Every year the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team promote the Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 day road race in Flushing Meadows, New York. The race was founded by Sri Chinmoy, a keen advocate of long-distance running. This epic race gives runners and helpers a chance for self-transcendence and attain new heights of physical, mental and spiritual endurance.
In addition to the many runners, there is a whole team of helpers, counters, cooks, medical staff and volunteers who help to manage the running of the race. The race is documented by photographers, writers and videographers, including:
Perfection Journey – Utpal’s blog
It is Monday afternoon and the one mile loop of the Self Transcendence races is alive with movement. Some like Alex Swenson are running with such strength and poise that I have to remind myself that he has been here now for more than 24 hours and has already completed 116 miles in that time. Continue reading.
On Tuesday night, around midnight, the Ten Day runners have completed six and a half days. So they are over halfway done with only three and a half days to go to the finish line. The Six Day runners have completed two and a half days and are closing in on their halfway point in 12 hours. They also only have three and a half days as runners of both races have the same finishing time, Saturday, April 27 at 12:00 Noon.
Now that all of the runners have experienced the ‘thrill’ of staying on their feet and moving forward at various speeds most of the day and night, day after day and night after night, they all have their own interpretations of what this unusual experience is like to them.
I am particularly interested in the experiences expressed by the first-timers who have never had this kind of experience before. Nirbhasa Magee, a computer programmer from Dublin, Ireland, has run marathons for many years and even completed a 24-Hour race recently. But this is his first time at a multiday race. He is running the Ten Day race and had completed five and a half days already when I asked him what the high points and low points of the race was to him so far. He had completed 295 miles by the halfway point, which was noon on Monday. This is an average of almost 60 miles per day so far which is quite good for a first time multiday runner..
The Self-Transcendence 12 & 24 hour race organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in Berlin honoured its name by registering two new records broken. Ultrarunning legend Yannis Kouros, world-record holder in the 24 hours, 48 hours and the 100 miles, set a new world record in his age category (over 50) in the 12 hours by running 127.984 kilometres – an average of 10.6K per hour.
Dutch ultrarunner Jos Akkermans broke the Dutch national record in his age category (over 60) by logging 177.186 kilometres in the 24 hour race.
Another ultrarunning legend, Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk, world-record holder of the 3100 Mile Race (the longest certified race in the world) just missed the world record in the 100 miles during the 24 hour race. He completed the 24 hours by running 204.76 kilometres, placing second.
Sri Chinmoy always saw sports – and running in particular – as tremendously beneficial to the spiritual life, both in terms of keeping the body healthy and for the opportunities it afforded for people to reach their highest potential. In 1977, he founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team to serve the worldwide running community, and it has since grown to be the largest organiser of endurance sports events in the world. One very popular race it organises is the 24 Hour Self Transcendence Race in London every October. Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member Matthias Eckerle went over to help, and he has kindly provided us with this eyewitness report:
The race started at 12pm Saturday, continuing around a 400m track right through the night till 12pm the next day. The field of runners came from many different countries. As well as organising the race, there were also two members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team participating. One of the, Asprihanal Aalto from Finland, has the distinction of being a four-time winner of the world’s longest race, the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence race. Alongside the faster runners, it was especially aspiring to see many older people also participating – the oldest was 77 years!
For me, it was a nice experience to take care of the runners and to meet their requests for coffee, tea and soup – even after hours of running most of them were still able to smile! With in a couple of hours, we knew the names of all the runners, and they really appreciated this personal treatment.
Some of them (including the winner) ran very fast in the beginning before slowing down towards the end of the race. Others were mre constant, including Asprihanal, who in the last hour put on a surprising burst of speed to run 7 kilometers in 40 minutes to end up in 7th place. One of our jobs as helpers is to run along with the runners forthe last 2 or 3 minutes to mark thir finishing spot – I was running with Asprihanal, and it was a very nice feeling – he really is a very humble guy who doesnt think of boasting about his considerable achievements.
The race was won by Chris Finhill covering a distance of 243km followed in 2nd place by Ireland’s Eoin Keith who ran 235km, breaking the Irish national record along the way. However, a race like this is really all about competing, and at the end everybody was honoured with a race medal and photo commemorating their achievement. It was very inspiring for me, and I think I will definitely work towards entering this race myself at some point in the future.
Earlier this week, Asprihanal Aalto from Helsinki, Finland entered the record books as he crossed the finish line of the 3100 Mile Self Transcendence race in a time of 43 days and 4 hours, making him the only person to have won the race four times. The second and third place finishers, Ayojan Stojanovic from Nish, Serbia and Pranab Vladovic from Bratislava, Slovakia will both finish today after 46 days on the road. The race is still continuing for the other intrepid runners, and they will gradually be coming in over the next two weeks.
Asprihanal finished at around 10 a.m. in front of a cheering crowd of friends and wellwishers. During the ensuing celebration, an enthusiastic choir sang the song that race founder Sri Chinmoy composed in honour of Asprihanal after his completion of the race last year. His time is the third fastest in the history of the race and a personal best for him. Sri Chinmoy once said something to the effect that for Asprihanal, running was like drinking water; this certainly seems to have been borne out in his performances over the last year – he has finished first in both the San Franscisco 24 hour race and the Self Transcendence Six Day Race in April.
(Photo: Asprihanal (right) with his brother Antaraloy immediately after the race)
The Six- and Ten Day Self-Transcendence Races have just finished in New York. These races are organised by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, which was founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1977 as a service to the running community and has now become the largest organiser of long-distance running events in the world. During these multiday races the runners have to battle against the stresses and strains of the body and reduced sleep as they make their way around a one-mile loop over and over again. The amount of volunteers and support tents around the course create a real village atmosphere for both runners and helpers alike. Many people who do these races say the experience is a life-changing one, in that they have to go deep within themselves to find the inner strength to transcend their limitations and keep going.
The Ten-Day Race began on 25 April, and the Six-Day on 1 May so both could finish at the same time. Both races combined attracted a record field of 80 runners from all around the world. The men’s Ten Day race was won by Petr Spacil from the Czech Republic with a total of 670 miles, only 14 miles ahead of his nearest challenger and long-time leader Glen Turner. Surasa Maier from Austria dominated the ladies’ field with 595 miles, setting the best time of the day 9 out of the 10 days. Her fellow Austrian Tatyana Jauk came in second, and Pratishruti Kisamoutdinova from Russia – who is 63 years young – came in third with 507 miles.
The Six-Day Race men’s honours went to Asprihanal Aalto from Finland with 505 miles. Asprihanal is a three-time winner of the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race, which is the longest foot race in the world and is also held in New York in June. Dipali Cunningham from Australia won the women’s race with 443 miles, taking best day honours in each of the six days. Dipali has won every edition of the Six-Day Race since it started, and broke the world Six-Day record in this race in 2001 with 510 miles, a mark which still stands.