NEW YORK – So, who’s up for the annual Sri Chinmoy Marathon which takes place around Rockland Lake in Valley Cottage, New York, on August 23rd this year? For those shaking their heads in wonder as to why some folks would run all of 26.2 miles at a stretch when there are plenty of new films available on Netflix to watch in the comfort of one’s home along with pizza and coke to supplement bliss, here’s another race that would seem suitable only for aliens (of the super fit kind): the 23rd edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, which began on June 16th this year, is still in progress, as you read this.
You read that right: those two zeros are not typos after 31. The mind boggling 3,100 miles race in New York – the longest certified road race in the world – is being contested this year by eight intrepid runners.
Over the next seven weeks, the runners will aim to complete a daily average of 60 miles or more – equivalent of more than two full marathons daily – in order to finish the race within the official time limit of 52 days.
Astonishingly, the race is held entirely around a block, starting from 84th Avenue, along the Grand Central Parkway, around a local school, down 168 Street and back on to 84th Ave. The runners do this a grand total of 5,649 times, all with only five hours of rest every day, including sleep. It’s their choice what they do with those five hours. Most folks would struggle to play the game ‘Musical Chairs’ that many times.
The race, if you want to call it that instead of the toughest physical endurance test of all time, was started in 1997, after the New York-based guru Sri Chinmoy, known for his super human feats.
It encourages runners to “transcend their own previous capacity”, “gain spiritual insights” and “overcome the entire world’s pre-conceived notions of possibility”, though runners who are shortlisted for the race need a resume at least a mile long to prove their mettle as somebody who will not collapse on concrete block at the end of day one.
Runners this year include the super hero of marathon runners, Asprihanal Aalto, from Finland, an eight-time winner of the race and current course record holder for men in a time of 40 days+09:06:21. Also returning to the race is three-time winner Vasu Duzhiy from Russia. He’s the current champion, having won in 2018. Other returning 3100 Mile runners include Smarana Puntigam (Austria), Nirbhasa Magee (Ireland), Ushika Muckenhummer (Austria) and Ananda-Lahari Zuscin (Slovakia).
The only women running this year is Harita Davies – who returns after a gap of two years, to see if she can improve on her first time finishing of 51 days+12:48:14. Todor Dimitrov from Sofia, Bulgaria completes the field.
The organizers have a running blog of the race, entitled ‘Perfection Journey’ which as one can presume, is not quite as ‘racy’ as cricket commentary of the match between India and Pakistan, but is still a fascinating read. Here’s an excerpt from the progressive race, on July 1: “Yesterday Vasu had a good day, a very good day. He ran 66 miles which is about his usual distance, but in the week preceding it the story was much different. He was being tormented by blisters and a sore Achilles. He wasn’t exactly running but on the worst days he was still able to complete distances in the mid 50’s.”
Elsewhere in the blog, there is some good philosophical advice from the runner Vasu Duzhiy, who talked about moving on with sublime grace despite a blister on his feet: “When you have problems you can go deep inside, and it can help a lot. But you must be happy when you go through it.” He says he does not get sad when his daily results are not up to his usual standard. “It’s more important to be happy,” he says. And then reiterates: “To be happy is very important.”
Great advice for everybody. Not just for runners.
AICON’S NEW EXHIBITION
Aicon Gallery’s fascinating new exhibition ‘The End of Nature’ featuring a group of Indian artists is being exhibited through August 3, 2019.
‘End of Nature’ brings together a group of artists with environmental concerns at the core of their practice. For the most part they work in generational time. The exhibition features among others, Rajan Krishnan, G. R. Iranna, H. G. Aunkumar, Debanjan Roy, Sujith S. N., Gigi Scaria, Avishek Sen, Ruby Chishti and Marcy Chevali.
A series of works by Debanjan Roy featuring Mahatma Gandhi is riveting. Entitled ‘India Shining’ series, the works in fiberglass with acrylic paint has Gandhi absorbed with modern gadgets, including a laptop, phone and an iPod.
It’s anybody’s guess what Gandhi might have achieved if he had social media at his disposal.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)