One of the very best ultrarunners in the world, Finland’s Asprihanal Pekka Aalto, took time out from his own fast pace to film the spectacular nearly-full moon– with its bright maroonish aura– as it emerged from high puffy clouds around 10:30 p.m. At the same moment a very tall, muscular runner (whose body resembled Pranjal Milovnik’s) wearing a DONKEY mask (yes, like the donkey in SHRECK!) emerged from the bushes while wolf cries of “HOWOOooooo!” filled the night air.
Who says the runners in the world’s longest certified race don’t have a little fun and entertainment along the way?! But it isn’t all easy as the 3100 mile runners head into day 4. Some hard rains Tuesday sent athletes running for cover, umbrellas, raincoats etc. Thick poison ivy growing along a wooded side of the course was a danger to any runner who strayed off the mostly-concrete path. And 20 miles away, near Greenwich, CT, police and game wardens are tracking a MOUNTAIN LION that has been eating neighborhood animals etc. (this is national news, and a second mountain lion was shot by authorities two days ago). A large skunk has been spotted following runners on the 3100 loop.
ESPN Sports was on the scene again today to capture all the action. Remember, the lead runners here– in a race that will last 41 to 52 days depending on how fast one finishes– are throwing in 8:00 miles at will. This is faster than many of the top US trail 100+ mile racers will do. And the terrain in Queens is not flat– a short, sudden hill with sidewalk cracks and a few rough dirt patches and mud (where large trees have been removed) greet the runners at the east end of the .55 of a mile loop.
I was surprised that even with my 75 year old, very flat and oft-injured feet I did not have any foot pain on the hard surface yesterday (OK, I only did 10 miles, but will put in 20+ today hopefully). Wearing my most cushy adidas shoes helped (I saw only one of the ten racers– 120 pound Ananda Lahari– wearing lightweight minimalist shoes). I also noted a preponderence of EEEE special order shoes from various companies as well as super cushy insoles, full-length air soles, etc. Runners must order/ purchase all their own shoes, though Monique Blackwood and her Quantum Runners shoppe (near the 3100 course) do provide hefty discounts to all racers and race directors. A runner may go through fifteen (15) pairs of shoes during their time on the loop.
I am rushing off to the races now, after a quick stop at the famous diner The Smile (frequented by several world class ultrarunners) for a meal to go (to be eaten during my running!) I am also hoping to meet up with ultra list member and RD Cherie Yanek later in the day. As Pranjal opined to me, “it is always good to see new faces at the race– it encourages us.”
I invite anyone in the Greater NYC area (even if passing through) to take a little time and go out and cheer the runners and get in a training run yourself.
Don’t tell the racers, but I am putting on my Big Bad Wolf costume (used for entertaining kids at Aloha Hive camp in Vermont in summer) to surprise them this afternoon. HOWOOoooooo!
Best wishes to all ultrarunners around the globe,
Photos by Alakananda
Race website: Sri Chinmoy Races