off on the madcap challenge, he told reporters: “I guess I just like a challenge and I hope to set the world record once and for all. And riding for 2,000 hours is a great way to celebrate the Millennium.

Richard Rodriguez
Richard Rodriguez (Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

“I love this ride and Blackpool Pleasure Beach has always been good to me so this is the ideal place to set a record.”

In 2012, he returned for one final effort, this time moving onto the Big One, as he stretched that record to 112 days while also raising money for the charity Give Kids The World which helps children with life-threatening illnesses.

In total, he spent three-and-a-half months on the ride between May and September 19.

As well as eating and drinking, diabetic Richard would even inject himself with insulin mid-ride. Under the Guinness Book of Record rules, he was allowed to take five minutes for each hour on the roller-coaster, which he saved up for a one-hour break each morning and evening, during which he would eat a bigger meal than he could manage on the ride or simply lie down for 15 minutes.

He would also while away the time on the ride by reading newspapers and writing pun-filled postcards telling friends, “This summer break is having its ups and downs.”

While the breaks were hugely important, what really kept him motivated were the holiday-makers who came to visit and cheer him on.

He said: “People from all over the world came to chat with me and give me support.

“I met a little boy and girl, now grown up, who had come to see me on a similar challenge in 1979.”

At night, as the wind howled and the rain poured, blankets and tarpaulins covered him as he slept in the fetal position.

Reflecting on his experience, he added: “I love the romance, adventure and sometimes danger of it. I like the idea of seeing it through with a team. The people I met and the technical operators were fantastic.”