Asprihanal Aalto has won the Grandaddy of all ultras, the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race in Queens New York. Averaging over 70 miles a day for 43 days to secure his 6th victory. This year is the 14th annual edition of this race, surely up for the much abused title of “world’s toughest race” testing not only physical endurance but mental stamina on an unparalleled scale.
The course is .54 of a mile concrete sidewalk circling a playground and a school and takes place in some of the hottest months New York has to offer. Heat, humidity and precipitation combine to make the conditions uncomfortable during the 18 hours a day the course is open.
For many people who have not ventured into the realm of multiday races the events appear to beyond the capacity of all but a few of the worlds running population and indeed those people who have participated in these events can be considered outside the mainstream.
These people are special in particular ways. They run regularly and they have the circumstances that allow them to spend 6 or 10 days or even 2 months involved in an activity that is not generating an income or providing support for their community. In many ways a multiday race is like a retreat requiring athletes to prepare for 18-20 hours a day of constant motion having little sleep, few comforts and separated from the routines and familiar icons both inner and outer of ‘normal life’ while remaining fully focused on the self-imposed challenge at hand.
Responding to challenge
The world today that is presented to us by the media is one that is focussed on satisfying our needs and desires and as this is commercially driven, the action is where the money is where the action is. This is external focus. Internal focus is not given much attention by the mass media apart from honing a few cognitive aspects.
Running, ultrarunning and multiday running are steps toward connecting with a deeper strata of our being. Running provides many benefits and really there can be no argument against it as offering a way to bring the elements of our being into a greater harmony.
This strata, these benefits and these elements are aspects of our being usually seen in the light of psychology and religion or spirituality and they form how we see ourselves and how we see our own individual reality in our social context.
Ordinarily our perceptions of ourselves are limited by the way we relate to our ideation, our thought processes and how people perceive and interact with us.
However it just takes a small step outside of that box to see a new perspective and that process is what we invoke when we run.
More is not necessarily better, it is not the number of days one is running or the number of miles one covers but the process of self-discovery that takes place under those conditions.
What’s the point? If we are not who think we are then what are? The answer to that can only be answered by and through our self-discovery, a process beneath that of satisfying our perceived needs and desires and of revealing what now is in potential form.
Sri Chinmoy’s races were renamed Self-Transcendence races to indicate just what these events are really about, whether for his students or for the general public and it is clear that these events are real opportunities to develop insight into oneself as well as to just enjoy the enthusiasm, great food and organisation characteristic of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team events.
Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race current standings after 49 days
Asprihanal Aalto 43 days+16:28:06
Grahak Cunningham 44 days+09:08:58
Petr Spacil 45 days+03:44:21
Vadimir Balatsky 48 days+02:25:50
Pranjal Milovnik 48 days+06:07:50
Stutisheel Lebedev 48 days+12:42:46
Pushkar Mullauer 3085
Diganta Adhikari 2925
Pavol Saraz 2771
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin 2724
Suprabha Beckjord 2582
Purna-Samarpan Querhammer 1884 40 days
Pranab Vladovic 625 12 days