Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race Report 2004

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The Eighth Annual 3100 Mile Race: Double Your Fun

The Eighth Annual Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, a mind-boggling 51-day jog around a neighborhood block in Jamaica, Queens, New York, started on June 13th with a whopping 12 runners- nearly double the field of its seven previous editions. The race, sponsored by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, requires a runner to average 3.38 miles per hour for an 18-hour day followed by a mandatory six-hour curfew, which helps recovery and gives the runners a break from the montony of the course.The race is run on concrete sidewalks past a high school, city playground and ballfield, a residential neighborhood and a section of a service road alongside a nearby expressway. The distance is slightly more than half a mile (883 meters). Apartment buildings, two-family dwellings and quiet streets surround the rest of the venue.

This year’s event featured the two fastest men in the history of the race- German Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk, a 48 year-old instrument maker and craftsman who had shattered the world best for 3100 miles in 2002 by over four full days (42 days+13:24:03, an average of 72.86 miles per day -or 117.27 km), and Finnish champion Ashprihanal Pekka Aalto, the 33 year old courier who had won this race two times in three attempts. Mr. Aalto had finished second to Mr. Schwerk in that amazing 2002 event (46 days +13:27:51).The lone female entrant would be history’s only woman runner for 3100 miles-Suprabha Beckjord, the 48 year old Washington,DC., wonder woman who was the only person to run all seven previous 3100 mile races- and finish them as well.

After a silent meditation by Sri Chinmoy, the race was off at its 6:00 am rendezvous. Ashprihanal Aalto began his relentless assault on the course as the temperatures were in the low 70’s and the air was fresh. Mr. Aalto would run 90.003 miles that first day- four miles ahead of Madhupran Schwerk and six ahead of Kauranga Michael Peel, the Austrian 24-hour champion who was attempting his third multiday. Sixty-five year old Vladimir Glazkov had returned to New York from Moscow to try and become the oldest finisher in race history. He popped off 74 miles and remained in fourth place. Mr. Glazkov had won the 1300 mile race in 1999 at Wards Island Park near the triborough Bridge, but had not found the courage to come back and try the 3100 miler until now.The rest of the field was fresh, and just about everyone reached 65+ miles or more.

I am always amazed by the determination of the competitors as they begin the race and settle into the rhythm and flow. The hardest step, to me, must be the first one. The unknowns in this race- the big daily mileage, the endless laps, the tedium of miles upon miles, the risk of overuse injuries and the sheer enormity of the task must be overwhelming to a first timer. Therefore one must have a large supply of determination, strength, inner poise, and quite a bit of running talent in order to last the eight weeks of the race.You have to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one lap at a time.

As the days started to turn into weeks, and the mileage started mounting, the strengths of each runner were revealed. Ashprihanal Aalto was able to reach 454 miles for six days, and maintained a 14 mile lead on Madhupran Schwerk. A surprise was the third place of Vladimir Glazkov, who had garnered 396 miles. Kauranga Michael Peel was in fourth place with 394 miles, and was starting to look smooth and more confident as a first-time starter. Oleg Lebedyev, also a first timer from Kiev, Ukraine was showing tremendous capacity as well with 375 miles and no injuries. American Arpan DeAngelo, 52, totalled 367 miles and was surprised how easy the race seemed the first week. Suprabha Beckjord ran 364 miles the first six days, and looked as good as she has in years. The rest of the group applied themselves as carefully as possible.

It usually takes about three weeks for the runners to acclimate to the high mileage and strict daily schedules necessary to complete the race on time. We have found that the breaking in period is just as hard psychologically as well as physically, particularly for newer runners. The veterans just go as best they can, knowing that if things work out in their favor, then finishing is inevitable. But a first timer has to test the waters of his capacity, hoping that shinsplints and blisters and other injuries will stay away or not affect his energy as he lasts the 18 hours on the road each day.

After two weeks, it was apparent that Ashprihanal was in great shape and on his way to another win. He had fashioned a 100 mile lead on Madhupran and the rest of the field, and seemed ready to smash his personal bests by days instead of minutes. Madhupran had a hamstring problem that would not go away, and his ability to maintain high mileage was being thwarted as he was forced to walk for many hours each day. Ashprihanal passed the 1000 mile mark in 13 days13 hours, almost a day and a half ahead of the amazing Vladimir, who went through 1000 miles in 15 days,2 hours, the first man over 65 to ever run 1000 miles on a certified course. Ashprihanal was averaging 72.67 miles per day, not too far away from record pace

As is the case with most performances in the long races, however, is the feeling that whatever goes up must come down. The bad patches are inevitable. As a multiday runner, you try to steel your emotions, in a sense. Do not ever get too high or too low. Ashprihanal started to experience aching shins after three and a half weeks, which affected his energy and his mileage. Still he continued on as the weeks rolled by. Madhupran, by all rights, had no reason to stay in the race as his leg was preventing any running. Yet, he managed to maintain his momentum and was on pace to finish. More than anything else, he enjoyed the journey and the experiences of body and spirit that accompanied him. Vladimir Glazkov, was not so lucky, however. His relentless quick pace of the first two weeks caused his back to weaken and his torso to lean forward too much, causing strains on his back and weakness in his leg muscles as well.Instead of dropping out, he maintained a softer schedule with a more modest goal of over 2000 miles.

The race opened up for Kauranga Michael Peel and his Austrian comrade Smarana Andreas Puntigam to assume second and third positions. Kauranga was having the race of his life, reaching 1000 miles in 15 days 9 hours, and fashioning a consistent, methodical shuffle that brought him closer to the goal with each passing day. Smarana was only a few hours behind Kauranga and becoming another model of consistentcy in his approach and his performance. Smarana was a two-time veteran of the distance, and relied on his experience to avoid mistakes. His cheerful demeanor helped him considerably as the days rolled on.

Arpan had a different kind of ‘first-timer’ race. Starting out conservatively for the first two weeks, he encountered shin splints after 12 days, and was forced to walk for most of the next 10 days. On Day 24,with the shin splints gone, his strength returned and he began to run in earnest. Arpan had eight straight days over 65 miles, and came within a few hours of being on pace to finish inside the 51 day cutoff.

Rathin Matt Boulton from Australia and Abichal Watkins from Wales both made serious improvements from their ‘baptisms of fire’ the previous year. Both Abichal and Rathin ran their second 1000 miles faster than the first 1000 miles. Rathin even took mileage honors on Day 43 with 71.34 miles.

As the final days of the race approached, the runners coaxed as much mileage out of their tired bodies as they possibly could. Ashprihanal endured the shin splints and sore ankles for weeks, as well as a head cold, and still reached 3100 miles in a personal best of 46 days+06:55:11. This was the second fastest performance of alltime, as well as the young Finn’s third victory overall in the race. A few days later Kauranga Michael Peel crossed the line in second place in 48 days+05:02:44. He became the sixth fastest alltime in the history of the race. He also had only one day below sixty miles for the duration of the race- a model of consistency almost never duplicated. His multiday upside is astonishing, considering his good speed at 24 hours(140+ miles), and his relaxed manner.Smarana Puntigam reached 3100 miles for the third time the next day in 49 days+11:12:33, his second fastest time.

Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk finished 3100 miles for the third time in 50 days+03:04:39. his time was nearly eight days slower than his world record, but his willingness to stay and accept the result, good or bad, speaks volumes about inner strength, dedication and kindness. His record may never be broken for another generation or two, unless someone with speed and inner strength emerges on the multiday running scene.

Arpan DeAngelo finished fifth in 51 days+10:04:37. He becomes the first over 50 finisher of the race, and places himself eleventh alltime in the history of the 3100 miler.A few days later, Oleg Lebedyev reached the goal in 53 days+03:57:38, grateful for the experience and thrilled to finish in his first attempt.The next day, Rathin Matt Boulton crossed the line in 54 days+15:39:14, becoming Australia’s first finisher of the race. On the last day, Abichal Watkins reached 3100 miles for the first time in 55 Days +08:32:41, becoming the first man from the UK to reach running’s Everest. And later that evening, Suprabha Beckjord reached 3100 miles for the eighth straight year in 55 days +13:13:00.

Suprisingly, nine finished out of the 12 starters. More surprising was that all 12 starters stayed for the duration of the race. Most surprisingly was that 12 runners shared the concrete collossus with each other, and dared to try and go beyond their limits, and in a sense showed the world that nothing is impossible if we try and have faith in our efforts and in the Goal ahead of us. Thanks go to all that helped make the eighth edition of the 3100 Mile Race so memorable and special, and a special congratulations to Sri Chinmoy for having the vision to increase the field and energise this gem of a race, the race around a block.

Sahishnu Szczesiul

Results Eighth Annual Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race Jamaica,New York June 13- August 7, 2004 .5488 mile(883 meters) certified

1. Ashprihanal Aalto, 33 Helsinki, Finland 46 days+ 06:55:11 2. Kauranga Michael Peel, 37, Neusiedl, Austria 48 days+ 05:02:44 3. Smarana Puntigam,33,Vienna, Austria 49 days+ 11:12:33 4. Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk,48, Solingen, Germany 50 days+ 03:04:39 5. Arpan DeAngelo,52,Jamaica, NY USA 51 days+ 10:04:37 6. Oleg Lebedyev,34, Kiev, Ukraine 53 days+ 03:57:38 7. Rathin Matt Boulton, 31, Canberra, Australia 54 days+ 15:39:14 8. Abichal Watkins,43, Pontypool, Wales 55 days+ 08:32:41 9. Suprabha Beckjord,48, Washington,DC, USA 55 days+ 13:13:00 Vladimir Glazkov,65,Moscow, Russia 2544.2368 miles Stefan Warum,30, Heidelberg, Germany 2400.4512 miles Virendra Gauthier,52, Canada 2247.8848 miles

12 starters