August 31, 2021
In 2019, LetsRun.com did a month-long exploration of the ultramarathon sceneduring which we spent a lot of time searching for the greatest ultramarathon world record. At the end of the exploration, we declared Yiannis Kouros’ 24-hour world record of 303.31 km (188.68 miles) to be the greatest ultramarathon record in history. After all, no one else in history had even come within 21 kilometers/13 miles of it. That all changed last weekend as Aleksandr Sorokin of Lithuania broke the record by running 309.40 kilometers (192.25 miles).
It reminded us that we never published a fantastic emailed interview that Robert Johnson did with Kouros in 2019. We didn’t publish it at the time as there was a delay in getting the responses back — Kouros had some problems with his eyes as he had been busy welding iron as he worked on his house. By the time we got the responses, our ultramarathon exploration was over and Robert had stopped looking for the reply. Thus it was AWOL in his email inbox for many months until being discovered. Since then, we’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to publish it. Now is that time.
Few excerpts from that interview:
I think that my records last so long because the majority of runners believe in fitness. Ultra-running is a mental sport that touches metaphysical/spiritual aspects of the human [being] and this is the main reason why it is not for the masses. Organizers who leave it open and accepting everybody –regardless of their abilities – are wrong, using people who love running, while in those of the participants who do not belong to the sport, there is lack of self-knowledge.
There is no distance or time-limit event in which I performed with -not just ideal, but not even- good conditions, either personal or weather/course conditions
In the last few decades may they came some good runners in the scene, but I don’t follow as they really [race] based just on fitness.
27 November 2021
10:00 New York
YouTube Live Stream https://youtu.be/fi58tHhoOMA
Meeting with the 5 runners of the world’s longest 3100-Mile Race in 2021. Race took place in New York Sep5 – Oct 26
Languages: English and Russian.
Andrea Marcato, Italy
Harita Davies, USA/New Zealand
Vasu Nikolay Duzhiy, Russia
Ananda-Lahari Zuschin, Slovakia
Stutisheel Oleg Lebedev, Ukraine
Also Race Director Rupantar LaRusso, USA
The race takes place annually over a 52-day period. Traditionally, it has begun on the third Sunday in June and ending in early August, with runners traversing a .5488 mile loop around a sports field, playground, and high school in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. (In 2020, we had to cancel the race in New York, instead it took place in Salzburg, Austria under strict health supervision.)
Conceived of as both a physical and spiritual journey, the race allows athletes to test themselves in a format, unlike any other ultra-marathon. In order to meet their goal of 3100 miles in 52 days, they must log an average of 59.6 miles per day.
The Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race was conceived by Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), a spiritual teacher, athlete, artist, musician, poet, and humanitarian. His emphasis on self-transcendence and the triumph of the human spirit provides the inspiration which has powered the race since its inception.
The world’s longest certified 3100 Mile Race kicks off at 6:00 New York time on September 5th. The race takes place for the 25th time in the New York suburb, in the Jamaica, Queens, in a lap of 883 meters.
The annual Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race has been named the “Everest of Ultramarathons” by the New York Times. Runners must cover an average of 96 kilometers per day to cover 3,100 miles (4,987 km) in a 52-day deadline. Runners are given 18 hours every day – from 6 am to midnight. In the previous 24 3100 mile starts organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and the one-time 5000 km start in Athens in 2020, only 49 people were able to finish the distance.
This race is the major competition of the Sri Chinmoy International Marathon Team.
This year there are 7 runners from 7 countries at the start.
1. Andrea Marcato, 39 years, Italy (lives in Zurich, Switzerland). Winner of the Salzburg 3100 Mile Race in 2020.
2. Vasu Nikolay Duzhiy, 54 years, St. Petersburg, Russia.
8 finishes at 3100. Three-time race winner (2013, 2017, 2018)
3. Stutisheel Oleg Lebedev, 51 years old, Kiev, Ukraine. The first Ukrainian to finish the race in 2004. There are 9 finishes in total at his credit.
4. Ananda-Lahari Zuschin, 47 years, Kosice, Slovakia. 6 finishes for 3100 out of 16 starts.
5. Takasumi Seno, 39 years, Japan. Ran 4000 km in Athens in 2020. Will start 3100 Miles in New York for the first time.
6. Lo Wei Ming, 58 years, Taiwan (ROC). Holder of national records for 48 hours, six days, 1000 km, 10 days and 1000 miles. Will start 3100 Miles in New York for the first time.
1. Harita Davis, 46, Christchurch, New Zealand / USA. Holder of the national 3100 Mile Record. Has 2 finishes at the Race.
The official website of the competition www.3100.SriChinmoyRaces.org has a link to the webcams. On the website you can follow the results and you can also send a letter of support to the runners.
Stutisheel’s blog – 3100Mile Race first-hand experience available at www.3100.Lebedev.org.ua
The longest foot race in the world Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race ended on November 3, 2020, in Salzburg, Austria. Of the 5 starting athletes, three runners met the 52-day limit. Andrea Marcato became the first Italian to finish the 3100-Mile Race. He managed to finish from the first attempt and immediately took the fifth line in the world ranking of 49 athletes who had conquered the distance in 24 years. His phenomenal result – 43 days + 12:07:26. Ushika Mukenhumer from Salzburg finished second with his PB – 49 days + 11:27:55. On the last day of the race, Nirbhasha Magi from Ireland also finished with a time of 51 days + 09:41:53. Ananda-Lahari Zuschin from Slovakia and Milan Javornicki from the Czech Republic stopped on day 51, having covered 2799.603 and 2713.997 miles, respectively.
Start of the 3100-Mile Race on September 13, 2020 in Salzburg
It is worth noting that despite the general cancellation of shorter events around the world, the organizers managed to transfer the race, which has been happening since 1997 in New York, to Austria and successfully organize needed service for runners for 52 days with the support of the local authorities of Salzburg. So the series of the longest race in the world, which was first held in 1997 on the initiative and Vision of Sri Chinmoy, as a manifestation of the unlimited capacities of the human spirit, was not interrupted.
In 24 years, only 49 athletes were able to successfully complete the distance, many more times than once. So far, the record for the distance belongs to the Finnish postman Ashprihanal Aalto – 40 days + 09:06:21 (an average of 124 km per day), who has 16 successful finishes.
For all the athletes who took part, the race goes far beyond a simple competition for prizes and, along with numerous sports discoveries and nuances, includes an extensive layer of spiritual practice, mantras, and visualizations for moving forward during extreme fatigue or challenging weather conditions.
Ushika at the 3100-Mile Race
I managed to visit the race in Salzburg during the week closer to the end – this time not as a participant, but as a journalist. I noted the great attention of the organizers, helpers, and volunteers to the runners. And, of course, the familiar spirit of self-transcendence that pervades this race.
For the first time in the history of the race, the current President of the country sent a letter of support to the runners. Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen wrote in his address:
«Dear participants of the 3100 Mile Race in Salzburg!
I can’t even imagine what it’s like to go through 52 days. Yes, I like to go hiking for a few hours. But running 52 days, 118 marathons – unbelievable! What a breathtaking endurance performance! My respect is for you.
I wish all participating athletes, especially the Salzburg local hero Hubert Muckenhumer, all the best, lots of success and the necessary perseverance for the extremely challenging days of the race»
I was very pleased to once again dive into the atmosphere of one of the most challenging races in the world and interview the participants on the run.
«Besides outer challenges and suffering you can clearly feel, that gold is only here exactly here on the track. No other place, no other time as during the race. Means spiritually you can climb or dive deep into the race, into experience, into yourself only only here»
And his favourite aphorism from the Race:
“Compassion is the voice of God
Patience is the religion of action.”
Sri Chinmoy, Flame-Goal. Daily Meditations
In his second finish of three starts at 3100-Miles, Ushika looked extremely happy! His whole face was transformed. In his closing speech, he said:
«First I want to thank my Guru Sri Chinmoy, who not only created this race, but is running this race in and through us and serving this race in and all through the helpers»
I was also impressed by one of the letters that the organizers received from people who live near the park, where the race took place, or who came from afar to support the runners and get inspiration.
Letter from kindergarten teacher
«I feel profoundly honored for this outstanding activity of the Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Race. In the name of the many people I would like to describe a subtle change that I experience since the beginning of the race. At this moment one can experience a much more peaceful atmosphere because of those who hoist this event. Im very happy for those who can experience all this especially the children. This race brings out atmosphere that is not about fighting or being better, faster. It has already created a desirable future of life side by side and of togetherness. A sincere and profound heartfelt thank you to all those who are part of this event. Yes, this is a gift to the neighborhood»
Runners told many stories of support, inspiration, and even miracles that happened to them during the race. You can hear some of them in the interviews directly from the track.
Video Reports on 3100-Mile Race 2020
Although the official start of the traditional 3100 Mile Race in New York, which was scheduled for June 2020, did not take place, the organizers hoped that the race could be held at another time, possibly in a different location, but still this year. Several European and American cities have been suggested…
And in early September, it became known that the authorities of the Austrian Salzburg had given the go-ahead to hold the longest race in the world Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, from September 13 to November 3, 2020.
The athletes actually did not have time to prepare and strategically plan their vacation – five people went to the start, who turned out to be not under the pressure of other projects and who had the opportunity to come to the start in Austria.
All my active runner friends from Russia and Ukraine were unable to participate due to Austrian entry restrictions. As always, this is a whole complex of circumstances and connections (which is usually called “divine play”) – we have what we have.
Five bravest runners started in Salzburg on September 13:
- Nirbhasa Magee, 41 (IRL), living in Reykjavik, Iceland – 3 finishes, ranked 22nd
- Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, Kosice Slovakia – 6 finishes, ranked 25th
- Ushika Muckenhumer, 52, Salzburg, Austria – 1 finish, ranked 30th
- Andrea Marcato, 38 (ITA), living in Zurich, Switzeland – first time runner, two times over 1000km in 10 day race
- Milan Javornicky, 46, Celakocice, CZE – first time runner, 569 miles in ten day race
The racecourse was chosen in a picturesque place along the river – the lap is certified, the length is 1.04367 km (slightly more than our original 0.883 m in New York). Athletes need to complete 4,781 laps to finish 3,100 miles. The daily routine remains the same: the common start is at 6:00, the lap is open until 24:00. Runners rest from midnight to 6 am. There is a 52-day deadline to cover the distance.
Let’s wish them good luck!
Stay connected – let’s follow the news of the race together.
September 5, 2020, I finished in the Oceanman swim for 7.5 km in Odessa together with my wife!
In the middle of the summer, when almost all running starts were canceled, the inspiration came to join my wife, who was preparing for a 10 km swim after a not so successful start in Cherkasy across the Dnipro river. I then figured – there should be enough time to prepare for 2 months. And training began 5 days a week in the pool.
It took me a month to pick up speed, strengthen arms, and even out the balance. In August, I already confidently kept the pace of 2 min / 100 m during long swims of 4-5-6 km. I noticed from my past training sessions for a swim across Zurich Lake, with an emphasis on swimming, the shoulders and arms are strengthened, the legs are weakened) Correspondingly, the body balance in the water improves – the legs sink less and the body position is closer to the horizontal line. Our maximum swim was 8 km, and in that week we swam 26 km in total.
Now about the start itself in Odessa.
The distance was supposed to be 10 km, but due to difficult weather conditions, the organizers reduced it to 7.5 km on the day of the start. It seems the waves, wind, and rain intensified with each lap) The sea was stormy by 3 points.
We swam three laps of 2.5 km each. One stretch directly against the wind and waves with burunches was something! Despite having already swum 10 km in Miami and 26 km on Zurich Lake, conditions in the Black Sea were the most challenging.
But everything went very cool! Immensely happy! Swam in 3:04 (pace 2: 27/100 m or 2.4 km / h), Irina – in 3:20. She was attacked by seasickness, as in Cherkasy. The pills she had stocked up didn’t work very well …
Although I did not expect much from the organization (according to the stories of the participants of past starts), practically everything turned out to be ok. Of course, I would put more buoys for a reference point, otherwise, there were only four large buoys in the corners on the 2.5 km lap in the sea with waves. And even they were not always visible because of the waves! Plus the 5 km swim (they had two laps, and we had three) started when many of the 7.5 km swimmers finished the first lap. I got into the cyclone of the mess)
I was ready to swim another lap to a full ten! Sped up at the end. Although when I got out of the water, I realized that I did my best and was tired.
Super positive drive! Several times I caught myself thinking that I got the flow and made friends with the sea)
Another self-transcendence! As a result, we also won prizes in our age category 50-59 (Irina – the first, I – the third) and perfectly presented the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.
The fullness of life is in motion!
I never thought that I would be asked the question about the secret of youth )
And the situation was such that the young team of the company that I lead (average age is 26 years) was shocked that I turned 50. They found out that by the fact that on my birthday I ran 50 km. And when I appeared in the office, they surrounded me and bombarded me with questions about how I was so well preserved )
I was happy to share the drive of my life.
I have two secrets: sports and meditation.
The fact that sport has become an integral part of my life I owe to my parents. Camping, kayaking, and then the ski racing – all this built a wonderful foundation for my passion for ultra-long distances. I like to be in shape and catch a flow on long runs, bikes and swims. That is why I say that the fullness of life is in motion.
Since ’91, meditation has entered my life. It is not just about calming your mind, visualization, affirmation, and so forth. This is the original purpose of meditation as a tool in self-knowledge, self-discovery. But also – as access to the Source of inexhaustible energy, motivation and a way to solve the most diverse problems of life. From overcoming ultra-long distances to solving non-standard situations in management.
The secret is in energy. When we are full of energy, we are dynamic and we use time to do many things — we don’t complain, we don’t feel pain — we fly and are full of joy. In contrast, when we experience lack of energy – even our long-forgotten injuries make themselves felt, all our weaknesses come to the fore as if they are ruling us – we complain about life, lose faith in ourselves and blame others for our failures.
Let me share a few things about the secret of energy. I’ll start from the “side of the sun” – with a story that happened during the 3100-mile race in 2014 when I set my personal best by finishing the race in 48 days + 03:57:19
At the end of the race, super doctor Kausal from Italy came to help us. Besides the fact that he is an excellent Ayurvedic doctor, a homeopath and – he is well versed in classical Western medicine. So, at the next express reception, Kausal runs his hands over my body, finds the blocking points, starts working, and suddenly says: you know, you are now in an amazing state. Everything is harmonious with you: you receive and transfer all the energy that comes from above into the physical. This energy, these vibrations that live in you – they are not only of a high order, but they are also healing!
So, when the Power comes from above, when you are full of energy when you have high vibrations, it fills life with deep joy, gives an impulse to dreams and new ideas and breathes new life into the physical body. In other words, every time we experience deep or high meditations, every time we manage to draw Energy from Above or through infinite Grace, joy, delight, bliss come upon us – each time it incredibly nourishes the physical body, straightens wrinkles, gives stamina, renews our cells. This is the secret.
But still the question remains – how to achieve this state? Through meditation – obviously yes. Through sports, catching the silence of the mind during long races, plunging into a flow of energy, attracting Grace from Above with your aspiration-cry – definitely yes. But there is one more thing.
The joy that we sometimes experience in mundane life from a successful purchase, from a salary day, from a delicious dinner and so on – cannot be compared with the inner happiness that we experience pleasing our soul. In other words, if we perform actions that are sanctioned by our soul and please it, our soul gives us an experience of joy that easily surpasses all our “earthly” joys together. Somewhere in the depths of the heart, we know what will please our soul. To sharpen this feeling and understanding, we invoke an ancient art of meditation.
It happened to me after the completion of various projects aimed at the progress of people: the first Peace Run in Western Ukraine, the “Song of the Soul” concert in the October Palace, the signing of the declaration “Ukraine – Sri Chinmoy Peace Nation”, the installation of the Sri Chinmoy Statue in Kyiv, the finish in 3100-mile race…
He who is happy is young.
One who is full of energy is preserving youth.
He who knows how to please his soul – flies.
July 21, 2019, at 7 am in Zurich, I started in my second IRONMAN.
I was pleasantly surprised that there was no rush in the starting corridor. All athletes carefully and without crush and emotions dispersed into groups of their expected swim time. Unlike my first start in the USA, it was also pleasant to have soft music and a calm voice of the MC. With a Swiss precision at 6:40 pro athletes started, and at 6:45 a rolling start began – 8 people every 5 seconds. And for the promised 20 minutes, all 2100 participants were already in the water!
Swimming took place in the rain, quite normally – it was one lap of 3.8 km on Lake Zurich, near the downtown. I swam evenly – my Garmin showed 4102 m instead of 3800 and time of 1:21:15 (1: 59/100 m pace).
In the pouring rain, we started the bicycle stage, so I did not apply any sunscreen …
On the first flat stretch of 20 kilometers, I kept a speed of about 34.5 km / h – once again I was happy for the rented wheels. This time – Vittoria brand. In general, Race Day Wheels service is very common in the USA, but in Europe, I almost gave up founding it. A week before the start, I accidentally found contacts of the Kyiv company that offered to transport bicycles to start in Poland. It turned out that they rent the wheels as well.
We drove two laps of 90 km. To be honest, I expected more from the asphalt pavement of the Swiss highway … After a flat stretch near Zurich, real alpine ascents and descents began! Moreover, the slopes also often turned, and we were constantly slowed down by volunteers – either a narrow place or a sharp turn. I managed to accelerate to the maximum 57.7 km / h versus 74.4 in Louisville. And of course – the protracted serpentine rises – the total altitude gain was 1600 m!! If on the first lap I still overtook someone on the climbs, as I included special training in the hills during preparation, then in the future many people caught up with me on the even areas. On the second lap the sun came out and my shoulders were well roasted – I would say almost to the embers! The color was exactly black)
And here on the dead legs after the bicycle stage, which took 6 hours and 41 minutes to complete (175 km according to Garmin), I run out to the marathon distance. In transit – a small climb to the bridge. And I understand that there are no legs) They just refuse to gain altitude.
But after running half the marathon I came to life a bit. 37 years of running didn’t pass in vain …
The running track passed through the central part of the city – mostly asphalt, sometimes paving stones, sometimes pebbles (on the embankment in the park). I was also slightly surprised by the 4-laps track laid on different surfaces. In the central streets, we ran past restaurants and cafes, where the inhabitants were relaxing with meals and drinks, occasionally cheering us. Like, come on.
This time everything was ok with nutrition – all my sports mix, shot blocks and gels worked perfectly. Just because of the difficult bicycle phase, everything turned out slower than I wanted. I sped up on the last lap and flew into the finish gate with a total time of 12:49:02.
At the briefing the day before, when the rules were explained to us, blue and yellow penalty cards for drafting and incorrect overtaking (then you stopped 5 minutes or 1 minute in special tents – I was lucky), the facilitator made a great emphasis on our finish. “Do not ruin your finish! Do not try to press the button on the clock in time! Smile! ”. And I even rehearsed before the mirror as I would cross the finish line) At the very finish, everything really flew out of my head. But then traditionally they made a photo with a medal on the background of the branded wall. It seemed to me that I was just shining in a wide smile! What happened in reality – see below)
In general, a difficult start, a big challenge – almost 13 hours of intense work on an average heart rate of 140 (on the hills I reached 175 bpm). But this Swiss peak is taken! I got to the last start of Zurich Ironman – from next year, after 23 starts, they move to a different place.