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Fierljeppen is pole vaulting like you’ve never seen before.

Fierljeppen, a dutch word that literally translates to “far leaping,” is a traditional sport originating in the Friesland province of The Netherlands. What appears to be a combination of the long jump and pole-vaulting, Fierljeppen consists of an athlete running full-speed towards a large pole. In one fell swoop, the athlete jumps at the pole and climbs as far up it as he can while the pole begins to tip over. At just the right moment, before the pole hits the ground, the athlete jumps off the pole in an attempt to travel as far as possible. The sport is thought to have originated from farmers using long poles to navigate around the sub-sea level terrain, which is littered with water-filled trenches.

Here are three record-breaking leaps, presented in order of increasing distance. The two men involved, Jaco de Groot and Bart Helmholt, manage to one up each other every year. The record of longest distance shifts between the two constantly.

Here’s Jaco de Groot in 2006, setting the stage for the battle between himself and Helmholt by leaping 20.41 meters. At the time, this was a new world record and an outstanding feat. Groot manages to put the pole in a perfect teetering position, giving himself enough time to climb as high as possible. By the end of it, his jump off the pole lands him nearly outside the designated landing box, naming him the world record champion.

After Helmholt broke his record, Groot managed to come back and reclaim the title. In 2009, Groot narrowly slipped by Hemlot’s jump of 20.76 meters with a distance of 20.79 meters. The crowd gasps as Groot’s pole nearly teeters the wrong way. He manages to continue climbing with a little bit of course correction every now and then. By the time Groot is at optimal jumping height, the pole is falling the correct way and he lands a perfect jump.

In 2009, Helmholt got the last laugh as he broke the world record with a 21.01-meter leap. He later went on to break his own record in 2011 by leaping 21.51 meters. Helmholt takes off and jumps at the pole with extreme velocity. He scales the pole, balancing momentum with direction, before making the championship leap. It’s only a matter of time before Groot steals the title back. Then, Helmholt will be back on his trail. Fierljeppen records were made to be broken.

Cover Photo Credit: Bertknot /

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