The Flemish newspaper Net Nieuwsblad, details the 23rd Annual Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100-Mile Race.
"16 uur per dag lopen rond hetzelfde blokje, 52 dagen lang: acht atleten lopen 5.649 rondjes in New York".18/07/2019 om 14:08 door Marc Vermeiren
For complete article in Flemish...
Google translation of article:
"Even De Cauwer and Wuyts do not get this completely talked about. Running circles increasingly tend to be longer, heavier and crazier. And the greatest madness is currently taking place in New York, where eight brave people have been working on the 23rd Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race since 16 June. Their trajectory? A total of 5,649 tours of 880 meters around the same block of houses in the Queens district, accounting for almost 5,000 monotonous kilometers."
"With its 4,989 kilometers, the Self-Transcendence is considered the world's longest official running race. That is from Antwerp to Omsk, deep in the Siberian steppe. Or to Kuwait, far on the Arabian Peninsula. Anyone who would undertake such a trip traverses beautiful landscapes and enjoys changing views. Anyone who completes the Queens block almost 6,000 times will always see the same thing: a playground, the busy Grand Central Park-way, the Thomas Edison High School, a baseball field and a series of anonymous homes. And again. And again. And again."
"The runners have time to reach the finish between June 16 and August 6, accounting for an average of 95 kilometers per day. This edition is over halfway. Ashprihanal Aalto leads the way, a Finnish postman with a lot of breath and few friends. He is being followed by Nirbhasa Magee, who is 35 kilometers behind. Aalto has held the course record since 2015, when he needed 40 days and a handful of hours to reach the finish line. The 48-year-old mileage eater reached the finish fourteen times, winning eight times. His motivation? “If you run a marathon, you feel good. You will feel better if you have completed 100 kilometers. And when you have reached the 5,000 kilometers, you feel even better. Along the way you end up in a special zone. "
"And let that be precisely the intention of founder and name giver Sri Chinmoy, the half-sole behind this madness. He wants to give participants the opportunity to break through their physical and mental limits. Hence the name Self-Transcendence. Freely translated: self-transcendence. Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) was a spiritual leader, athlete, musician, poet and philanthropist. His interest in self transcendence and the power of the human mind permeates the competition. When the physical forces have reached their limit, the good man thought, the spiritual energy must take over. And that is infinite. Sri Chinmoy set a good example herself. After he moved from India to the States in the 1960s, he started ultralooping and weightlifting. Sri Chinmoy claims that he has composed 6,000 songs, written 1,100 books and made a few thousand paintings. For a man with so many high-minded ideals, Sri Chinmoy used a pretty prosaic reason for the location of his race. He simply lived near the trail."
"Is the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race more difficult than climbing the Everest or swimming across the Channel? The harassment of Queens has so far only been successfully completed by 43 people, while more than 4,000 people have already conquered the Himalayan giant and nearly 1,500 swimmers have crossed the straits. Per lap, an altitude difference of around eight meters must be overcome, which after 5,000 kilometers rises to around six times the Everest. Every day the walking direction changes, so that ankles, knees and hips in the turns are loaded alternately. The whimsical New York summer causes additional problems. Temperatures sometimes rise to forty degrees, the humidity can be stifling and rain showers soak the participants. Because the competition takes place on public roads, the athletes have to navigate through passers-by. The neighborhood has meanwhile undergone an upgrade, but in the early years the runners had to brave beggars, homeless people and drug dealers and were pelted with all kinds of projectiles."
"Race director Rupantar LaRusso labels the first three weeks as the most difficult. "Afterwards, the athletes come to their rhythm." If that is no reassurance. The mental pressure on the runners weighs even more than the physical strain. "The human brain craves variety," said Nirbhasa Magee, the first finisher from Ireland. “But there isn't, of course. So you have to ignore the mind and go deeper into yourself. Those who have a low pain threshold, are easily bored and need more than four hours of sleep per night should stay at home. “
"The Welshman Abichal Watkins is one of the big misfortunes in the history of the spectacle. He once had to stop halfway through his efforts because his visa had expired. Fortunately, he had already reached the finish line twice before. Watkins stayed up spiritually by listening to Fix you from Coldplay. On repeat, two days long. "That song has something special," he said."
"The course is run between 6 a.m. and midnight, whereby the participants can choose their own breaks. The route closes at night. The remaining six hours are for eating, showering and taking care of the body. The longer those activities last, the less sleep there is left. Volunteers take the participants to apartments in the area to spend the night. The race is so long that a hairdresser is available. Some wear twelve pairs of shoes. The trotters consume around 10,000 calories a day, which means they have to eat constantly. The organization offers vegetarian meals, braised together in a converted garage, but it is just as good to grab high-calorie sweets. One participant ate three liters of vanilla ice cream per day."
(Photo: Ashprihanal Aalto receiving victory garland from Sri Chinmoy, circa 2007)
Holidays for the mind
"The STR is a kind of holiday for the mind, a mental detox. For almost two months, life has been reduced to the simplest: walking around a block. The American Yolanda Holder left herself during her participation. She calls it a transcendental experience. “I saw myself ahead. And it happened again at night. It was frightening. I descended deep into my own spirituality. ”At an event where experience is so important, you should not expect young legs. Most participants are in their forties, but the Scottish sixties Williams Sichel also reached the finish in 2014."
"The organization limits the number of participants to a maximum of fifteen. These men and women are chosen, among other things, based on their previous performances in ultra-runs and pay a $ 1,250 registration fee. Sri Chinmoy and his followers like to keep it simple. The scoreboard consists of the number of the participants, which is hung on a chain. The finishers will receive a T-shirt, a DVD and a small trophy. Self transcendence therefore does not really pay."