Campbell, Malcolm. “Three Conquer The Sri Chinmoy 1,300 Miler. The Ultra Trio”. The IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) Newsletter, Winter Edition, 1990. Reprinted with permission from the author.
"They finally did it, they finally ran 1,300 miles in 18 days. It has been said by many knowledgeable sources, including Frank Shorter, that it could not be done. Extend the cutoff. Shorten the race. But no, three stalwart runners did it. Three marathons a day, for 18 days. In Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, NY.
Al Howie, the wiry Scotsman who four years ago defied death in the form of a brain tumour, set his sights on the Sri Chinmoy Ultra Trio (which began on September 18, a combination of a 700 miler, 1,000 miler and 1,300 miler un simultaneously with staggered starts)...Al is a top 24 hour/100 miler in the Canadian and European circuits, and has done many solo journeyman runs up to 750 miles, often to benefit charities. He has done one multi-day, the Sri Chinmoy 7 Day in May (1989) and about 180 miles a week. A 2:26 marathoner, he has speed and he has grit. ‘I’ve learned to be a surviror’, was his summary of the record-shattering win. ‘I guess that’s what most of us are. That’s really what it’s all about’. He brought no handler, devised no schedule, sustained no injuries, and had no doubts about his ability to win this race. He simply ran, and ran, and ran.
Thirty miles behind him throughout the race, in a symbiotic relationship which would pull from in front and push from behind, was Stefan Schlett, West German professional adventurer... ‘He’s incredibly courageous’, Al said of Schlett, ‘and nothing can stop him’. Stefan maintained a quick pace with frequent rests throughout the race, and lost his second place with only 24 hours to go, to Australian high school science teacher, Ian Javes. On the penultimate day they were neck and neck, and Ian finally pulled ahead completing the distance in 17 days and 22 hours. Stefan was within 18 minutes of the 18 day cutoff with 17 days, 23 hours and 42 minutes.
The only woman in the 1,300 mile division was Christine Vollmerhausen, a 55 year old West German who has also conquered cancer through diet, 12 years ago. A remarkable will was her trademark, as she continued without any sleep at all for the first six days, setting a German and world age-group record and continued from there to reach the 1,000 mile mark in 16 days and 11 ½ hours, a European, German and age-group record and the fourth fastest time for women ever. A very unique runner, she prayed her rosary as she ran, and practiced a yogic breathing technique which was so powerful that rarely was she seen in more than a cotton singlet in that often cold, rainy span of fall, even when sleeping beneath a thin blanket under the stars.
Other notable performances included the two women in the 1,000 mile division, Suprabha who broke the world record for women by 27 minutes, by running her last 24 hours (after 14 grueling days on the track) without any break (14 days, 20 hours and 18 minutes), and Antana Locs (Canada) who placed third among women’s best times (15 days, 12 ½ hours). The winner of the 1,000 mile race was John Wallis in 14 days, 9 hours and 45 minutes – a retired school principal who began running at age 42, and recorded the 12th best men’s 1,000 mile time ever and a veteran’s record.
The 700 mile race featured four finishers, and was won by Noivedya Brower in 11 days, 17 hours and 57 minutes."