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LAPD officer breaks world record for longest Ferris wheel ride

A Los Angeles police officer broke the world record Friday for the longest Ferris wheel ride, spending 25 hours going round-and-round on the Santa Monica Pier, officials confirmed.

Gus Martinez of Carson withstood chilly winds and sleep deprivation to break the record for a good cause: Donations made to his Ferris wheel feat will go to Special Olympics Southern California. The amount was not immediately available.

"I feel energized," Martinez said an hour before he was due to step off the Pacific Park Ferris wheel and claim his new title. Moments earlier, Martinez was seen on a live camera chugging an energy drink.

Guinness World Records has strict guidelines for Ferris wheel record attempts. Martinez could not sleep and was allowed only a five-minute bathroom break every hour he rode. He was, however, able to accumulate longer breaks.

"It was easy," Martinez said. "I had friends here 'til 5 a.m. to keep me company, but power bars got me through most of the day."

The previous record of 24 hours, 30 minutes was set in Dublin, Ireland, in October.

The record attempt was sponsored by Pacific Park and the Special Olympics to help raise money for the athletic program for persons with disabilities. 

Officials said Martinez was a natural choice. His 23-year-old son, Jason, is a Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome, and Martinez coaches several of the organization's sport teams.

Martinez boarded a tricked out gondola on the Ferris wheel Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Park officials installed special seating with additional padding and attached a solar panel for electricity to power his flat-screen TV, iPad and cellphone.

The day started off with much fanfare by media and supporters. With temperatures in the mid-70s, the ride was breezy until an afternoon chill forced him to grab his hat and sweater. The night was surprisingly comfortable, he said.

Visitors stopped by throughout the day, including family, friends and colleagues at the police department. His 24-year-old daughter dropped by at 3 a.m. to bring fresh homemade cookies.

After Martinez finished the challenge, he grabbed the Special Olympics torch that was attached to his gondola throughout the ride and took the stage with his son. Guinness World Records officials stood nearby to confirm the title.

This event kicked off the lighting of the torch for Special Olympics Southern California, to be held June 9 and 10 at Cal State Long Beach.

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-- Angel Jennings

 
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