Columbus man sets new world barbecue marathon record

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comApril 27, 2014 

Jan Greeff of Columbus set a new world record Sunday for the longest barbecue marathon by an individual -- and during the 80 hours he was grilling, his 2-year-old daughter Abigail kept asking her mother the same question.

“Is daddy still cooking supper?”

Cooking under a white tent on a Broadway median, Greeff shattered the previous record of 62 hours and six minutes.

The smiling Greeff finished at 3 p.m.

On hand to verify that everything was done properly at the Grillathon was Philip Robertson, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, who presented Greeff with a certificate making the record official.

“It was amazing,” Robertson said. “He was like a machine. I don’t think he burned himself a single time.”

Robertson said that over the 80 hours, Greeff cooked 1,000 hot dogs, 200 pieces of corn, 104 pieces of chicken, 558 hamburgers and 526 pieces of boerewors, a type of sausage popular in South Africa.

Greeff, 29, the married father of two, is a native is of South Africa. At 18, he attended Columbus State University on a tennis scholarship. He recently became a U.S. citizen and works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.

There were always two witnesses at the cooking and a record of everything done was kept in a log book.

Robertson, who covers North America for Guinness, said about 77 percent of the record attempts he sees are successful.

Much of the food cooked went to places that help the needy such as Valley Rescue Mission and Open Door Community House. Greeff also gave away food to anyone stopping by.

He was accepting donations to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in honor of his father-in-law who died in 2007 due to complication of Type 1 Diabetes.

“I’m not sure but I think we raised about $10,000 which was my goal,” Greeff said.

Greeff said he even had a homeless person donate some money.

“He told me that the best part is giving,” Greeff said.

Did Greeff eat much of the food himself.?

“Just a bit every now and then,” he replied.

He said the weather was phenomenal for the event and he sat down often to keep up his energy.

Greeff was allowed few breaks, only five minutes per hour. Robertson said Greeff was allowed to accumulate some minutes and take e a longer break which Greeff usually did around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. Much of the food he cooked was donated by Char-Broil which also provided the grill.

“Barbecuing, known as a braai in South Africa, is part of daily life back home. It’s really the social aspect. When I came here , one of the very first things I did was get a grill,” Greeff said.

He said it was very challenging but good company made things easier.

Greeff said the idea of going for the record had been his head for a few years and it was during Thanksgiving last year that he decided to do it.

“My wife has been very supportive. Everyone has. Now, it's over," he said.

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