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.

Staton-Carter, Laurie. "Thoroughly Enjoying Multi-Day Racing". Ultrarunning. March 1989. The following is reprinted by permission from the Publisher, John Medinger

Pippa Davis - Thoroughly Enjoying Multi-Day Racing by Laurie Staton-Carter

img176.jpgHave you ever wondered how multi-day runners can stand running the same loop - mile after mile, hour after hour, day after day - for six or seven days? Ask this question of rising multi-day star Pippa Davis and she will describe those very same aspects of a multi-day race in a positive way. 'The reason I enjoy runs on a set loop is because it takes mental concentration, (inner) peace, patience, and self-control not to get bored or upset by the same scene!' Pippa Davis, 41, ran a total of 509 miles in the Sri Chinmoy Inaugural Seven-Day Race held last October 14-21, with a six-day total of 450, good enough to put her in a solid place on the women's all-time six-day list. Formerly of Great Britain and currently a resident of Westford, Massachusetts, Pippa has been running ultras for six of her twelve years of running. Probably in part due to her dedication to variety in her training, in the past eight years she has been injury-free.

Pippa's regular training schedule is remarkably straightforward, and includes such a varied regimen that it seems more like regularly scheduled recreation rather than serious training. She averages about 40-50 miles per week of walking, 'plus one to two miles of swimming and three hours of aerobics per week all year round.' She also includes one to two hours a week of pool aerobics and four to five hours per week of cross-country skiing during the winter months. She does 'about four marathons each year and lots of short (under 13 miles) races for training.' Pippa emphatically states that including other sports as a part of her training is a critical part of her training.

img196.jpgIn April of 1988, she ran the "JOGLE", the length of Great Britain (John O'Groats to Land's End) - 870 miles - in 14 days and four hours. The run served not only as a great "tune-up" for the Seven Day, but as a fundraiser for bone-marrow transplants in Great Britain. It was her only major ultradistance run this year preceding her Seven-Day performance. In 1988 she ran two ultras over five days in length, plus four or more marathons, and 'lots of other shorter events.'

Photo: The start of the 1988 Sri Chinmoy 7 Day Race, October 14-21, 1988. Pippa: standing, second from end on right.

Going into the Seven-Day, Pippa's plan was "to do a steady 20-hour day - about five-and-one-half miles per hour if possible, with a proper sleep the first three or four nights, then more short breaks" and only about four miles per hour the last two days, if necessary. "The goal was a 75-mile-per-day average - I did want to do 500 miles or more total. I did 90 the first day, 80 the second, and so on. The "worst" day was a 59 on the seventh day." She was able to run 73 miles on day three, 77 miles on day four, 60 miles on day five, and 70 miles on day six. Pippa was able to stick very closely to her original plan, even though she did more miles the first two days. She  settled into a good rhythm and ended up with a 72.7 mile-per-day average. She did not alter her original plan much and even stuck to her pre-planned sleep schedule. Pippa was able to stick to her plan because, "(1) It was right for me; (2) The weather was perfect; and (3) I was confident that it would work."

Pippa considers "continuous, whole-body training" to be the most important aspect of training to run multi-day races. Her own training is an example of the varied workouts with upper-body strength equally combined with the aerobic fitness that she recommends. As far as racing goes, she emphasizes that attitude is the most important factor in actually running a multi-day event. "I always go into the race expecting to enjoy it - even through the bad times."

img129_0.jpgShe describes her strongest attribute as her positive attitude, her ability to "stay happy whatever happens - the weather, injuries, and mileage cannot depress me." Sounds like the key to a satisfying life, not just a race. Pippa claims that "not being prepared to push myself to the breaking point - there's always another race!" as her weak point, but her attitude only illustrates a resilient and upbeat frame of mind.

Photo: The runners gather at the scoreboard after the completion of the Sri Chinmoy 7 Day Race, October 14-21, 1988. Pippa: sitting, second from right.

Pippa's recovery from the Seven-Day consisted of a 'soak in hot spa water two times a day for the first three days, aspirin, walking around, doing stretching exercises a little, but NO RUNNING! I wait until I feel fresh and relaxed before starting running again - usually I am back to normal training in one or two weeks. After the Seven-Day, I waited one week before running; two weeks later I ran 3:48 at the Cape Cod Marathon. The next weekend I ran the Boston Peace Marathon in 3:44, in pouring rain, felt excellent, and had no after-effects - I was running two days later!'

Pippa has a reputation at Flushing Meadows Park (in New York, where the Sri Chinmoy Races are held) for setting up a tent that is known as the “Hilton.” Her “home” for the races she runs there. 'I like to bring everything I can think of to a multi-day – whether it’s -10 degrees or 90 degrees, I want to have the appropriate clothes! – My “home” for the race has a table, chair, and bed and clothes – I become very attached to it and like seeing it there on every one-mile-loop! I have to add that without the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team I can do ultras (e.g. the JOGLE in Great Britain) but they make their races both enjoyable and professional. They give runners the 100% support needed to do the best race possible under any conditions.'

Pippa finished her course work to complete her master’s degree in December, 1988. She works as a Fitness Consultant, and feels that her 'running helps to show that fitness is very important to me but not the only thing that is important in my life. When I run, I do it for fun, fitness, and as a good example to others. I will always put my family first, when I have to do something with them instead. But, they know how important health depends on my doing the long distance races.'

Pippa has solid support for her sport through her close friends and family. Her husband, Richard, a VP of computer sales, is very supportive of her running. In addition "he likes me to be fit, race, and do ultras, and he accepts my need to be away from home to compete." ...

Will Pippa ever step off the roads and apply her talents to an ultra on the trails? 'Yes, but only short ones. I am not happy out in the middle of nowhere, usually alone and not sure if the trail is marked clearly! She then adds, 'I hope we get a race across America soon - that is my next major goal!' Pippa's positive attitude and high energy level is infectious. What does Pippa enjoy most about multi-day racing? 'The people! I love getting to know the runners - there is a very special bond between us by the end of the race. Also, the organizers and the helpers - I wish they were given trophies for their work.' She says she 'likes running with people who are proving to themselves that they can overcome illness, past unhealthy behavior, depression, or just low self-esteem - multi-days are the ultimate challenge.' "