Other Sports Magazine

Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 Day Races 2013

By Abichal @Multidays

6_10_2013World Class International Ultrarunners Coming to New York/ Spring!

As I am watching Pope Benedict’s helicopter carry him kilometers and kilometers away from the Vatican, the realization that tomorrow is March 1st and Spring is just around the corner struck me.

Spring in Greater New York City means lush green grass and buds on the many leafy trees that densely fill the many famous New York City parks. Balsam firs that have stayed a slightly off-green all winter suddenly take on a brighter luster.

This coming weekend many of the fastest ultrarunners in the USA will converge on scenic but windy Caumsett Park for the National 50Km Championship. Just a few miles up the road to the west, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, race officials from the New York Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (SCMT) are out checking on the condition of the famous 1+ mile loop along Meadow Lake that will be used soon for the 18th annual Self-Transcendence 10 Day race and concurrent 16th annual 6 day event. Mayor Bloomberg just this past week signed a bill (introduced by marathoner/ City Council member Jim Gennaro, who has often cheered the multiday runners in Queens) that would greatly modernize and improve storm drainage in the city parks. Any runner who has competed in various New York parks, but especially Flushing Meadows, can appreciate this act!

Meanwhile, the Russians are coming!!! And so are the Ukrainians, and the Slovakians and Slovenians, and the Australians and New Zealanders and Swiss and Finns and so many other international runners. In 2012 this was the USA’s MOST INTERNATIONAL ultra, with exactly twenty (20) countries represented among the 81 starters. In Europe as well as South Africa, Russia, and parts of Asia, multiday racing (both go-as-you-please and stage events) are as popular as ever. In these events, the camaraderie that develops between athletes who may share only a few words of a common language is IMMENSE– far surpassing anything experienced at any type of trail or shorter (24 hours or less) ultra. Every runner should get to experience this MAGIC once in their career.

Heading the entries for the 10 day in NY (starts April 17 at high noon) is Australia’s Martin Fryer, who has done over 500 miles in 6 days, 160+ miles in 24 hours, and who won the New York 6 day in 2010. Neither defending men’s (Smilin’ Yuri Trostenyuk) nor women’s champion (Australia’s Sarah Barnett) will be back to defend their 10 day crowns as both are entered in the much tougher 17th annual 3100 mile (5000Km) race which commences on Father’s Day in June on a different course several miles south of Flushing Meadows. Also returning to the 3100 (after a year’s hiatus) will be many-time champ and 11-time finisher, the very outgoing Finnish TV personality Asprihanal Pekka Aalto.

While so many international runners flock to these races, USA participation is a bit more limited, at least at the top end. New York City’s Dipali C. Cunningham, who holds the American road 6 day record, will be back to try to extend her win streak at this event to 16 straight– a remarkable achievement. Quebec, Canada’s Michel Gouin will return to defend his over-50 title. One world class US road ultra runner told me frankly that he has “real fear of this race. I mean, if I run all out, it might take me years to get any speed back.” (I pointed out many examples of runners such as Wolfgang M. Schwerk, Yiannis Kouros, Dipali and others who within a few months of finishing these multidays were running very fast shorter ultras and marathons).

Armchair followers may see these races progress via the Sri Chinmoy Races website, Multiday Running and the Perfection Journey blog. And remember– on paper 50, 60 or however many miles a day may look easy, but out there in the heat of battle and amidst the often rough weather of Flushing, every mile is hard-earned. I urge anyone who lives anywhere within 100 miles of the races to consider coming out and cheering the runners and doing a long workout in the park (I plan to be helping out at the races, and will be happy to buy you a cup of tea or coffee!) The botanical gardens, which the runners pass not 100 meters from at the half mile mark of the loop, are at their most lush and inspiring at that time of year. Many wild animals ranging from skunks to muskrats to deer have been seen along the course (generally on warm nights).

Best wishes to all ultrarunners around the globe,

Mark D

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