Outdoors

Unofficial hopscotch record setters Brandon Johnson, Graham Robinson and Emma Franz

Recent University of Puget Sound graduates Brandon Johnson, left, and Graham Robinson catch their breath at the finish of the 3.8-mile hopscotch course they built for an event in May. It would have set the record for longest course, but their verification packet was lost in the mail.
Recent University of Puget Sound graduates Brandon Johnson, left, and Graham Robinson catch their breath at the finish of the 3.8-mile hopscotch course they built for an event in May. It would have set the record for longest course, but their verification packet was lost in the mail. Courtesy

On May 3, a trio of University of Puget Sound seniors seemingly put Tacoma in the hopscotch record books.

Shortly before graduation. Brandon Johnson, Graham Robinson and Emma Franz set up a 3.8-mile hopscotch course on campus. It was nearly 0.4 miles longer than the official world record set in 2011 at the University of Guelph near Toronto.

The friends and about 20 others hopped the entire course. It took 1 hour, 41 minutes for Johnson and Robinson to finish.

I really want to emphasize going after big goals and dreams in life. That was really what this was about.

Brandon Johnson, unofficial hopscotch world record holder

It appeared they, Tacoma and UPS had jumped their way to a Guinness world record. However, the record remains unofficial because their submission packet was lost in the mail, Johnson said.

Johnson, whose idea sparked the attempt, says he’s not hopping mad. He takes solace in the fact that the course and the record were secondary goals. The event was meant as a community outreach for the school. And it raised almost $1,000 for UPS youth programs.

Graduated with a degree in business and looking to launch his career, Johnson has been too preoccupied to worry about his place in hopscotch history. But he recently took a few minutes to look back at the unofficial record and field a few questions.

Q: What happened after the event?

A: I had to compile all this evidence for Guinness World Records. A cover letter. All the press clippings. I had eight witness statements in there. Videos. A professional surveyor measured the course. I shipped it through USPS, and unfortunately they lost the package. It was one of those things where it was probably one of the most important packages I’ve ever mailed. … I spent a good deal of time in Alaska (he worked for a Skagway helicopter tour company over the summer) calling centers and customs trying to figure out what happened. And I just got an email a couple of weeks ago saying that the search was closed.

It’s been this process of coming to terms with the fact that this evidence was lost. There was a lot of hard evidence that, looking back, I should have made copies of. But I was just running out of time before I went to Alaska. It is a bummer.

Q: Does it spoil the experience?

A: I’m so, so happy that we brought different communities together in Tacoma and raised some money for the kids programs. It was rewarding, just the fact that I was able to go after this childhood dream of mine with my friends and some new friends and pass along that belief that you can go after your dreams. I’m always surprised to hear people are still talking about it and thinking about it. That’s a great feeling even though all the evidence was lost.

Q: Did you have insurance on the package?

A: No. It’s really disappointing to tell people this. It’s not an official Guinness World Record, but we did set the record.

Q: Is there anything left over that you can use to put together another submission?

A: I finally got ahold of them (Guinness) after a couple of months and told them the situation. They pretty much said, ‘Send in as much as you can.” I can send in the press clippings and the cover letter. And I can go find the surveyors and try to find the witnesses. But the problem is there isn’t a lot of photographic evidence.

Q: Would you consider doing it again?

A: Yeah. Definitely. It took five months last time, and the partnership with the school was big. But not being a student there anymore it might make it hard to do it on the school property. But a lot of people asked if we were going to do it again.

Q: So what is the biggest thing that comes out of this?

A: I really want to emphasize going after big goals and dreams in life. That was really what this was about.

To nominate somebody for Adventurer of the Week email craig.hill@thenewstribune.com.

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