On July 1, the slip and slide world record was brought back to America on a 2,021-foot-long piece of soapy plastic. The slide was set up on Slope Road in Canaan Valley Ski Resort and comedically constructed by Natural Light, a beer company that also makes everyone’s favorite collegiate beverage. The world record was set around 11 a.m. by Leigh Rich, a New York resident, who ventured down to West Virginia for the attempt. Although she’s previously been to the Mountain State for a Spartan Race, she said, “the slide is definitely a peak for me.”
Rich, who descended the slip and slide atop an inflatable tube, estimated she went over 10 mph and completed the run in about 90 seconds. Thankfully, it wasn’t a race. Those who followed in her tube tracks showed an astounding array of techniques and styles. Some people achieved perfect starts, flying straight down the slide with arms and legs extended to maximize aerodynamics. Others got hung up, paddling their way down the slide or ricocheting off the inflated sides. And a deflated few gave up after coming to soapy stops in pools of water that had accumulated along the track.
Regardless of the outcome, the prospect of descending the world’s largest slip and slide attracted people from across West Virginia and the country. Nathan Landfried left his home in Ripley, WV at 6 a.m. with a few buddies to take a chance on the record-breaking slide. “It’s gonna be cold,” he said. And cold it was. With an overcast day and the slide being fed by chilly pond water, sliders battled not only the slide, but also the elements.
Others traveled from even farther away for the event. Brock Wente, Hannah Bueker, Roy Beckman, and Cory Meyer piled into a car and drove nearly ten hours from their home in Teutopolis, Illinois to Canaan Valley. None had been to West Virginia before, nor had any been on a slip and slide of this magnitude. “I’ve just been on tarps in the backyard,” said Wente.
At this point, you may be wondering why Canaan Valley was chosen for this bizarre event. We did too, so we asked a few folks. Ben Martinez, head of marketing for Natural Light, has been coming down to Canaan Valley since he was a kid, long before he could legally drink the brew he now represents. According to Martinez, Natural Light called about 70 potential places throughout Appalachia in search of somewhere that was hilly, beautiful, and logistically feasible. Canaan Valley fit the bill. “Natural Light shares a lot of qualities with West Virginia; we’re all about freedom,” he said.
Once the slide was constructed (in a mere 14 hours), Natural Light asked Mike Marcotte, official adjudicator for Guinness World Records, to judge the event. “It’s an incredible feat to put all this together,” said Marcotte. The previous record of 2,007-feet was set in Jordan in October 2015. Each record attempt must adhere to specific guidelines. In this case, there couldn’t be any gaps in the slide and the plastic had to be commercially available. Before the official attempt, Marcotte and a surveyor measured the slide from start to finish to confirm its length.
The new slip and slide world record joins a slew of Guinness World Records made in West Virginia, including fastest 50 meter by a human wheelbarrow (10.88 seconds), most pull-ups in one minute by a woman (34), and most clothes pegs pinned on one hand in a minute (51).
After Rich completed her record-setting journey, she posed with Marcotte, Martinez, and the official plaque in a spray of glory near the slide’s garish entry gate. “This is pretty fantastic to watch, especially the Forth of July weekend,” said Marcotte, who decided to not attempt the slide in his suit.
Highland Outdoors publisher Dylan Jones also set the world record for longest slip and slide by a Highland Outdoors employee.