If you find yourself talking to Suresh Joachim, you can forgive him for sounding like a broken record.
For the better part of a decade, the Mississauga man's life has revolved around exactly that: getting his name into the famed Guinness World Records.
From standing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes) to running the greatest distance with a 4.5-kilogram brick in his hand (126.675 kilometres), Mr. Joachim's knack for wacky stunts has earned him 29 world records since 1996.
He hopes to make it an even 30 next week, by bowling for 100 hours straight at Playtime Bowl in Toronto -- 10-pin, no less.
"I have never played this game in my life," Mr. Joachim, 36, said at the bowling alley last week, where he has been training every night.
Leafing through the Sri Lankan-born, former accountant's pile of Guinness certificates, it's tempting to ask, Who cares? But a similar question propels Mr. Joachim's seemingly pointless pursuits: Who cares about the world's suffering children?
It's a question he began to ask in 1983, when ethnic violence erupted between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese and Tamil communities, and set off two decades of bloody conflict.
"At that time, my heart started to speak," said the slight, slim Mr. Joachim, who was a young teenager attending a Catholic boarding school in Sri Lanka at the time. He recalled how a bloodied man, injured in a bus explosion, stumbled into the school to take refuge. "I was sitting in the corner of my room, thinking I had to do something."
Around that time, he had been inspired by Michael Jackson's devotion to children's causes (notwithstanding the pop icon's subsequent legal troubles involving young visitors to his California ranch). But Mr. Joachim knew there was no avenue to such lucrative superstardom in his strife-torn homeland.
In 1991, while studying to become a chartered accountant in Sri Lanka's capital city, Colombo, an uncle gave him a Guinness record book as a gift. Between its covers, Mr. Joachim saw how he might use attention-grabbing stunts to boost awareness of children's suffering.
He was particularly intrigued by the record for balancing on one foot, which then stood at 34 hours. Lured by its apparent simplicity, he decided to try it at home.
"I stood for three hours and fainted," he said, adding that he had been hobbled by a scarcity of food because of the fighting. Undaunted, he got a service club to sponsor him and told Guinness that he planned to set a new record of 35 hours. He was encouraged when he found out he was allowed five minutes of rest each hour, but vexed when Guinness told him the record had since been broken and stood at 45 hours.
The service club, which had already booked the stadium at Colombo's Vihara Maha Devi Park based on a 35-hour attempt, was not pleased, but Mr. Joachim was able to start early, and set a new record of 47 hours.
Or so he thought. "I broke the record, but a guy in India did it for 55 hours around the same time," he said. "I was very sad."
Mr. Joachim regrouped and turned to a new and more ambitious target, and one that would stick: He ran 3.495 kilometres, once every hour, for 1,000 consecutive hours from Aug. 19 to Sept. 29, 1996.
Emboldened by the decisiveness of that record, which still stands, he took another run at the one-legged balancing act the following spring, with similar success: His record of 76 hours, 40 minutes is still the time to beat, though it was a painful ordeal he said he would not repeat for a million dollars.
In 1998, he moved to Australia, where he found it easier to find corporate sponsors for his efforts, all in the name of a charity he founded, the Universal Fund for Suffering Children.
At one mall, he travelled a record 225.44 kilometres up and down the escalators, and at another, ran 126.675 kilometres, in laps around a fountain, while carrying a 4.5-kilogram brick in an ungloved hand, pointing downward. Mr. Joachim made his way to Toronto in June of 2003 to set the record for the longest continuous radio broadcast, 120 hours, at Scarborough's Geethavaani Tamil Radio station. While here, he met Christa Rasanayagam, the woman he would marry.
Naturally, their wedding set records too. Ms. Rasanayagam had 79 bridesmaids, and carried a bouquet 60.09 metres long, at Mississauga's Christ the King Church.
Since then, Mr. Joachim has set distance records for running on a treadmill and, most recently, for the longest dance marathon by an individual (100 hours), raising $1,500 for tsunami relief in February.
"In another eight years' time, I'll hold 150 world records," he said, "but if I get more sponsors, I'm ready to do more than that."
More immediately, he hopes to secure enough sponsors to spend a full two years doing nothing but accumulating world records, among them running backward, singing Elvis Presley songs and playing 35 characters in a single movie.
The granddaddy of them all will be his World Peace Marathon, in which he hopes to run through 88 major cities in 54 countries from December, 2006, to June, 2007.
Mr. Joachim aims to raise $1-billion, and collect one million signatures for a petition calling on the United Nations to make June 24 a global ceasefire day.
"There's no one day for people to come together and discuss their problems," he said. "That's my main goal."
His more immediate concern, of course, is the 100-hour bowl-a-thon, which will begin Wednesday at 11 a.m. By next Sunday at 3 p.m., he hopes to have soundly beaten the current record of 60 hours, 15 minutes, set last September in Malta.
Then, he'll head home to his three-week-old son, Joshua, whom he has already tapped as his successor.
"I'm going to teach him tennis and swimming and golf," Mr. Joachim said. "He'll bring more fame to this country."