Perhaps new Norwegian record for the longest recorded hug
On Sunday 8th of October, two students hugged for an extraordinarily long time. Their goal was not to draw attention to themselves but rather to something more universal.
28-year-old philosophy student Chiemeka Uzochukwu and 23-year-old engineering student Karol Szczypka tried to beat the Guinness record in the discipline marathon hugging.
They wanted to draw attention to the issue of mental health by attracting attention to the project.
– It was not about ourselves, it was a projection of the need to be with other people, comments Uzochukwu.
Wants to change lives
Uzochukwu and Szczypka met last year. Despite coming from different continents, they immediately felt they had many things in common. And above all, one experience – immigration to Norway.
Uzochukwu moved to Bergen from Nigeria in August 2022.
– I have been living here for many years longer than Chiemeka, since I was a child, but I still remember how mentally exhausting it can be in the beginning, Szczypka says.
Their friendship soon resulted in the creation of Stories Changing Lives, a non-profit organization that aims to help young people deal with their painful experiences and provide them with a supportive community where they can work together on mental health.
The 16-hour long hug
For now, the record for longest marathon hugging is 32 hr 32 min 32 sec, achieved in the USA in 2015. Uzochukwu and Szczypka wanted to break it.
Their goal? To hug for 48 hours.
In the end, they managed to do so for an impressive 16 hours.
Studvest is not sure about what the standing record for marathon hugging in Norway is, but these guys does perhaps occupy the throne after their effort.
– After 16 hours we started to feel cold and pain in our muscles and bones. So we decided to stop. And we felt it wouldn’t be nice to do something about promoting mental health and all of the sudden you have to call an ambulance, Uzochukwu explains.
Going for the record required taking into account some strict rules.
– We were allowed to have a five-minute break every hour, explains Chiemeka – we couldn’t sleep, we could just eat some snacks during these short breaks.
– It was required of us to have two independent witnesses working in shifts present at all times. They had to watch us, document the attempt in log books, and control that everything matched with the video evidence, says Karol.
Was forced to quit by the cold
There were six witnesses who worked in pairs, having shifts every four hours. Studvest talked to three of them.
David Olukoya Peter mentions the difficult conditions in which the project was carried out:
– For me, it was more about the cold itself. I was there for four hours and I was well dressed, but I felt it was cold.
– I think they were very brave. When we went to observe them during the night it was very cold. I admire their perseverance, says another witness, Maëlys Even Parodi, a French exchange student.
Olga Mierzejewska, exchange law student from Poland, summarizes the action:
– They were standing there for two thirds of the day. I can’t even imagine how much effort they had to put into it.
Indeed, the cold was one of the factors that contributed to the students stopping the stunt.
– We didn’t anticipate the cold, and it impacted us so much. It was very harsh, Uzochukwu admits.
Ready to try again
The stunt was planned to finish on the 10th of October, the World Mental Health Day.
– We did it for young people out there, who find themselves in difficult situations but find it hard to talk about it. We wanted to symbolize the need to have people around. People that you can hold onto, especially when you challenge or find yourself in a very difficult situation, says Uzochukwu.
– When you feel down, you wish someone could hold you, adds Szczypka.
– We are social and physical beings, so hugging is probably one of the best symbols of mental health support. And, it also shows young men that you can indeed lean on each other, and you can be comfortable with each other.
The students won’t give up and have decided to go for another record-breaking attempt.
– I have already updated the application on Guinness, Uzochukwu declares.