People That Make Me Look Normal, #5

Right now, the world’s longest certified foot race in the world is taking place just a few miles from me in Queens. 100 mile ultra-marathons seem to push the edge of impossible; multi-stage races, like the 320 mile Yukon Ultra, seem insane. So what do you call the Self-Trancendence 3,100 Mile Race?

Yes, that comma is in the right place, and those are two zeros at the the end: 3,100 miles. Participants have 52 days to complete the distance, which means maintaining at least 60+ miles a day for nearly 2 months, and in the middle of summer here in NYC. Oh, and because that doesn’t sound crazy enough, the entire distance consists of 5,649 laps of a .5488 mile loop in Flushing Meadows Park.  The race was created by Sri Chimoy, an ultra-runner/guru (or cult leader, depending on whom you ask) as a testament to the human spirit and it seems most of the runners who tackle this monumental challenge are doing so as much out of a spiritual quest for self-transcendence as anything else.

Unsurpisingly, it is not a crowded field.  This year, only 10 runners are competing, and in the 15 years since it was first held, just over 100 runners have finished the race.  The current record holder is Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk, who in 2006 completed the 3,100 mile in 41 days, 08:16:29, which meant running an average of 75 miles a day for over 41 days.

Maybe I’ll trek out to Flushing Meadows with the kids sometime this summer before the race is over and check it out, get some pictures.  And although 3,100 miles seems insane to me, its just a more dramatic example of what I do with my running: meditation, self-trancendence, a metaphor for life, written with your feet.



About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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