Breaking the world record: Junior Nitin Subramanian’s Rubik’s Cube run How an MVHS student shattered an unusual Guinness World Record

By Roshan Fernandez and Anish Vasudevan

77 cubes. 24 minutes, five seconds. On Jan. 21, while other students were spending their three-day weekend studying or relaxing, junior Nitin Subramanian spent his time attempting to break a world record for most Rubik’s Cubes solved while running 5,000 meters. The previous record was 40 — Subramanian shattered that record only halfway through his run. He stopped solving cubes not because he had completed the run, but because he had run out of cubes to solve.

The process of trying to break a Guinness World Record is gruesome and tiring, filled with waiting periods and occasionally unfortunate news. In June of 2018, Subramanian discovered the Rubik’s Cube mile — an event where participants were tasked to solve four cubes in four laps. He then set out to break the world record, even completing the Rubik’s Cube mile, but Guinness denied his request to recognize the attempt. However, in September, Subramanian decided to try for another record, which mixed his two favorite hobbies: long-distance running and solving Rubik’s Cubes.

Subramanian broke the previous record of 40 Rubik's Cubes when he was less than halfway through his 5,000 meter run. Photo by Anish Vasudevan.

After receiving confirmation from Guinness in November of 2018, Subramanian started planning the details of the run. He had to find city council officials to serve as witnesses due to Guinness rules and also recruit timers for the attempt. Vice-mayor of Cupertino Liang Chao and Commissioner David Fung were the two officials who attended the event.

Although most of the event required rigorous preparation, the actual planning of the run itself took place the night before the attempt. The team had to brainstorm how they would utilize a cart to hand Subramanian the next cube, and come up with a plan in case the cart malfunctioned. At 10 p.m. on the night before the attempt, Subramanian says they practiced the logistics of the setup with a car and two people sitting in the trunk. The trial was somewhat successful, but Subramanian admitted they hadn’t smoothed out all the details just yet.

On the day of the run, Subramanian and the volunteers decided that they would need some unique contraptions in order to have the most efficiency while running. They used household items which would help decrease the transition time between each cube. Senior Karthik Guruvayurappan also ran alongside Subramanian during the race to collect his solved cubes.

Subramanian runs alongside the cart which athletic trainer Javier Margarito was driving. Subramanian had to 25 minutes to complete the 5,000 meter run and he finished in 24 minutes and five seconds. Photo by Roshan Fernandez.

“We decided that Karthik would not be on the cart but he would be [running] next to me with a laundry basket [where I could drop the cubes],” Subramanian said. “We decided that if [the basket] was stationary in one place I would be able to aim better. And that we would use a cooking strainer [to hold the cube] when I reach out because there would be a margin of error if I reached for that and missed.”

Senior Anisha Sinha was on the track during Subramanian’s attempt to help with timing as well as making announcements over the PA system about his progress. She explains that she admires his uniqueness amongst his peers.

“The thing that sets Nitin apart from most other people at MVHS and in general is his self-drive and the fact that he is such a goal oriented person,” Sinha said. “He decides the passion that he has and he continues to pursue them even if they are not academically relevant. He has a passion for cubing and a passion for running and he found something, a goal, that managed to fit both of them which is really difficult for people to do."

The crowd applauds as Subramanian runs by for his final lap of the 5,000 meter run. Photo by Roshan Fernandez.

Subramanian dedicated his attempt to all of his teachers, explaining that they inspired him to push himself and try something like this even if he would not succeed.

“It’s this feeling that very few people get to feel, that I am best in the world at something,” Subramanian said. “I know it’s a really random [record] but its combining two of my favorite things, cubing and running, and to be on top of the world is overwhelming. All the support and encouragement from my family and friends is why I was able to [achieve] that.”

Subramanian poses for a large group photo with a couple Rubik's Cubes after breaking the record. Photo by Anish Vasudevan.

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