Despite multiple record-setting attempts in the past few months, the true holder of the title has been awaiting certification since February.
Some Guinness World Records are more enjoyable to break than others. "Most nails inserted into the nose in 30 seconds?" Yeah, hard pass. (It’s 15, by the way.) But "Most pubs visited in 24 hours?" Heck, in my 20s, I was inadvertently trying to break that record every Saturday.
So in October 2021, after England’s Matt Ellis first established the Guinness World Record for "Most pubs visited in 24 hours (individual)" at 51 pubs, we probably shouldn’t have been surprised that others quickly set out to topple it. In fact, it’s happened so often and so quickly, that even the record books haven’t been able to keep up.
On February 5, 2022, Welshman Gareth Murphy broke the record by visiting 56 pubs, and Guinness World Records certified his feat that June. By September, England’s Nathan Crimp claimed he had broken the record by stopping at 67 different pubs and began the process of having his record officially verified.
But little did Crimp know that all of his efforts were in vain, because South African Heinrich de Villiers had already been on a record-breaking pub crawl through Melbourne, Australia, that ran from February 10 to 11. He was just waiting for it to be certified, which has now happened, at an incredible 78 pubs.
De Villiers — who said a bit of confusion surrounding his application delayed certification — told Guinness World Records he attempted the crawl to "bring attention to and support the local pub/bar scene in Melbourne that was heavily affected during the COVID-19 pandemic and showcase the hidden and less known places that the City of Melbourne has to offer."
And interestingly, reached via email, de Villiers said that attempting the record in the wake of COVID actually made things a bit easier. "This [was] straight after lockdown," the 22-year-old told me, "where we had to check in at each place we went to. This was very helpful to use as evidence to submit to Guinness World Records that we in fact did go to 78 pubs/bars."
As for his strategy, de Villiers took a novel approach compared to previous record-setters by breaking his crawl into two. He said he set out with his brother Ruald and friend Wessel Burger at 5pm on Thursday, February 10, hit up pubs until midnight, and then took a break (assumedly including sleep) until noon on Friday. They then continue until 5pm that day, breaking the 24 hours into a 7-hour session and a 5-hour session with 12 hours of rest.
But hitting that many locations still had its challenges, with "unpredictability" being the biggest issue. "You can plan as much as you want, but you can never know exactly what will happen," he said. "You don't know which places will unexpectedly be busy or closed and where you will have to wait for longer than you thought you would've. This is ultimately why we had to stop at 78 licensed public houses because we simply ran out of time."
The math of the feat alone is staggering. To hit 78 stops in 24 hours, the average time between pubs would have to be less than 19 minutes. But since de Villiers says they took a 12 hour break, the total crawl time was only 12 hours, cutting the time per stop to under 10 minutes — which had to include ordering, paying, drinking, and walking to the next pub.
Additionally, the record-setter is required to purchase and consume at least 125 milliliters of a beverage at every stop, meaning de Villiers had to have consumed a bare minimum 9.75 liters of liquid — over 20 pints. "We primarily drank beer at the majority of places," he added, "but would occasionally space it out with a Diet Coke or two."
As a result, de Villiers may have finally set the bar high enough where this record won’t be broken for quite some time… or at least not again this year.