Who is Nik Wallenda? Many people prior to his tightrope stunt didn’t know much about this seventh-generation aerialist. The great grandson of Karl Wallenda who died while performing a stunt in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nik started his professional tight rope walking career at the age of 13. While most kids are just beginning to understand Algebra, Nik was cheating death, just like his ancestors before him. Wallenda considered becoming a doctor, and was accepted into college but his plans changed in 1998. At the age of 19, he participated in a re-creation of Karl Wallenda’s seven-person pyramid on a high-wire in Detroit, Michigan, alongside his father, mother, and other family members. Afterwards, he decided to make a career of it.
In 2008, Wallenda set a Guinness World Record for the longest and highest bicycle ride on a high-wire 135 feet above the ground in New Jersey. He nearly doubled the height record in 2010 to 260 feet. On that very same day he upped his personal best by tightrope walking over 2,000 feet in a single performance. In 2011, Nik Wallenda set a world record by performing on the Wheel of Death atop of the 23 story Tropicana Casino and Resort. Later in the year, Wallenda and his mother tightrope walked between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico. The feat was a re-creation of the one that had killed Nik’s great-grandfather and his primary source of inspiration.
On June 23, 2013, he became the first person to high-wire walk across a Grand Canyon area gorge (crossing the Little Colorado River outside Grand Canyon National Park).
On November 2, 2014, Wallenda had a televised tightrope walk event right here in Chicago. He successfully completed two tightrope walks, the second while blindfolded. He set two new Guinness world records, one for walking the steepest tightrope incline between two buildings and the other for the highest tightrope walk while blindfolded.
Being at the event in person, and watching something so magnificent live, was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It seemed as if he ran across the tight rope during his first walk, from Marina City’s west tower to the Leo Burnett Building, some 50 stories high above the Chicago River. It what seemed like an eternity actually took him six-minutes and 52 seconds. Nik finished the second walk blind from the west tower to the east tower in one-minute and 20 seconds. What an incredible feat.
I’m still in awe of the fact Nik Wallenda completed this stunt and I got to witness a master at work.
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