He may have felt the heat but escapologist Antony Britton could have clinched a world record – for running the furthest distance while on fire.
Eight months of training clearly paid off for the Linthwaite daredevil, who is now waiting for adjudicators from the Guinness Book of Records to confirm that he’s regained the title for the longest distance run full body burn without oxygen.
Wearing anti-burn barrier gel, three pairs of overalls, balaclavas and boots Antony ran 181.2m whilst cloaked in flames – and smashed the previous record of 161.27m set in 2013 by American stuntman Ted Batchelor.
But as he threw himself to the ground for his support team to extinguish the flames, he had no idea whether he’d succeeded.
“I knew what my goal was and that I had to go for it,” he said. “I got as far as I possibly could. But at the 100m mark I turned my right ankle. I thought I’d gone down before the record. I asked how I’d done and they said: ‘You smashed it!’ I was ecstatic and the crowd was going berserk.”
Prior to making the run, which took place before 2,000 people at Wandle Park in Croydon, Antony said he was focused and comfortable despite not being able to see clearly. Then he was soaked with accelerant and set ablaze.
“It was like looking into the abyss. I was nervous but focused. I knew what I had to do. The problem wasn’t the heat, it was the pain from my ankle. I had to grit my teeth and get through it.”
The fire run is the latest in a string of stunts for Antony. Previously he has been buried alive and has had to escape from a straitjacket while suspended from burning ropes 40ft above the ground.
He was urged to do something “normal” by friends to raise money for charity. The fire run was as close as he got.
“I’ve been told not to put my life on the line, but that’s not me. Anyone can do a sponsored walk or run. When I heard about the full body burn I thought, ‘Now we have a challenge’. The best bit was bringing the world record back to the UK.”
Antony has a message – “Bring it on” – for any rival intent on breaking his record. And to youngsters inspired by his fiery derring-do he warns: “Don’t try this at home!”
The Guinness world record was first set by photographer and amateur stuntman Keith Malcolm back in 2009 in Hampshire and the latest record was set by American stuntman Ted Batchelor who broke the record in 2011 with a distance of 161.27 metres in December 2013.
To do the stunt Antony teamed up with Stannage International Stunt Team, the stunt team that worked with Keith on his initial record run, when temperatures were thought to reach up to 1,000deg C (1,832deg F). His stunt adviser was Mark Stannage from Stannage International.
Money raised by Tony's stunt go to the mental health charity Mind and Hope House children's hospice which is based near Oswestry in Shropshire. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/antonybritton