What's more painful than walking 165 feet across a bed of smoldering embers in a bid to set a world record for firewalking?

Being shown up by some guy who goes even farther.Physics professor David Willie's firewalking contest Thursday was intended to prove that the laws of thermal conductivity are what make it possible for people to walk across the flaming coals uninjured.

According to Willey, wood and charcoal, which are used to make the bed of embers, are such good insulators that it is possible for people to walk across them barefooted without being burned. So he strolled across a 165-foot bed of coals heated to 200 degrees.

Then a rival firewalker, Ilmar Saar, doubled that distance.

So Willey decided to try again, this time walking the length of the bed three times - for a tootsie-charring 495 feet.

Unlike Willey, Saar believes state of mind contributes to the ability to walk across coals uninjured.

"It's mind and matter," he said, his khaki pants still rolled up his calves. "Kind of like a `Let the force be with you' type of thing."

Willey, 50, said he was annoyed that Saar, 43, had upstaged him.