Original article at Salzburg.orf.at (translated into English here)
5.000 km run in the park: Italian leads
Monday evening, the runner and yoga specialist Andrea Marcato from Venice completed the first thousand kilometers of the 5,000 km "Sri Chinmoy Race" in a small park in Salzburg-Lehen. This year's race, which is taking place for the 24th time, had to be relocated from the New York district of Queens (USA) to Europe due to the CoV crisis.
At the Glanspitz-Park in Salzburg's Lehen district, sports history is being written in these days and weeks. Five ultra-long distance runners and yoga specialists will be dueling here until November over 5,000 kilometers (or 3,100 miles) and over 52 days.
Total distance corresponds to 120 marathons
Do you run regularly? If so, then you know how it feels: when you can run five, ten or even 20 kilometers. Maybe you also know from your own experience how people feel when they manage their first marathon as amateurs. After many weeks, months, sometimes even years with consistent training and iron discipline.
Even for many competitive athletes and long-distance professionals, it is hard to believe what can now be seen in the small park near the Salzach power plant in Salzburg-Lehen: The length of the course is equivalent to almost 120 marathons. Over a period of about 52 days, every day from 6.00 a.m. to midnight, the athletes run, walk and rest in between. The 5,000 kilometers can only be managed if everyone covers an average of about one hundred kilometers per day.
Salzburgers in the race too
A local hero, 52-year-old Ushika Muckenhumer, is also running. He runs a store for musical instruments in Salzburg. In addition there is the Italian Andrea Marcato (38), who lives in Zurich, the Czech Milan Javornicky (46), who lives near Prague, the Irish Nirbhasa Magee (41), who lives in Iceland, and Ananda-Lahari Zuscin (45) from Kosice in Slovakia. They will complete the total distance on 4,780 laps in the small Salzburg park next to a popular children's playground in Lehen. One lap is about one kilometer long.
All runners are employed, spend almost all their free time in meditation or running training and call themselves yogis. They belong to the network of the ultra long distance runner, yoga and meditation master Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), who is active on all continents. He once lived in India and the USA.
“What is the point of it all? Pure delusion?”
Organizer of the race in Salzburg is Priyavadin Reisecker, a mathematician and native Upper Austrian from Hochburg-Ach. He runs a vegetarian restaurant in the state capital and has himself participated several times in ultra-long distance races that lasted up to 15 days: "That's tough compared to a normal marathon, but no comparison to what we experience here over more than 50 days.
Pure delusion? Endless running in circles, completely in the sense of the former self-knowledge of Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda? Well, you could look at it that way, Reisecker smiles: "In the end, it's not about triumphs over others, not about running down competitors, but about our own ego and the things that lie deep inside our souls. At this distance, a person emotionally goes through almost everything that is conceivable, negative and positive, in addition to physical suffering and joy.
Global crisis: "Trust leads to the goal”
Is this a special kind of these ego trips, for which many types of extreme sports are famous and some are notorious? "The world is currently in a deep crisis, the negative energies seem to dominate massively. Many say that an end is not in sight. But our participants are convinced that they are not only circling around themselves here, but that they can also motivate many people not to let themselves be left hanging. There is always a way. And it continues even from the great lows if you tackle it, trusting yourself and others. And of course the runner's role model of our yoga master Sri Chinmoy plays a role in this," says Priyavadin Reisecker.
Even the doctor in charge is amazed
The Austro-American Tom Drekonja has a practice for orthopedics in Salzburg. He is also an expert and assessor for Austrian state authorities in aviation medicine and an aircraft pilot. Drekonja now examines the athletes as a volunteer at regular intervals when they take breaks: "I am surprised that they all have excellent hemoglobin values, even though they are vegetarians. Normally, a person can only achieve such performances if he or she has enough red meat on the menu as a source of iron. But their vegetable diet is extremely good and carefully selected. The main problem is that they do not lose too much weight over the seven weeks. So eat, eat, eat ..."
Weight loss as a danger
Under these conditions, a runner will consume about 10,000 kilocalories per day. Priyavadin Reisecker's Salzburg organization team includes numerous volunteers from Austria and abroad - men and women who take turns and complement each other over six weeks in the intensive care and nutrition of the five runners. They cook and organize practically the whole day. In addition, there is the work of caring for wounds and muscles. Each athlete "destroys" between 15 and 20 pairs of running shoes on the total distance until November.
Salzburgers can hardly believe it
From day to day more and more passers-by of all ages and social classes are interested in the race. The organizers would like some cyclists to pass by more slowly in the small park so as not to endanger anyone on the circuit.
The lovingly designed refreshment station for the five athletes at the supply tent is particularly striking. During our ORF local inspection, the Salzburg pensioner Willi Hecht, a still good tennis player and athlete, also came by, together with his wife Sieglinde, who is in a wheelchair: "I've been noticing the tent for days, but I thought it was just one of the many charity events. Now I know the data, facts and background. You need time to really understand it. These five men make the impossible possible. We come here every day now."
Translated by DeepL
Original article at Salzburg.orf.at