SHELTON, CT—Ever since Alex Bryce was a boy, he has dreamed of participating in a TV marathon. Now, at age 26, he is days from making that dream a reality.
This weekend's Sanford And Son marathon on TV Land is the ultimate test of a watcher's endurance, and Bryce plans to watch the entire 48-hour event, which comprises 96 half-hour episodes with two-minute commercial checkpoints at 11-minute intervals.
"Marathons are exhausting, but exhilarating," said Bryce, who has completed four prestigious TV mini-marathons, including the grueling "Ab Fab Friday." "Afterwards, my muscles are stiff and my eyes are bloodshot, but it's always worth it."
Bryce, a recreational TV watcher whose personal best is 16 hours, has been on a strict training regimen for six months. He wakes up daily at 5 a.m., slips on his sweats, and immediately hits the couch to watch television. On hard training days, he watches Sanford And Son DVDs.
"I'm always tempted to get up off the couch or fast-forward, but I remind myself that every time I cheat, it hurts my chances on the big day," Bryce said. "When I feel my resolve slipping, I recline as much as I can or cover myself with a cushion. That usually does the trick."
Bryce added: "But the best thing a marathoner can do to delay the onset of discomfort is begin properly, by warming up with a hot bowl of chili and stretching out on the couch."
Bryce underscored the importance of carbo-loading and regular hydration, saying, "I don't want to be like that guy who passed out during the Happy Days marathon because he hadn't been drinking enough Mountain Dew."
"Doritos, pizza, M&M's, Yoo-hoo: anything that doesn't require you to go to the fridge," Bryce said. "Right now, I can barely move. So I'm right where I want to be."
The repetitiveness of the Sanford And Son marathon course, which includes 97 feigned heart attacks, 165 utterances of the word "dummy," and 44 appearances by ugly old Aunt Esther, frequently drives seasoned watchers to drop out prematurely. To minimize the risk of failure, Bryce has been mentally preparing himself for the weekend's trial.
"I visualize myself sitting still through the tougher parts [of the marathon], so I don't lose focus and change channels during a cameo by Lena Horne," Bryce said.
Veteran TV marathoner Andrew Lederle predicted that Bryce may have trouble lasting through season two's laborious exchanges between Fred and his friend Bubba Bexley. If Bryce can weather that stretch, Lederle said, he could very well experience the storied "watcher's high" around the third season, when the show really hits its stride.
"Hopefully he'll catch his second wind right around 'Ol' Brown Eyes,' when Fred is convinced that the engraved ring Lamont got him was actually stolen from Frank Sinatra," Lederle said. "It's all downhill from there."
Bryce is currently taking a few "recovery days" in preparation for the grueling marathon.
"Once I make it through, I'll know I've accomplished something incredible," Bryce said.
Bryce added: "This is the big one."