For those of you looking to tackle an ultra race and see a bit of the world at the same time, here's our 2020 calendar of ultradistance races, featuring races from places as far and wide as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and New Zealand. Of course, our perennial favourites are still there, including the Ten and Six Day race and the 3100 Mile Race (both in New York) but maybe this year some people might be up for something new - for example, how about ringing in the New Year in 2021 by running the 24 hour race in Smolensk, Russia which starts on 31 December and ends on 1 January?
Featured stories from around the world
Sri Chinmoy's blend of sport and spirituality is starting to appear in some interesting places!
We here at the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team definitely believe that sport is something beyond mere competition and beating the other guy into the dust - it can actually be a key part of one's self-discovery and finding true meaning in life. It is something our race founder and spiritual Teacher, Sri Chinmoy, advocated for many years, and we must admit we do find it kind of nice when we see people appreciating that philosophy in various places! Here are some such instances in recent months:
1. Rise of the Ultrarunners
Dean Karnazes called this book the the definitive book on ultra running today, and it made quite a few sports-books-of-the-year shortlists in 2019. The author, Adharanand Finn, previously wrote a nice article in the Guardian about our 24 hour race in London, and then as part of his research into this book came back the next year to do the race himself.
“This race holds a bizarre fascination for me. I love the way it merges the mundane with the epic, people attempting mind-boggling feats not out in the Himalayas or the depths of the jungle, but on a running track in Tooting in south London. It shows that you don’t have to go to the far corners of the Earth to find adventure, enlightenment, craziness, or whatever it is we’re all seeking, but that it exists everywhere if you just open your eyes.” (quote from the book)
His story of the race takes up a whole chapter (chapter 11, if you're interested) and is not only an amazing story of his own reaching the point where he considers quitting, but then breaks through into a whole other level of experience, but is also an extremely touching tribute to the many ordinary extraordinary people who also did the race with him, some of them in their seventies. The book tracks his running journey through many other ultradistance races, and at the same time opens a window for the uninitiated into the whole weird and wonderful world of ultrarunning itself. The book can be purchased on Amazon here...
2. Runner's tribe
In his January 10, 2020 column in Runnerstribe.com, Matt Fitzgerald (author of books such as The Endurance Diet and 80/20 Running) explores famous marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge's philosophy on running:
"There’s nothing unique about Kipchoge in this regard. Endurance racing is a spiritual experience for many athletes. Indeed, it’s almost impossible for a spiritually sensitive person to experience endurance racing non-spiritually, which is why spiritual leaders including Sri Chinmoy, an Indian-born advocate of meditation and running influential in the U.S. in the late 20th century, have promoted it even to nonathletes. “The inner running and the outer running complement each other,” Chinmoy wrote. “For outer running, we need discipline. Without a life of discipline, we cannot succeed in any walk of life. So when we do outer running, it reminds us of the inner running.” For the complete article...
Impossibility Challenger was an event founded in 1982 by Sri Chinmoy with the idea to give people the chance to transcend their limitations and make an effort to set a new world record or personal best. The event is organised by members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre and, in the past few decades, has been held in several cities around the world The unique event attracts a diverse range of participants who are keen to test themselves in the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of 'Impossibility Challenger'.
This years edition was held in Den Haag, Netherlands, and attracted a range of record breakers from quickest time to solve a Rubik's cube and tests of memory - to physical challenges such as the fastest running whilst skipping.
Video of the event
Sri Chinmoy encouraged this event because he felt that the personal effort and discipline of trying to better oneself could give a more meaningful understanding of our latent capacities and this effort to reach new achievements would give a genuine sense of happiness. Sri Chinmoy often described this effort of challenging ourself as a philosophy of 'self-transcendence'.
Either forget impossibility’s challenge
Or challenge impossibility’s pride
To become truly happy.
- Sri Chinmoy
At this year's event, one of the participants was Ashrita Furman, who holds the Guinness World Record for having the most world records. In a record-breaking career, since 1979, he has set over 700 Guinness Records and currently holds more than 200. At this event, he set a new record for cutting 59 kiwis in a minute and also - completing 66 rounds of juggling a burning torch, within one minute.
The event attracted a range of self-transcendence feats - including push-ups, paper folding, skipping, sack racing and fastest one-handed hand-clap. It also included an epic feat of poetry recital. American Mahiruha Klein recited, over a period of several hours, 1,000 poems of Sri Chinmoy from the poetry series "The Golden Boat" He later commented that he recited from memory 965 absolutely correct, with just a few slips in the other 35 poems. For Mahiruha, the long period of the recital was not about the outer display of memory, but a very rewarding inner experience to become immersed in a world of spiritual poetry.
The event attracted substantial media coverage from the local Dutch press who covered the unique challenges of the event.
- Impossibility Challenger website
Recently, quite a few national records were set at our 48-hour race in Vinnytsia, including 370 km for the first-placed man. 52 athletes participated from all over Europe - mainly from the Ukraine but also from other countries such as Moldova and Belarus and even from as far away as Luxembourg and Sweden.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team also had a stand at this year's Wizzair Kyiv City Marathon Expo, where 17,000 participants came for starter packs. We had a great time interacting with all the runners, providing them with Sri Chinmoy's books, videos, and flyers for our coming events!
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in Australia has continued to be as active as ever during the winter months Down Under. Melbourne’s popular race series drew large crowds while Brisbane is also in the act with a suite of race venues gathering momentum - they recently had their largest race field, with over 300 finishers!
The oldest event on the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team calendar in Australia is the 24-Hour race, which has been staged for 39 years variously in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Campbelltown (south of Sydney). The most recent edition was held in Campbelltown in June, featuring a 12-Hour, 6-Hour and Marathon races in lanes 3 and 4 in addition to the marquee 24 Hour event staged in lanes 1 and 2, the track was abuzz with energy and excitement with 100 runners going through their paces at various times of the day.
That race was the final instalment of this race in Campbelltown, as it will now be incorporated into a brand new format...
Mark down 20–22 March 2020 in your diary as the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team will stage the 48 Hour Track Festival at the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport Track in Canberra. The Festival will revolve around a 48-Hour track race and will also include the 24-Hour race and a 6-Hour races as well as a Midnight Marathon, Half-Marathons and “Saturday Night at the Track” (a track meet under lights with distances ranging from 1,000 metres to 10,000 metres). The evening before the races kick off, after runners have enjoyed their welcome dinner at “My Rainbow-Dreams” cafe, we will have the Australian premiere of the hit ultrarunning film 3100: Run and Become with director Sanjay Rawal in attendance in a special outdoor screening.
On 12 October, our annual two-mile 'Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden Run' took place at the site of the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, New York. The aim of the race is to celebrate Sri Chinmoy's belief that sport can be a vehicle for personal transformation and can make a small contribution to a better world. Also, the run is in memory of Sri Chinmoy, who loved the park very much.
The race is very much run in a spirit of appreciating the joy of running. After the two-mile race, there was a short peace walk with the Peace Torch - a torch carried by Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run to over 160 countries around the world. This short walk and ceremony gave everybody the opportunity to share in the Peace Run's message of oneness.
During this year's event, participants from all other the world were joined by several special guests and friends who shared their thoughts and wishes for creating a better world. We were joined by Ida Keeling, a 104 year old sprinter and former Bronx Borough President. Ida recently broke the world record for women aged 100-104 for the 100m sprint, completing the distance in 1 minute and 17.33 seconds (WR link). Still vibrant with life-energy, Ida is an inspiring example of Sri Chinmoy's philosophy of self-transcendence and never quitting because of age. After the race, she shared her secrets of old age, which involve eating well, staying positive and doing daily exercise. Ida was accompanied by her daughter Shelley Keeling, who is an accomplished masters athlete and who is the one who introduced her mother to sprinting. Shelley recently 2 Gold medals and 1 Bronze at the recent European masters games at the age of 68.
Also speaking at the event were Nadirah and Askia Muhammad from the Jamaica area of Queens, New York. Dr. Askia Muhammad is an imam who ministers to the Muslim community in Jamaica and is President of the Ummah Group, an organization dedicated to interfaith dialogue and spiritual development. He shared a very powerful opening prayer during the event. The Muhammads are parents of current 400m hurdles Olympic and world champion Dalilah Muhammad - asked about the success of his daughter, Dr. Askia modestly replied his greatest success was not to interfere with her God-given gifts - but only to gently encourage and support her daughter's decisions. Dalilah won the gold medal at the recent 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, setting the current world record with a time of 52.16 seconds.
We also were delighted to welcome our long-time friend Coach Jim Hurt, Head Track and Field Coach of nearby St. John’s University. Coach Hurt has spent 36 years with the St John's track and field and crosscountry teams (the Red Storm); 29 of those years were as head coach, and he has had a tremendous amount of success in those years. Our final guest was Ms. Najibe Burger, who has served the Queens community in so many capacities - she is currently on the boards of the Queens Council of the Arts and the Queens Family Court, as well as being the President of Latin American Cultural Center of Queens.
Flushing Meadows Park has a very special connection with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, having played host to our running events since the late 1970s and our multi-day ultra-races since the 1980s. On October 11, 2006, exactly one year before Sri Chinmoy's physical passing, this iconic section of Flushing Meadows Park was dedicated by the New York Parks department as the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden to celebrate the legacy and vision for world peace that Sri Chinmoy had encouraged.
Sri Chinmoy felt that sport and running gave us the outer dynamism and the inner aspiration to transcend our previous achievements. He also saw sport as an opportunity to promote happiness and goodwill amongst competitors.
"In competitive sports, our primary aim should be not to surpass others but constantly to surpass ourselves. In the outer life, when we run with our friends, we are seeing who is actually the best. And we cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. But we compete not for the sake of defeating others, but in order to bring forward our own capacity."
- Sri Chinmoy
A pioneer in combining spirituality and sports, Sri Chinmoy felt that breaking the sub 2 hour barrier would have be a very significant victory for mankind, and many times over the years he would express his hope and his conviction that it would happen. Here is a selection of some of the things Sri Chinmoy said over the years:
"Name and fame in marathon running was first won for America by Frank Shorter. Frank Shorter really shook America out of its lethargy or complacent feeling. It was he who made the start. Now, people are running faster and faster. It will take at most five years, perhaps even less, for someone to run a marathon under two hours. How I wish that one of my disciples would do it! It is wishful thinking, but sometimes dreams come true. My disciples have an advantage because they have spirituality behind their running. If I were twenty years old, I would try it." 25 October 1982
"Often people say they will never run a marathon again. During or after the race they say that this is their last marathon. Then after four days they start thinking about their next marathon.
In ten or twenty years, people will regard the marathon the way we regard a ten-mile race today. People will consider forty miles or seventy miles or a hundred miles as long distance. Long distances will be as popular as the marathon is today. People will pay more attention to fifty-milers and hundred-milers.
Now people are doing so well in the marathon. In four or five years the best runners will run the marathon in under two hours. In twenty or thirty years people will run at a five-minute pace for fifty or a hundred miles. The children of people who are running the marathon now will run at the present marathon pace for thirty or forty miles, and then even farther. They will have such stamina. Sports are like that. Roger Bannister’s four-minute-mile record lasted for years. Then the hundred-metre record stayed for years. Jesse Owens’ long-jump record stayed for twenty years before it was broken by Bob Beamon. But ultimately all records are broken." 24 January 1983
"In the New York Marathon, the first mile is horrible for everybody. Then, from the second mile, the lead runners go really fast. This year Steve Jones ran 2:08:23, but Salazar’s record is still 13 seconds better. Somebody has to come from Africa and break the record. Under two hours — I envision it. Somebody will run under two hours." 6 November 1988
"My prophecy! Once I said that some day some runners would run the marathon in under two hours. A divine force spoke through me. Alas, something always reminds me inwardly. Again, while facing the Berlin Wall, I prophesied that in twenty-five years the Wall would be demolished and there would be one Berlin. In just two years, President Gorbachev fulfilled my desire! With regard to the marathon, God knows when it will happen; but still I maintain the same desire and the same promise that one day somebody will come, perhaps from Africa, to do it. It is not an impossible task.
One mile in under four minutes was a dream, and Roger Bannister manifested the dream. Now, how many people have run a mile in under four minutes? Someone has run in 3:44. When Roger Bannister ran in just under four minutes, the whole world adored him. Now someone has run two miles in under eight minutes. It is unimaginable! Like that we can do many things." 5 November 1997
Question: During the twenty-first century, will anybody break the two-hour marathon barrier?
Sri Chinmoy: How I wish the twenty-first century to prove my prophecy that someone will run a marathon in under two hours! For that I need a disciple who has implicit faith in me. I find it very difficult to believe that our human capacity is limited. Right now the world record for the marathon is 2:06. Just six minutes to reduce over twenty-six miles! Unfortunately, human beings always think, “My capacity, my capacity.” If the same world-class runners could say, “My capacity is coming from God. God is running in and through me,” and really mean it, then you would see surprising results. There are at least twenty world-class marathon runners. If they could have that kind of faith, you would hear in one month that the world record has been smashed.
...God has given each of us certain capacities. I may not be a runner, but somebody else may be a runner. I may be a singer, but somebody else may not be a singer. If anyone wants to increase his capacity in his own field, then he must have God-reliance, not self-reliance. Only then will his capacity become unlimited. Now our capacity is limited because we feel we are doing everything — we are taking this exercise and that exercise. We give ninety-nine per cent of the credit to what our mind is telling us and our life is prompting us to do. But if we can give one hundred per cent of the credit to God for whatever we are doing that is good and positive in our life, then our capacities will become unlimited. 25 February 1999 - Complete quote...
"Paul Tergat, the world’s fastest marathoner, covered the distance in two hours, four minutes. His record is four minutes over two hours, so my prediction is still hanging in mid-air! I am praying that one day he or somebody else will run under two hours. Whoever runs under two hours will be given by me a very special honour, plus I shall meet with his plane fare and all his expenses, whether he comes from Kenya or anyplace else. I shall honour him most lovingly, cheerfully and proudly. Who knows, who knows? There will be someone in the near future. I do not want to say in the distant future — no! In the near future, someone will be able to fulfil my prediction." 14 October 2005
These quotes were excerpted from Sri Chinmoy's books Run and Become, Become and Run, parts 12 and 13; Sri Chinmoy answers, part 24; The Feet of the Supreme's Compassion and My Golden Children. These books are available to read in full at srichinmoylibrary.com; hardback editions of the Run and Become, Become and Run and Sri Chinmoy answers series can be purchased on Amazon.
On a sunny day in Glendale, California more than 100 masters-category athletes showed up to walk, run, throw, vault and jump at our annual Sri Chinmoy Masters Games event. Perhaps the most notable result was the new American record set in the 800-meter race by 91-year-old Gunnar Linde from Venice,CA. His time of 4:15:95 shaved some 24 seconds off the previous age-group (90-94) record set in 1989!
The remarkably fit athletes completed sprints, hurdles, middle distance events, a 5000-meter race walk, pole vault, long jump, high jump, pole vault, javelin, discus, and shotput. While one or two events were enough for some of the competitors, a brave group of seven men contested a pentathlon comprising 200 meters, 1500 meters, long jump, javelin, and discus. The results were inspiring, proving yet again that determination trumps age.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team extends a sincere thank you to the athletes, volunteers, and officials. We'll see you next year!
We had about 500 runners at this year’s Self-Transcendence Rockland Lake Marathon. After the race, dozens of runners posted their experiences in various places online. Many of the comments gave a sense that the runners were drawn to this particular race for inner reasons, sometimes without quite knowing why. One wrote that while our marathon isn’t the wildest or loudest, we have something serene that’s beyond words—and this atmosphere is really conducive to transcendence.
As well as founding our Marathon Team and being an avid sprinter and long distance runner, Sri Chinmoy was also well known for his feats of weightlifting, which included honouring people for their service to humanity by lifting them overhead using a specially constructed apparatus. Between 1988 and 2007, he honoured over 8,000 people in this manner - people like Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, but also . He once said that everyone who came to be lifted had an inner expectation of having a spiritual experience - and then Sri Chinmoy added that he never disappointed them. We get the feeling that people who come to our races also receive a similar kind of fulfilment.
We should note that dozens of runners commented how grateful they were to our medical team. Nowhere else, they mentioned, could a non-elite runner get such a high-quality post-race massage! Not only did our amazing crew soothe their muscles, but in many cases, runners received performance and nutrition advice!
We actually recognized a number of the runners not just from their participation in past Sri Chinmoy Marathons in Rockland Lake State Park, but because they also had visited the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race held in Queens this summer. There was even one runner who had entered a number of our monthly Rainbow Marathons that we held in the 1980s! As a side note, a number of the outside runners had also seen the recent documentary 3100: Run And Become, which chronicles the 3100 Mile Race and the spiritual significance of ultrarunning around the world. A few people gasped with joy when they saw Shamita Achenbach-König – one of the stars of the movie – on the course running the marathon! A number of folks took pictures of her for their collections and a few got to say hello to her as she passed them.
After 52 days of self-transcendence, this year's Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race drew to a close with seven of the eight runners completing 3100 miles within the allotted time. Between them, the eight intrepid runners covered a total of 27,577 miles or 50,252 laps of the humble 0.5488 mile loop located in the Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens, New York.
For the outsider looking in, these statistics only give a partial insight into this unique race, which is a test of physical, mental and spiritual fortitude. During this summer, the runners had to contend with two mini-heatwaves which sent temperatures soaring to almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Cesius). Yet every morning at 6 am, the runners came to the start line to begin their inner and outer quest towards personal self-transcendence. The race has no sponsorship or financial rewards; each runner and helper must give up their own time to take on this unique challenge. Asked why they come to the race, the runners hint at an inner satisfaction which can be gained from pushing themselves to the limits of what they think is possible.
“I think so often in our lives, that we fashion ourselves to be well within our comfort zone. It is only when you challenge those comfort zones that you find real fulfillment, but some times you can trick yourself into what a real challenge is. This race is definitely a real challenge. It brings out a lot of things in me that are challenging but also so extremely rewarding.” - Harita Davies
Each individual runner undertakes his/her personal journey, but the race has also inspired many people around the world, who are captivated by the simplicity yet dauntless nature of this challenge. The race has been featured on many international news outlets, such as the BBC, Wall Street Journal and NZ's News Now - and this media coverage and online coverage has inspired many to follow the race and pick up on the inspiration of those running in New York.
Race director Rupantar Larusso says that this year there have been innumerable visitors to the race who came for a short time to visit out of curiosity. He says that in many cases, the visitors from around the world ended up spending much longer than planned because they felt a very special atmosphere at the race.
Another reason for the heightened interest in this year's race is the recent release of a documentary film based on this race (and other ultra-distance events) called 3100: Run and Become. For example, after a screening in New York City, the film director Sanjay Rawal described how a few young athletes left immediately to go and see the race and runners in action.
During the race, many runners recorded some kind of personal best or new achievement. For the overall winner, Asprihanal Aalto, it was his 15th finish and 9th time overall win Although off his course record, he was happy to finish another race, despite arriving with little training. Despite suffering heatstroke mid-race, 2nd place Nirbhasa Magee, set a new personal best of 48 days+09:04:57 and with it a new Irish record. Speaking about one of the motivations for running, he said of the race:
“You have to sense that the race is your job. That while you are here, you are inspiring so many people. That you are doing something beneficial. You need a sense of dedication to that purpose.” - Nirbhasa Magee
Vasu Duzihy has won the past two races, and this year finished in 3rd place in a time of 49 days+06:13:17. One of this year's most remarkable stories was Ananda-Lahiri Zuscin, who has started the race 15 times, making him one of the most prolific entrants - and yet has not managed to complete the 3100 mile distance in over 10 years. This year he managed to finish the race with some exceptional days of 80+ miles (including one day of 89 miles!). In addition, Smarana Puntigam finished in 5th place, coming back to successfully complete the race after his last two attempts in 2017 and 2018 fell agonisingly short.
Harita Davies was the only woman in the race, and she managed to also set a new personal best and New Zealand record. She summed up the attitude needed to complete such a daunting challenge.
"A huge part of the experience of this race is to just keep going forward. When challenges arise you face them and try to figure them out. Do your best and have faith, that everything will work out.” - Harita Davies
First-time entrant Todor Dimitrov faced a real baptism of fire. With six days to go, injuries and sickness had left him 32 miles off the cut-off pace. Yet he kept going to the end and finished with just a couple of hours to spare. Speaking at the end, Todor said:
"The race was a great transformative experience. Thank you all here. It makes me to feel the world is going in a good direction. To proceed with that good direction. So happy to know the runners who helped me to finish. " - Todor Dimitrov
Ushika Muckenhumer faced innumerable challenges in the race with getting injured in the early part of the race. But, his battling spirit kept him going for all 52 days. He finished with 2,777 miles. Ushika illustrates the central concept of the race that it is about personal self-transcendence and doing what we can given the circumstances we are in. Towards the end of the gruelling race, he talked about the transformative potential of the race.
“At this stage of the race you go so far out of your mind, that it is difficult to think through answers. Life becomes very simple, especially the mind. It is not the usual way to function. But instead in a very cheerful and simple frame of mind." - Ushika Muckenhummer
The 3100 Mile Race was founded by Sri Chinmoy who initiated the very first race in 1997. In the past 23 years, only 44 different people have completed the 3100 Mile race - which the NY Times once described as "The Everest of distance running."
Sri Chinmoy believed that through ultra-distance running, individuals could discover unknown inner and outer capacities and gain a real sense of satisfaction from challenging their own limits. Sri Chinmoy was also a visionary who saw how the race could inspire many people around the world. Speaking at the first awards ceremony on 2 August 1997, he said of the race:
"This 3,100 miles is an unprecedented journey in our world-peace-manifestation-dream. World-peace can come into existence only when we are inundated with patience and perseverance. Infinite patience we need in our inner life and perseverance we need in our outer life.
These 3,100 miles remind us of one divine and supreme reality: we can and we must do everything at our command to transform the world of lethargy and unwillingness to be dynamic. Unwillingness we do not leave behind us. Therefore happiness remains always a far cry. Willingness to give, willingness to achieve, willingness to grow and glow should be the message of our souls. With our souls' blessings we can and will fulfil our earthly life." - Sri Chinmoy (Source)
On 2 August, Ashprihanal Aalto won the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race for a record ninth time. The modest Finn, has now completed the race a record 15 times. Despite challenging weather conditions through the hot summer, Aalto finished the 3100 miles in a time of 47 days+01:39:34. Since 1999, Ashprihanal has run 30 multi-day events, reaching the podium in all 30, and winning 21 of them. He has a total accumulated 56,138 miles (90,346km) in these 30 events (a distance equivalent to over twice around the earth's circumference!) Aalto is still the course record holder set in 2015 with a time of 40 days and 9 hours. After the race, Aalto spoke about what drove him to keep coming back to take on these challenging races.
“If you want to keep coming back here, you have to have something to motivate you. And if the numbers don’t motivate you, then you have to find something within.” (Westchester News)
After finishing the race, Aalto offered thanks to those who had supported him and the race. He received a message of congratulations from Finnish Consul General. Shortly before he finished Aalto was asked how he dealt with the challenge of running so many miles, Aalto replied he just took each day as it came.
“I’m learning to not even look at the miles. If you’re counting every mile, it can seem impossible,” (Westchester News)
Aalto was asked about the importance of winning the race, he replied that winning is secondary to the experience of taking part in this unique race - the greater importance is the inner challenges and mutual respect for his fellow competitors. Aalto said on the prospect of winning:
"This is like a pilgrimage so we all try and go together. I have not been thinking about that too much. I am just trying to run the race.”
“It has always been clear to me that there is an outer race. Then there is this inner thing... Now I am trying - and it is not always easy - to feel that the spiritual is more important than the outer part.” (Interview at Perfection Journey)
A day later, Nirbhasa Magee from Nirbhasa finished in second place, with Vasu Duzihy (a previous winner of the event) expected to finish today in 3rd place Harita Davies of New Zealand is on course to finish the 3100 miles and be the first women in the race.
The race has captured the imagination of people around the world. After being featured on the BBC website (and CBBC), the race has seen many first time visitors come to the course to see this unique race in action. The race has also featured in a recently released film - Run and Become. After screenings in New York, many viewers were inspired to come to the course and see the race for themselves.
Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the race, hoped that ultra-distance events like this would be an opportunity for people to learn to transcend their limits and discover the inner power and determination that lay latent in all of us.
“Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves. We compete only with our previous achievements. And each time we surpass our previous achievements, we get joy.”
– Sri Chinmoy
On 16 June 2019, eight intrepid runners took to the start line of the world's longest certified road race - the 23rd edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. Over the next seven weeks, the runners will aim to complete a daily average of 60 miles or more in order to finish the race within the official time limit of 52 days. The runners have to contend with the hot New York summer, a hard concrete course and the many physical and mental challenges of competing in this epic of self-transcendence.
The race was founded by spiritual teacher and ultra-runner pioneer Sri Chinmoy, who saw distance running as a vehicle to enable runners to bring to the fore their physical, mental and spiritual capacities to complete this unique challenge.
“We have to believe in a higher Power.
Only by believing in a higher Power
Can we go beyond and beyond
Our limited, human capacity.”
– Sri Chinmoy 
In this year's race, we have Asprihanal Aalto from Finland, an eight-time winner of the race and current course record holder for men in a time of 40 days+09:06:21. Also returning to the race is three-times winner Vasu Duzhiy from Russia, he is the current champion, having won in 2018. Other returning 3100 Mile runners include Smarana Puntigam (Austria), Nirbhasa Magee (Ireland), Ushika Muckenhummer (Austria) and Ananda-Lahari Zuscin (Slovakia). The only women running this year is Harita Davies - who returns after a gap of two years, to see if she can improve on her first time finishing of 51 days+12:48:14. Todor Dimitrov from Sofia, Bulgaria completes the field and he will be making his first attempt at 3100 Mile Race.
As well as the eight runners, there is a crew of dedicated volunteers who put on the race, including counters, medics, cooks and the organising crew.
Video of day one
The race featured at the BBC
To follow the race
Our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in the USA is best known for its multi-day ultradistance events; however in recent years we have been expanding our calendar of short-distance races in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as upstate New York. Our recent 5K, half-marathon and relay races in Flushing Meadow park saw over 400 finishers; people relished the chance to compete in teams, as well as the delicious post-race pancake breakfast!
Our shorter races (by that, we mean below marathon distance) will resume when the weather gets a little cooler in September; in the meantime we do have a fun, informal 2-mile race every Saturday morning at 8.07am in Queens - more info »
Upcoming NY Races:
A cellist from Vienna, Shamita Achenbach-König has been running ultramarathons for over 25 years. Her latest project is a series of multi-day runs across Europe – first she ran around Lake Constance where she grew up, then she ran across the length of her native Austria, and then she ran from Vienna to Heidelberg in Germany. Her most recent adventure took place earlier this year, lasted 16 days, and took her from Vienna to Paris; a distance of 1200km.
This year's run had its fair share of obstacles, such as minor injuries and bad weather, but Shamita stayed cheerful right through to the finish, helped by her enthusiastic support crew of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team members from all over Europe. A meditation student of Sri Chinmoy, Shamita views ultra-distance running as part of her spiritual practice, a way to push aside the mind's doubts and limitations. She is one of the main people featured in the recent documentary 3100: Run and Become, an exploration of the spiritual side of long distance running.
Ted Corbitt was known as the father of long distance racing in the USA. A former Olympic marathoner, he helped to reawaken interest in marathon and ultra distance races through his own training and racing, and also through his advocacy of race standards. He was the first president of the New York Road Runners Club and helped to plan the original NYC Marathon course.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team also benefited from a tremendous amount of assistance and encouragement from Ted as we started organising our own ultra running events. When we put on our first ultra - a 47-mile invitational race in 1978 - it was Ted we turned to for valuable advice. Over the years, Ted would be a frequent paricipant and guest at our races. In particular, Ted astounded all of us by competing in our 2000 and 2001 Six-Day races – his 2000 effort was the first time anyone over 80 years of age had completed that distance, and in 2001 he set a new over 80 mark of 303 miles.
- Recent article in the Sports Daily
- A 1962 article in the New York Times, about Ted's participation in the London to Brighton ultras
- Race summary of 2000 and 2001 races - read about Ted's 6-day races as they happened!
- 1 of 17
- next ›