The Denver Post

Physically challenged Colorado teen attempting world-record plank time

By Kate Gibbons
April 18th, 2014 at 1:22:21 PM MDT
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Gabi Ury, 16, holds the plank position while nuzzling her dog Mia during a visit to the East Boulder Community Center to do a video-streaming test. Ury,

Gabi Ury, 16, holds the plank position while nuzzling her dog Mia during a visit to the East Boulder Community Center to do a video-streaming test. Ury, who has VATER syndrome, will attempt to break the record for the longest-held plank by a female on Saturday. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Gabi Ury wants a specific birthday gift — a world record.

Ury turned 16 Thursday, and while most kids turning her age clamor for a driver’s license, she has set her sights on breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest plank by a female.

Ury knows all about challenges. Ury has VATER syndrome, which causes abnormalities to the vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus, and renal organs.

“I’m super excited. I’ve even picked a spot in my room to hang the certificate if I do it,” Ury said.

For the past several months Ury has practiced holding a plank, an abdominal bridge with a straight back resting on her forearms and toes, at least 40 minutes every other day. Sometimes she goes longer if she “has extra time.”

“Boredom is a problem and distraction helps a lot,” Ury said. “I’ll watch Grey’s Anatomy on my phone or read a book.”

Born without multiple vertebrae at the bottom of her spine and missing calf muscles, the sophomore at the Dawson School in Lafayette has had 14 major surgeries to improve the function of her bladder, intestines, feet and other areas of her body affected by the syndrome.

She first planked when she was at volleyball tryouts unable to run a mile with other girls. A coach suggested she plank instead — she held it for 12 minutes.

“I was astonished the first time she did it,” volleyball coach Holly Novak said.

Novak has helped Ury train suggesting training routines that included shoulder, back and abdominal exercises.

“I have to give all the credit to Gabi on this,” Novak said. ” I have supplied some workouts but she has really gone after this record.”

The official record for a woman planking is 40 minutes and 1 second by Boise, Idaho mother of five, Eva Bulzomi. But Bulzomi unofficially smashed her own record last month with a time of 1 hour, five minutes and 18 seconds — Guinness is reviewing her submission.

Word of the new unofficial record came last week; Bulzomi sent Ury an e-mail so she wouldn’t stop after reaching the official time, Ury said.

In addition to beating the time, Ury’s attempt must have multiple timers and witnesses, and be videotaped from two angles in a quality high enough to see it in slow motion to verify she stays in the proper position.

Ury’s plank attempt isn’t just for her. She is raising money for Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she has had most of her surgeries. As of Friday she had raised more than $17,000.

Ury’s attempt will take place on Saturday afternoon in front of friends and family.

“I hope she smashes this record,” Novak said.


  1. Gabi did it! Watch what happened | Gabi planks - May 10, 2014

    […] Saturday, her attempt was featured on p. 2 in The Denver Post and on the front page of the Health and Science section of the Folha de São Paulo.  Her story and […]

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