Movie-watching duo breaks world record by hour

While most of the world spent Monday's Labor Day holiday resting from work, Marti Runnels and Chris Moore spent the day catching up on sleep - three days worth to be exact.

On Sunday, Sept. 1, Wayland Baptist University employees Runnels and Moore successfully broke the world record for continuous movie watching around 3:45 p.m. with a final time of 51 hours and 50 minutes.

The marathon started around 1 p.m. on Friday, with approximately five folks starting the challenge. While most dropped out after only a few hours, freshman Lacy Vercher lasted 21 hours before calling it quits. In the final analysis, though, it was only Runnels and Moore who lasted the entire time, breaking the previous record of 50 hours and 55 minutes near the end of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

" 'Sweeney Todd' is my favorite musical, and Chris' too, so we decided to save that to the end when we knew we'd need something to keep us up," explained Runnels, theatre director at WBU. "Afterwards, though, we had a hard time remembering how long we'd gone, so we started watching 'Streetcar.' That's what was actually going when we passed the record, but 'Sweeney Todd' gave us some vitality toward the end. We were singing all the songs to stay awake."

Runnels and Moore, technical director for theatre, watched a total of about 30 movies from all genres, and the two used every known tactic to keep from falling asleep.

"It's a weird thing your body does when you haven't had any sleep. Sometimes I'd watch two or three in a row and not feel tired, and then at other times I just kept nodding," Runnels said. "We walked around the screen a lot, danced, did exercise, chewed on ice, put ice down our backs and anything else we could do to stay awake."

Runnels said much credit goes to Tisa Whitfill, a theatre student at Wayland and the theatre secretary, for keeping the pair awake, switching movies out and changing videotapes for the filming of the event, which has to be sent to Guinness for proof that the event occurred and no one broke any rules. He said she managed to stay awake for about 80-90 percent of the marathon. He also mentioned his wife, Mary, and Moore's wife Teresa as big supporters who brought food and cheered the group on, along with WBU instrumental director Tim Kelley.

Runnels said the group went about 38 hours before taking a rest break, storing up the five-minutes-per-hour allotted by Guinness for folks attempting to break a marathon record. The two-hour nap was welcomed. until the pair woke up.

"That's where it got really interesting, because after you wake up your body really wants more sleep and you have to get up and watch movies in the dark," he said.

The movie marathon was a fundraiser for the theatre department's January trip to New York. The group solicited per-hour pledges from supporters and will gather money this work toward the trip.