Watching television non-stop for almost five days seemed to be an attainable goal for Monique Redhead.
As part of the new video-streaming Crave TV service promotional campaign, the Sunwing Airlines flight attendant was among six contestants selected for the Guinness World Record attempt for the longest TV-watching marathon.
Unfortunately, Redhead was forced to quit just seven hours short of the new binge viewing record of 91 hours. It surpassed the 90 hours set by Erik Pettersson in Sweden who watched Viaplay – Scandinavia’s leading online service for TV, film and sport – non-stop for 90 hours last May.
Beginning on December 8 at 1 p.m., the contestants watched selected Crave TV most popular programs in a booth outside the Bell Media Toronto headquarters. Participants were permitted a five-minute break for every hour of marathon watching completed and they could save the breaks and use them back-to-back at any point.
Meals, treats and health incentives were provided and emergency medical services personnel were on hand to check on the contestants’ health every two hours.
Redhead bowed out at 1:02 a.m. on December 12.
“Just after midnight, I felt cold and my feet were like they were in a very wet sock,” she said. “I tried wrapping my feet in a blanket, but that didn’t help. I was still cold and shaking to the point where I was convulsing and the medical guys advised me to use my half-hour break which I had accumulated. They told me to take a 20-minute nap which I did before going back into the booth. I was still shaking and very cold and I decided to walk out.
“When I woke up at around 6:30, it dawned on me that I didn’t complete the marathon. I was very disappointed because I was so close to finishing. I was in the homestretch and it’s still hard to digest that I didn’t get to the finish line. The mental fatigue from staying up that long finally got to me. That was all it was.”
Redhead had another reason to be disappointed.
Had the 29-year-old completed the marathon and set a new record, she would have received a $5,000 cash prize.
Redhead and Vancouver filmmaker, Devon Ferguson, were the only competitors who failed to finish the marathon. Ferguson dropped out at the 44-hour mark with health problems.
“I would compare the booth that we were in with an oversized aquarium,” said Redhead. “The temperature was not regulated. When it got too cold for some of us, heaters were brought in. When it became way too hot, some of us started to feel sleepy. A side door was opened for cold air to come in but that sudden rush of cold air was just too much for me.”
Despite not entering the record book, Redhead was delighted to be part of the marathon.
“I love challenges and reality shows appeal to me,” she said. “That’s why I was so excited when I was selected based on my TV interest and after physical and psychological tests which we all had to go through. In the beginning, it looked like breaking the world record was going to be a cake walk. I enjoy watching TV, but what I didn’t realize is that it would catch up with me mentally. That’s where I fell down and couldn’t get back up.”
The Cravers watched select season one episodes of the Sopranos, Entourage, Nurse Jackie, Star Trek: Next Generation, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Orphan Black, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Monty Python Flying Circus and Arrow.
Redhead said her favourites were Orphan Black, a Canadian scientific TV series and Arrow, an American TV series based on the DC Comics character, Green Arrow.
“Orphan Black was very interesting from a scientific standpoint and Arrow appealed to me even though I had never heard about the show prior to the contest,” said Redhead, a Georgetown University master’s graduate.
A Miss World Canada finalist four years ago, Redhead graduated from Father John Redmond Catholic School, where she was an outstanding basketball player, averaging 22 points, five steals and four assists in her senior year.
Accepting a basketball scholarship to Eastern Arizona College, she transferred after two years to Division One Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she obtained her first degree cum laude and was the first runner-up in the university’s Miss Caribbean pageant in 2008.
Redhead, who also played club basketball and was a program assistant with the South Etobicoke Youth Assembly prior to going to the U.S., was a Washington Wizards Sports & Entertainment intern in 2009, assisting with corporate marketing and sponsorship.