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