The following is an abbreviated version of an interview done in September/October,
2002, with ''Bicycling''.
''Coach Rob Powell set the Guinness World Record the for fitness by essentially, cramming, two weeks of workouts into one day. Beginning at noon on October 27-28, 2001, he Swam 2 Miles of laps, he climbed out, wrapped his feet in black duct tape, pulled on a pair of Nikes and paced only by his dog, Wolf, Ran 12 Miles of trails along the Brazos River. He then he Hiked 12 Miles, did 1,250 Push-ups, 1,250 Leg Lifts, and 1,250 Jumping Jacks.
Before sunrise, he then Biked 110 Miles, Rowed 20 Miles, on a Concept 2 Rowing Machine, and strode 20 Miles on an Elliptical trainer. He finished by doing 3,250 Abdominal Crunches, and he then reached for the steel, lifting 300,000 Pounds, in a combination of Bench Press, Lat Pulls, Seated Row, Triceps Extension, and Curls.
He finished the 11 events in 22 hours, 11minutes and 40 seconds, shattering Joe Decker's' Old world record, and setting a New Guinness World Record.
The next morning, he arrived at his teaching job at 8 sharp, as if he'd spent the weekend on the sofa watching football.
That much about his drive and toughness, I already know. I also know he's planning an attempt to lower his own World Record in 6 weeks.
We started our run with a fast pace, to me, I am sure he's gone out too fast, and will soon back off.
Despite his extreme endurance training, Coach Powell is thickly muscled and buff, looking more like a ''Bronc-Buster'' than the handsome guy who's biked the 450 Mile Natchez Trace, in 3 days.... did I just call this guy handsome?
He has a smile as bright as his bright red truck, and with his closely cropped dark hair and faintly First American features, Coach Powell is a dead ringer for Billy Jack, the hero in those Indian-Reservation Action Flicks.
To my surprise, and distress, I soon discover that Coach Powell, for all his beef, is a light footed-runner who gobbles ground easily. Instead of downshifting, he accelerates. By the 2nd Mile, we're running 7:45. 'You swing your arms a little off', Coach Powell comments, as I struggle to stay with him. I start to retort, but out of courtesy, I take his advice, and bring my elbows in.
'You might want to throw your shoulders back a little', Coach Powell adds encouragingly. Again, I give it a try. Soon I am breathing easier, and added 6 inches to my stride.
The trail turns from gravel to dirt, and even though we are picking our way over jutting roots and hard curves, Coach Powell takes it up to 7:30 per mile. This is usually my limit, however, because of Coach Powell's advice, I am breathing easier and cruising comfortably.
'Hey, great eye,' I say gratefully. Who wouldn't want to run with a guy who can analyze, diagnose and correct your biomechanics in less than 8 minutes? And do it graciously, tossing off chips of advice that sound nonchalant, but are dead on the money.
While cycling, a 2 foot rattlesnake, crosses the road ahead of us, I hit the brakes, shitless, but Coach Powell is cool. He dismounts, gets behind the snake and expertly grabs it behind the neck, and tosses it off the road, and into the grass.
'You could have done it too,' he says, being as careful not to damage my feelings as he was with the snake.
At that moment, he's not only a man I like, but a man I'd like to be....strong, expert and thoughtful.
While cycling on a stretch of road, snarling, Pitt Bulls approach. Coach Powell leaps off his bike, speaks to them, calmed them down, and is soon scratching them behind the ears.
When I asked him earlier, about any nicknames, he told me an Austin news/photographer group called him, ' The Texas Tarzan'. After seeing how he is with animals during this ride, this guy really is Tarzan.
Being a Fitness, and Martial Arts Expert, are the only things that separate him from his fellow teachers.
On October 26-27, 2002, he performed his second, Guinness World Record, this time completing the same task in 19 Hours 17 Minutes and 38 Seconds, smashing his old record by nearly 3 hours.
One of his old friends , Randy Hodges, came down to watch Coach Rob Powell in action. Randy brought along his 13 year old son, James. 'I told my son James to watch him good, because he would never see another feat like this one again in his life.' ''