About the author:

Rupantar has been the race director of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team since 1985, having been asked by Sri Chinmoy to serve in that capacity. As well as working on the big races the US Marathon Team organise each year - the 3100 Mile Race and the Six and 10 Day Race - he also spends a considerable amount of time archiving the Marathon Team's 40 year history on this website.

Unable to race this year, legendary ultrarunner Mark Dorion has been a much-valued part of our race crew

April 29, 2012. I came back on duty at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, trying to stay warm and work the giant scoreboard.  Record high winds on Friday played havoc with the large scoreboard numbers, some of which got blown 20 yards away into the bike path on which the runners passed. On several nights, both at the computer and the scoreboard, it seemed as if the numbers were "coming to life" and moving around of their own avail, sometimes spinning around in circles in front of my eyes.  Having now run in many multiday races and worked this one, I can say the sleep deprivation of working and running were about the same for me.  Obviously my body is not so sore and beaten up as it would have been had I been racing, though I AM sore, especially in my back.

At 6 a.m., women's 10 day leader Sarah Barnett was less than one mile ahead of course record-holder Kaneenika Janakova.  Try to imagine a race in which you have been on the move for most of 234 HOURS, and then having to summon a "sprint."  I have great admiration for both women; they are truly world-class ultrarunners and both had endured their share of challenges during this year's event.  Sarah threw in several 10:00 miles on the final morning to win with a PR 697 miles to Kaneenika's 692.  This means that in the past year Sarah has won multiday races in such disparate and exotic locales as Athens, Greece, Monaco, and now New York City. Their historic see-saw battle, spread out over 10 days, saw neither of them ever run together.  Kaneenika tends to sleep much less but keep moving steadily, whereas Sarah sometimes needed 4 alarms/ wake-up calls before she could wake, whereupon she would jump right into much faster-paced miles.
 
The men's 10 day was won by "Smilin' Yuri T" (Yuri Trostenyuk) with a PR 731 miles.  One interesting aspect of this year's races was that many runners PRed or achieved very good distances despite some days of hurricane-like weather.  I attribute this to the competitve fields and fast running loop.  In the men's 6 day, Vladimir Galya Balatskyy won with a PR 481 miles over fast-finishing Finn (no pun intended) Asprihanal Pekka Aalto (470), who was timed in some 9:00 miles (how many runners can finish a 50 or 100 mile race with 9 minute miles, let alone do this after 450 miles?)  Dipali Cunningham won the women's race with 438 miles over up-and-coming Jayaslini Olga Abramoviskil (408).  I have seen Dipali in many races over the years, and was struck by her effort in this race more than in most others.  She seemed to have her share of physical problems from early on (like me, she does not like racing in arctic conditions), but somehow kept moving at a steady pace.  Race officials could see her coming from quite a ways out as she was generally heavily-bundled up with only her eyes visible in her face.
 
Two senior US runners, Pete Stringer and Luis Rios, deserve mention.  At age 70 and five days after running the Boston Marathon, Pete tied his PR of 332 miles set many years ago in much milder weather. He looked strong till the end.  I did daily errands around town for the runners;  Pete's daily request was for the sports section of USA TODAY or the TIMES.  Luis is one of the USA's all-time most prolific ultra racers, with several 24 hours over 140 miles.  Hampered by back problems in recent years, he got to celebrate his 64th birthday with his fellow competitors, mutliple birthday cakes and rousing verses of "Happy Birthday"
 
I shall compose a longer article later, but right now my kids (who are here with me) are telling me we are off to the Queens Zoo and historic carousel (both of which are just across the Grand Central Parkway from the 6/10 day course).
 
Best wishes to all ultrarunners, and as race coordinator Sahishnu Szczesiul wished everyone at the close of the awards ceremony, "May the wind be always at your back."
 


April 27 I am on a short break from helping out at the Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 day event in Flushing Meadows, NYC.  I have been on duty since 1 a.m. The super-high winds (which show no signs of abating) that blew all night have played havoc with tents, chairs, gear, cones, etc.  But the USA's MOST international ultra field is toughing it out, in this case transcending every challenge Mother Nature has thrown their way

Defending overall 10 day champ/ record-holder Kaneenika Janakova, who lives in New York City, is in a nip-and-tuck battle with Australia's legendary multiday runner Sarah Barnett.  Both have been within 3 miles (one way or the other) of each other for the past 12+ hours.  They have have been throwing in surges at 10:00 mile pace, have taken only very short (1 hour at most) sleep breaks, and seem poised for a race to the wire (noon Saturday).  As of 10 a.m. both were around 620 miles, a remarkable pace given the rough weather.  This is the worst several-days stretch of weather New York and the northeast have seen since prior to the recent 6+ weeks of record-warmth and sunshine.

The ever-popular Smilin' Yuri Trostenyuk of the Ukraine is on a fantastic pace in the men's 10 day, with 660 miles as of late morning.  Over 700 miles is a truly world class performance for 10 days, perhaps comparable to 150+ miles in 24 hours, or a sub-13 hour 100 mile (that is just my very rough, amateur comparison).For example, women's 6 day road world record holder Dipali C. Cunningham, Esq. has run 723 miles in 10 days, comparable to her 513+ mile 6 day PR/ record.  Speaking of Dipali, she is chasing the top men in the 6 day race, where Galya Vladimir Balatskyy keeps staying about 10 miles ahead of Scotland's William Sichel.  Asprihanal Pekka Aalto, known for his tremendous finishing speed (e.g., 100+ miles in the final 24 hours of a 6 day) is within strking distance.

There are various websites/ blogs/ newspapers covering the race daily-- one excellent one is  www.multidays.com    Or the srichinmoyraces site. The NEW YORK TIMES, a film crew from Finland, another from Russia, and also noted American independent filmaker Alexander Hamlin (see  www.worldrunfilm.com  )   have all been covering the race daily. TO ALL U.S ULTRARUNNERS-- this is a BIG race, followed by ultrarunners all over the world.  Multiday races have been going on since the 1870s.  What else can I say??

I am off to pick up my family at LaGuardia Airport, then get back to the race to help work the giant scoreboard, fill cups of water, and encourage ALL runners.

 


 

April 25, 2012. Standings at aprox. 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday (start of day 4 of 6 day, day 8 of 10 day)
 
10 day men:
1)  Yuri Trostneyuk,  532 miles
2) Vasu Duzhiy, 527
3) A.L. Zuzcin, 439
4) Teekshanum Dodonu, 424
5) Oleksandr Kharko, 416
 
10 day women:
1)  Kaneenika Janakova, 503 miles
2)  Sarah Barnett, 492
3)  Nidhruvi Zimmerman, 438
4)  Zuzca Daclova, 435
5)  Ilvaka Nemcova, 426
 
6 Day women:
1)  Dipali C. Cunningham, 252 miles
2)  Jayaslini Olga Abramovskih, 200+
3)  Daria Iashina, 195
4)  Suparna Pathegwa, 165
5)  Prati. Khisamoutdanova (age 67), 163
 
6 Day Men: 
 
Galya Vladimir Balatskyy, 271 miles
2)  William Sichel, 265
3)  Asprihanal Pekka Aalto, 245
4)  Jesper Olsen, 228
5)  Upak. Tolstoypachenko, 220
 
AND you may ask, what of the Americans in the 80+ runner field with runners from 20 countries?  Again, I can't overemphasize that these are TOP international ultrarunners.  We didn't really have any current star US ultrarunners entered (we do have some who were top class 20-30 years ago, but are a tad older and slower now).  Of those who started, Don Winkley and Mike Arnstein got in their vans and left early.  Tim Lawson dropped out for half a day with stomach problems but was coerced into rejoining the race.  Fred Davis was seen packing his van today.  Etc.
 
I WILL predict that some of our current top 100Km runners, who just shined so brightly at the World Champs in Italy, will eventually try multiday races and will represent the USA as well as they did in Italia.  Plenty of the top foreign runners at this week's races have run good 100Kms, 2:30-ish marathons, etc.
 
I will have longer and more exciting stories to share on Saturday evening, when the races are over.  I see some of the races going neck-and-neck down to the wire, and a bunch of fast 8+ minute miles on the last day.
 
An example of the types of things that happen at an event like this-- today runners found their bike path BLOCKED by a brand new Lexus car.  The TV crew were filming an ad with scenic Meadow Lake in the background.  Race director Rupantar P. LaRusso, ever the smooth-talking diplomat, ran out and confronted this crew and after explaining these multiday challenges to the film crew, Rupantar was given a one week use of a Lexus from the dealership here! Dr. LaRusso is also famous in local circles as the guy who goes into the same Dunkin' Donuts night after night in the middle of the night and brings back two dozen donuts plus coffee and hot chocolate to the graveyard shirt workers.  It is cold and sometimes very rushed/ stressful during the night, but we have a great core crew.
 
There have been several other film crew out, one from Finland filming Coach Aalto, another filming top Russian runners (including world class mountaineer and adventurer Daria Iashina).  Jepser Olsen, he of the World Run, has had telephone interviews from his sponsors during the race.
 
It is MOST exciting to watch world class runners performing at their best, stalking each other like hawks (perhaps vultures is more apt!), but also getting to know new friends from around the world.  I wish the USA were not so isolated geographically, and we could have more different nations' particpants at our big ultras.
 
I myself have gotten caught up in the spirit of the race and the spirit of Sri Chinmoy's philosophies on racing extreme ultras, and have run more the past 5 days than in any 5 day block since early December.  I feel as though the ghosts of Guru Chinmoy, Ted Corbitt, and all the great 19th century multiday runners are watching us all-- runners and workers alike.
 
If you have never volunteered and encouraged the runners in a tough ultra, I suggest you try it.  It leaves a warm feeling in the heart. And if you ever considered a multiday, consider coming to historic Flushing Meadows.  You will be treated like royalty.
 
"Encouragement is the heart of a new journey."   -Sri Chinmoy
 
I am bleary-eyed after working the graveyard shift (1>8 a.m.) in the officials' booth (updating scoreboard, keeping track of wayward runners, announcing using mike, etc.).  Then I work in the early morning helping with general chores like pouring water, doing errands to nearby shops for runners ("fine European chocolate" has been a popular request, as well as new pairs of shoes).  Eye of the tiger!
 

 

April 22, 2012. Yesterday (Saturday), 70 miles or so north of New York City, one of the USA's older and most historic ultras happened on the super-steep hills of Carmel where Sybil Ludington rode her horse all night warning locals that "The British are Coming!" (sound familiar?)
 
      Back in the Big Apple, world class women runners emulated Sybil's all-night ride with some fast late night laps, done in everything from mild, balmy conditions to torrential, sideways, wind-driven rain.  Meadow Lake is over 1 mile long, and winds tend to come howling up from the south to the north end, where the 10 Day and 6 Day runners circle a 1+ mile long bike path loop.
 
    Kaneenika Janakova (one of the more overlooked ultrarunners in North America, for what my opinion is worth) and Australia's legendary Sarah Barnett threw in 11-12 minute miles (try this after you have already run 265+ miles in 3.5 days ...) cruised around the course, sometimes joined by "Smilin' Yuri T.," a world class Ukrainian runner who has won this race outright with 696 miles.  While he speaks little English, Yuri always has time to slow, smile, wave and give a thumb's up to every runner he passes.  For shoe enthusiasts out there, I noted that Kaneenika wore minimalist, zero/ limited-drop shoes from Altra and Saucony, Sarah had on heavier and more cushy Nike Vomero/ Pegasus (with toe box totally cut out), and Yuri wore a weatherbeaten, chewed up pair of Mizuno Wave Riders.  In other words, anything goes and to each their own!
 
    There was at least one confirmed skunk sighting on the course (the race borders the Queens Botanical Gardens and thick woods).  Reports of a tall WOLF running along the path have not been confirmed by reliable reporters.
 
   As I am working the graveyard shift and also helping out during the day between naps and a few miles of my own, there may be slight errors in some of the above.  For updated scoreboard standings, please refer to the Self-Trans website         (www.srichinmoyraces    )
 
   The FOOD at the race is the best I have ever tasted at this or any other race, and I aplogize for forgetting the name of the charming professional New Zealand chef who is in charge.  I am told she has appeared on the Food Network's International edition.
 
   Congratulations to the USA 100Km Team in Italy, the 50Km runners at the Sybil Ludington, and all the multiday runners in Flushing Meadows, Queens. 
 
 
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