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Juggler to go for world record Saturday in Mason City


This news story was published on December 16, 2011.
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A North Iowa man will be going for a Guinness World Record this Saturday at the Iowa National Guard Armory in Mason City.

Mark Hanson, 57, of Kanawha, will be attempting to go for the fastest 3-ball juggle ever recorded in one minute. The current record holder is from the Czech Republic and completed 339 throws in one minute in 2009.

“I believe I will obliterate the record,” Hanson said Wednesday. “I’ve gone well over 400 tosses before in practice.”

“After being discharged from the Air Force I joined a juggling club and started learning new tricks from other jugglers,” Hanson said. “I can now juggle about 50 3-ball tricks, eight 4-ball tricks and four 5-ball tricks.”

Hanson said he loves to teach others how to juggle. “I’m not really a juggling performer, I prefer teaching kids how to juggle. I have taught several hundred kids over the years at fairs and festivals. I want to get into schools to teach kids how to juggle. My strong suit, when it comes to juggling, is that I’m a good teacher.”

Hanson said that the he will perform his feat in front of the whole crowd Saturday during the “Winter Fun Fest” event, which is being coordinated by the North Iowa Youth Center. The event features children’s activities of all kinds and is being held from 1-4 pm. There is a $10 entrance fee, but $2 will be marked off if a new unwrapped toy (Toys for Tots) is donated.

It’s recommended that people show up at about 3:30 pm in order to watch the record attempt by Hanson.

The Iowa National Guard Armory is located at 1160 19th St. SW in Mason City. You will need to go south on South Pierce avenue and immediately take your first left turn and follow the drive under the overpass to reach the armory.

Watch video interview:




Mark was kind enough to provide NorthIowaToday.com with his bio:

Mark Hanson Life/Juggling Bio

I broke my left arm when I was four years old. The doctor who set my arm in a cast didn’t realize that I had broken my left thumb too. A year later I showed my Dad that my thumb didn’t work like it was supposed to, I couldn’t bend it. He said, “Oh well.” I still can’t bend it. And yes, it does affect my juggling slightly. Occasionally, a ball will smash into my unbendable thumb because I can’t quite get it out of the way in time. I suppose you could call me the world’s fastest disabled juggler.

When I was twelve my friend Brian shot me in the face with a BB gun. I didn’t realize the BB penetrated my upper lip. I noticed the BB two weeks later AFTER it healed over. I didn’t dare tell my Dad because he would have killed me. The BB remained in my lip for six years until I entered the Air Force in 1972. An Air Force dentist extracted the BB. According to him it was the only bb-ectomy he ever did.

I hopped freight trains when I was 17 from Minneapolis to California with my friend Skip. We thought it would take us four days. Two weeks later and still about a state shy of California we wondered what the heck we had gotten ourselves into. We dang near starved to death. We only had $9 and two cans of Beany Weenies between us when we started out.

After reaching California, Oceanside California to be exact, Skip stayed and I hitchhiked home. I had to sleep in ditches a couple of times because I didn’t have money for motels. I got back home the day before my senior year started. By the way, I somehow neglected to ask my parents for their permission to go to California via freight trains.

When I was 16 years old I was watching the Flip Wilson variety show. Flip had a juggler on who explained how to juggle. I paid attention, borrowed three golf balls from my dad, and spent the next two days learning.

In 1974, while stationed in the Azores, I happened to be watching another variety show and another juggler came on. I paid close attention to the tricks he performed, got myself three baseballs this time, and spent 2-5 hours per day mastering every trick he did.

Interesting point to ponder here, the year before my marathon juggling obsession I was an average softball player, the year after, I was selected for the base all-star team. Coincidence?

After being discharged from the Air Force I joined a juggling club and started learning new tricks from other jugglers.

I can now juggle about 50 3-ball tricks, eight 4-ball tricks and four 5-ball tricks.

I spent three years learning one of the hardest 4-ball tricks around, it’s called “4-ball Mills Mess”. It’s pretty cool looking and wickedly hard.

I moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Kanawha, Iowa in 2004.

I’m not really a juggling performer, I prefer teaching kids how to juggle. I have taught several hundred kids over the years at fairs and festivals.

My wife and I have five kids. My wife and three of the kids can juggle. We all unicycle. I can free-mount a 5 foot giraffe unicycle and have a YouTube video explaining how I do it. Here’s the YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI8NUZPsxPE

In September of 2011 my kids brought home a Guinness World Record book and pointed out to me that the current fastest juggling for three balls in one minute was 339 throws. They challenged me to see if I could beat it.

My first try, without warming up, netted me 366 throws. I thought I must have miscounted so I tried again. About the same result, 363 throws. To verify that my numbers were accurate my family video taped me juggling. We slowed the video down and carefully counted the throws. My counting was correct.

Several months of intense practice and multiple speed breakthroughs later I’ve pushed my personal best into the 420+ throws. I’m as astonished as anyone at how fast I’ve gotten. There were many times I thought I had peaked at lower numbers.

Most 57 year olds aren’t known for how fast they are at anything let alone juggling. I guess God blessed me with freaky-fast reflexes.

I realize that pulling off a 420 throw run in practice is one thing doing it with all the pressure on for the Guinness World Record will be another. I performed a practice run in front of about 15 people the other day and I struggled to get into the 390s. Pressure is a funny thing. Sometimes I handle it well, at other times I don’t.

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One Response to Juggler to go for world record Saturday in Mason City

  1. Alice Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I heard that he DID break the record. Great job and pretty cool stuff. Always nice to hear a great story, especially this time of year.

    Congratulations to Mark!!!!!!!!