Marathon Cyclist Breaks Guinness World Record for a Cause
Man sets record while raising money for the family of a Hinsdale Central graduate who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
George Hood broke the Guinness World Record of 200 hours on a stationary bike Sunday night and set a new record on Monday. The 52-year-old Aurora man had been pedaling since Oct. 23 to raise funds for the family of Army Pfc. Gunnar Hotchkin, a Hinsdale Central graduate who was killed in Afghanistan in June.
Hood broke the old record at about 10 p.m. on Sunday. He set a new record of 222 hours, 22 minutes and 22 seconds at 8:22 p.m. Monday. This is the third time Hood has broken the GWR on the stationary bike.
On Sunday, an emotional group of about 25 counted down the final seconds to the 200-hour mark, and "Amazing Grace" played on the boombox that was by Hood's side moments after he broke the record. The song was played in honor of Hinsdale Central's Hotchkin and other soldiers who have given their lives.
The record-setting ride took place at Urban Tri Gear in Burr Ridge, a store that sells exercise equipment to tri-athletes.
Preston Bokos, a friend of Hotchkin and owner of Urban Tri Gear, said, "I'm thrilled to raise the money for the Hotchkin Memorial Fund, but I'm also thrilled to give back to everybody and I hope everyone can absorb this moment in their hearts because ... it's just a powerful moment. It teaches you to pay it forward. George, thank you for sitting here all week."
"No problem," said Hood as he continued pedaling. Hood was in good spirits, shaking hands and giving people high fives. Once he began riding, Hood earned 5-minute breaks for every hour he completed on the bike. The longest break Hood took was 28 minutes, during which he slept for 15 minutes and stretched for the remainder.
His reasons for doing this? While working in Afghanistan, Hood became familiar with the tragedy of young soldiers and Marines dying on the battlefield as a result of improvised explosive devices. He said conducted investigations targeting insurgent groups responsible for such devices. According to his Web site, Hood, who has a background in law enforcement, worked in Afghanistan for a division of L-3 Communications.
Since his return to the United States in March 2009, Hood put his energies toward raising funds for causes close to his heart and setting Guinness World Records for endurance on a stationary "spin" cycle.
"I've connected with the family of Gunnar Hotchkin and I'm inspired by his wife and kids who miss him so very much," Hood said in an Oct. 29 interview with Patch. "I hope to raise awareness of all of our heroes overseas and move others to donate generously on behalf of Gunnar Hotchkin and his family."
Hood's ride has been dubbed Operation "Hot Chicken," which was Hotchkin's nickname. In June 2010, Hotchkin, a Hinsdale native and a 1997 Central grad, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan at the age of 31.
Hotchkin's wife, Erin, attended Sunday night's celebration.
"I'm very honored to have people remember my husband this way," said Erin Hotchkin. "It's really nice to know he touched so many people."
Hood's ride for the Guinness World Record began at 2 p.m. Oct. 23. Hood and Bokos wanted to raise money for Hotchkin's three children, Tristan, 4, Ethan, 7, and Taylor, 10, with a goal of $25,000.
A GWR adjudicator was at Urban Tri Gear to certify Hood's accomplishment and to present him with a plaque commemorating the event.