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.
Race photos: Alan Young