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Most people don’t aspire to be couch potatoes, but Alex Pyzik, 24, of Bel Air, wanted to be Baltimore’s ultimate couch potato.

Beginning Friday, New Year’s Day, Pyzik participated in Baltimore’s second annual Ultimate Couch Potato competition at the Inner Harbor’s ESPN Zone. The event was a part of ESPN Zone’s 2010 Ultimate Couch Potato competition, which also took place in New York and Chicago.

“The contest itself is really an endurance competition to see who can watch televised sports for the longest period of time,” Leigh Friedman, regional marketing manager for ESPN Zone, said. “It really does take a lot of strategy to prepare for it. They’re really thinking things through of how to pull out the longest.”

Last year, Pyzik, who is six feet tall and weighs in at 160 pounds, five pounds lighter than last year, was the runner-up to Jessica Mosley, 26, from Arlington, Va. The duo watched 70 consecutive hours of televised sports and unofficially beat the previous world record held by Suresh Joachim, who watched 69 hours and 48 minutes, in the process.

Pyzik said he entered this year to beat Mosley.

“I wanted a vengeance,” Pyzik said. “I was trying to see if I could beat Jessica this year.”

While Mosley won again this year, Pyzik came in third.

“I just started a new job yesterday [Monday],” Pyzik, an IT support specialist in Hunt Valley, said. “I wanted to be fresh.”

The competition began at 11 a.m. on Friday with four finalists. Chad Jones, 35, of Fort Meade, lasted 19 hours after his wife went into labor. Pyzik watched 24 hours of television and the runner-up, Chris Dachille, 30, of Timonium, watched for 33 hours, making Mosley the winner.

“There was less of an adrenaline rush because I knew what to expect going into it,” Pyzik said.

As Baltimore’s Ultimate Couch Potato, Pyzik won a leather recliner, one year of free cable or satellite TV service courtesy of ESPN Zone and $1,000 in gift certificates and game cards to ESPN Zone, according to Friedman.

But there are no hard feelings between Pyzik and Mosley.

“There’s no hostility,” Pyzik said. “Jessica and I knew each other. The other two competitors were new. There was trash talking in the beginning. But it was all in good fun.”

As part of competition rules, the contestants were only allowed a five-minute break every hour to stretch and a 15-minute break every eight hours to walk around, go outside and visit the restroom.

Pyzik said he favored the rum carrot cake for a sugar fix when he began to slump.

Last year, Pyzik and Mosley received $100 in gift cards to ESPN Zone and leather recliners. Mosley won a 42-inch LCD television and two round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the United States.

Pyzik practiced for this year’s competition by sitting in his prize recliner for hours on end playing his Xbox.

“There was nothing really unusual,” Pyzik said of the competition. “It was unusual it ended so quickly after going 70 hours last year. I did 24 hours, decided to hang out for a day and called it quits.”

Friedman said Mosley plans to return next year to defend her title and earn a three-peat victory.

“She said she’ll be back and ready to go,” Friedman said. “We definitely plan to keep it going. It’s a fun way to start the year. We decided on New Year’s Day because there are endless [college football] bowl games and so much going on.”

Sports fans interested in competing next year, Friedman suggested they visit www.espnzone.com later in the year for more information on how to apply.

“Each year, we invite sports fans to apply. In the application, they explain why they are the ultimate couch potato,” Friedman said. “We narrow it down based on their creativity and the knowledge of sports they show. We found some die-hards who will keep watching no matter what.”

But the competition isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“It’s a matter of showing us your passion for sports and competitive spirit,” Friedman said. “Once you’re selected, we’re thinking through how you’re going to last. It’s harder than it looks.”

While Pyzik has resolved not to compete next year, he has a warning for potential coach potatoes.

“Don’t underestimate her. She’s taken down five guys now,” Pyzik said, referring to Mosley. “It’s a lot more active than people may think. It’s not so much passive. Be prepared for Jessica.”


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