History of the 3100 Mile Race
Slf-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race, June 16 to August 7, 2013
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team is proud to offer the Seventeenth Annual Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race. In this grand test of endurance and survival, a small group of athletes attempt to negotiate 5649 laps of a .5488 of a mile course (883 meters) in the timespan of 52 days- an amazing challenge. This is the longest certified footrace in the world; runners must average 59.62 miles per day to finish within the 52-day limit. The serious athlete must have tremendous courage, physical stamina, concentration and the capacity to endure fatigue, boredom and minor injuries. The predecessor of this very race was the 2700 Mile Race (held in 1996), in which five intrepid runners finished the distance well within the 47-day time limit. In 1997,Sri Chinmoy, race founder, upped the distance to 3100 miles. Two runners finished the inaugural 3100 Mile race in less than 51 days, showing that athletes indeed believed in self-transcendence.
The SCMT has been sponsoring multiday races in the New York area for the last nineteen years. In 1985 we offered our first 1000-mile race in Flushing Meadows Park, the first of its kind in this hemisphere in this century. Three runners actually completed the distance in the allowed timeframe. In 1987 Sri Chinmoy increased his vision of the running world. He felt that a longer race of 1,300 miles would inspire a challenge for the ultra marathon runners. The Ultra Trio was born- a set of three ultra races of 700, 1,000 and 1,300 miles. World-class distance specialists began to attempt the increasingly difficult mileages.
The Marathon Team held national and world championship events in 1988 and 1989 at Flushing Meadows Park. The 1988 1,000-mile event was the I.A.U. (International Association of Ultrarunners) World Championship. Yiannis Kouros of Greece ran 1,000 miles in 10 days, 10 hours, breaking the previous record by 1 1/2 days. Suprabha Beckjord of Washington D.C. won the women's 700-mile race in American Record time. Sandra Barwick of New Zealand set a new world standard for women at 1000 miles in 14 days, 20 hours. One year later Al Howie of Scotland became the first person to complete the 1,300-mile distance in a certified race (17 days 9 hours).
1989 saw the women's world best for 1000 miles claimed by Suprabha Beckjord as she broke Sandra Barwick's time by a mere 27 minutes. The 1991 Ultra Trio had a field of over 60 runners for all three races- unheard of considering the great distances being attempted. Al Howie came back to break his own record for 1,300 miles by 13 hours and Sandy Barwick became the first woman to run 1,300 miles in a certified race; as well she smashed the 1,000 standard by two days! In 1992 Beckjord returned to join the super elite group who have run 1,300 miles in a certified race, which totals ten men and seven women. In the 1993 1,300 miler, Istvan Sipos of Hungary broke Al Howie’s record by nearly two hours. In 1994 Antana Locs of Canada won the 1300 miler overall, and was the first person to ever complete the 1300 three times. In 1995 Georgs Jermolajevs of Latvia broke the world mark for 1300 miles in 16 days 14 hours.
A New Frontier, the 2,700-Mile Race: 1996
Georgs Jermolajevs returned for victory in 1996 in the Sri Chinmoy 2700 Mile Race. He astounded the running world with a fabulous victory in 40 days 11 hours, an average of 66.7 miles a day, leading four other finishers across the line. Suprabha Beckjord became the first female to finish the 2700 miler in 43 days 1 hour.
The First 3,100-Mile Race: 1997
Then Sri Chinmoy announced a longer race would be held the following year. In 1997, Edward Kelley of California conquered the heat and humidity of the New York summer to win the inaugural 3100-mile race in 47 days, 15 hours- averaging 65.1 miles per day. Suprabha Beckjord became first female ever to finish 3100 miles in 51 days two hours. The runners managed the equivalent of New York to California on foot. In 1998, Istvan Sipos of Hungary outdueled Ed Kelley, leading four finishers across the line in 46 days 17 hours, a remarkable 66.3 miles per day. Five starters in 1999 were subject to temperatures reaching between 90º and 100ºF for much of a record setting July, but somehow Edward Kelley won for the second time in 48 days 12 hours. In 2000, the four starters experienced cooler days, with three finishers led by Ashprihanal Aalto of Finland in 47 days, 13 hours. Mr. Aalto repeated his win in 2001 in a small field with three finishers.
The number of finishers doubled in 2002 as Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk of Germany broke the world best by over four days in 42 days 13 hours, averaging an astounding 72.8 miles per day. Ashprihanal Aalto also slipped under the previous record by a few hours to finish second, and Suprabha Beckjord made her sixth finish in as many attempts. In the 2003 race, Namitabha Arsic from Yugoslavia prevailed over a field of seven. Suprabha continued her string of finishes with seven straight. Ashprihanal Aalto returned to win again in 2004 in a personal best of 46 days six hours. Suprabha won again for eight straight finishes. In 2005 Ayojan Stojanovich of Serbia surprised with a fastest first time victory in 46 days 10 hours. Suprabha Beckjord kept her streak alive with nine in a row.
Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk Sets 3,100-Mile Record in 2006
2006 was a record year again as 15 starters were led by the stupendous performance of Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk. He eclipsed his own record by 29 hours (41 days, eight hours), which is the top performance of all-time. Suprabha Beckjord made it ten straight with another finish. Mr. Schwerk pulled the first ten finishers to personal bests as well. In 2007 Ashprihanal Aalto won again in a new personal best of 43 days four hours, his seventh finish. He remains the second fastest man all-time at 3100 miles.
With the sudden passing of our beloved Sri Chinmoy in October of 2007, the Marathon Team vowed to continue the multiday races in memory of his inspiration and vision. Ashprihanal Aalto repeated again in 2008, 2009,and 2010 as the winner, making it seven victories. Suprabha Beckjord reached 13 consecutive finishes- the most ever. She was also the oldest finisher in 2009 at age 53.In 2011, Sarvagata Mikhailo Ukrainskyi of the Ukraine ran the fastest first time performance in 44 days13 hours to claim victory. Surasa Mairer of Austria became only the second woman in history to complete the race. In 2012 four-time finisher from Australia Grahak Cunningham became only the third man to ever average 70 plus miles per day, winning the race in 43 days+10:36:39. There were no women in the race for the first time ever.
The cornerstone of Sri Chinmoy's philosophy is the expression of self-transcendence- going beyond personal limits and reaching new levels of inner and outer perfection. Whether it is in the athletic world or any endeavor, for someone to transcend his previous achievements is inner progress and an expression of a new determination, which can only bring us closer to our destined goal- real satisfaction. We offer our best wishes to all the seeker-runners who share a dream of going where few have ever gone. The seventeenth running of this 3100-mile race will be testament to the new horizons of the running world, as 12 runners will toe the line. This is another step is mankind’s inevitable progression, according to the remarkable vision of Sri Chinmoy:
"Run and Become.
Become and Run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world."
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team offers its best wishes to all the seeker-runners who share a dream of going where few have ever gone. The fourteenth running of the 3100 mile race will be testament to the new horizons of the running world, as 11 brave runners will again toe the line. We wish them good luck and Godspeed.