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New record for longest surfing marathon

Kurtis Loftus in the midst of his 29-hour surfing marathon. Courtesy photo

When 50-year-old Kurtis Loftus rode his last wave into a Jacksonville, Fla., beach around 8 p.m. on Oct. 27, he'd been surfing for 29 hours and 1 minute, setting the new world record for longest surfing marathon. Guinness is still reviewing Loftus' record.

Beating previous record-holder William Laity's 26 hours and 1 minute surf marathon, Loftus managed to catch a total of 313 waves -- 100 of those just in the first six hours. The goal was simple -- to surf in 10 three-hour sessions, with a 15-minute food and water break between each stint in the ocean. Loftus was on the beach and in the water for over 31 hours, surfing through the night and into the next day with sports drinks as his only fuel.

Though sponsors provided huge lamps to light up the beach during the night, there was little moonlight so it was difficult to see the waves before they crashed down on him. Loftus says he wasn't worried about lack of sleep. "I knew from the beginning that we planned this the right way and that it would come down to a battle of mind over body," Loftus told ESPN. "Every time my brain was telling me you can quit, Kurtis, I would tell it no."

Loftus' mission was to raise money for 26.2 With Donna, a U.S. marathon dedicated to raising funds to end breast cancer. Donna Deegan, a three-time breast cancer survivor and a long-time friend of Loftus, started the marathon five years ago. "I made a commitment five years ago to do everything in my power to help continue awareness, raise money, and grow this event," said Loftus.

This year, Loftus was drawing a blank in terms of fundraising ideas, that is, until he thought of this record-breaking concept. "I realized that I could combine two of my passions into something that is extraordinary," he said. With the help of friends, family, and clients, Loftus managed not only to break a record, but also to raise close to $13,000 in the process. People would pass by the beach, see Loftus' commitment, and write a check right then and there. Even Kelly Slater tweeted about Loftus' efforts.

"The cause became bigger for me when I realized the spirit of the people," Loftus said.