This year's Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 Day Races in New York's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are over, but in my heart and dreams they continue...I am currently washing two week's worth of dirty laundry and chasing my kids around the yard.
A longer report is forthcoming, and hopefully should appear in ULTRARUNNING magazine, on multidays.com, and in ULTRARUNNING WORLD ( European ultra magazine).
Some brief notes (made in sloppy scrawl during long flight home to El Paso)
I wore out/trashed four pairs of Asics DS Trainers (2010 model), two my normal size 11.5, two size 12. I also finished off a pair of adidas adizero aces (this in a mere 520 miles of running). Note that those shoes all weigh less than 10.8 ounces in size 11.5 according to my scale. I had a pair of adidas supernovas (heavier, 12 ounces), but they were too stiff and hurt my feet after two miles. I wear all these shoes in training and in trail races too. Generally, I have trained and raced in lighter shoes for the past 39 years--but that's just me.
This was the first race in my life (200+ ultras, and an additional 800+ races dating back to 1971) where I have had a shoe sucked off my foot by aggressive mud! And this was a "road" race. Suffice it to say the south little loop along Meadow Lake was a mudbowl, and also featured ankle deep ice water and floating foot bridges at times.
Once again I am in AWE of the work put in by The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. Without the expert medical help of Dr. Meghabhuti, chiropractors Mitch, and Garesh, message therapists Yuri and Tomas, Nurse Bahula, I could not have stayed healthy and moving. One European runner and I remarked how some USA runners who were running themselves further and further into injuries still avoided going to the medical tent (European runner to me: "Why Americans don't go to doctor?!" Certainly the worst injuries in the races all befell Americans, and I count my blessings I was not among them.
Without the round-the-clock gourmet food cooked up by Nandana Lynn, Sushovita, and Crew, I would have run out of steam (there was never once a shortage of food, even when cold, wet runners crowded the cafeteria grabbing like wild wolves at anything hot and savory). As hard as their running task will be, my friends in the 3100 mile this summer will also get to enjoy the repasts of these wonderful, always-smiling chefs. Also Shakti, Nandana's 8 year old daughter, provided endless energy and entertainment for the runners (one night I swore there was a cardboard box moving slowly across the path--it turned out that a certain 8 year old girl was inside the box playing a joke on tired runners! Ha!).
One person in particular whom I feel doesn't always get the credit he deserves is Bipin Larkin, the athlete village architect, lead carpenter/electrician/plumber. He and his small but tireless crew (Pavol, Asankita, Rajpal and others) could be seen out in their heavy yellow fisherman's coveralls in the teeth of the worst storms, pumping out overflows, replacing cones and barrricades, hauling gas canisters and supplies back and forth, fixing leaks -- and seemingly never sleeping. I met Bipin almost 30 (thirty) years ago at a wonderful wintertime marathon he directed along the New Hampshire seacoast (it was cold but less stormy there in February than it was in April this year in Flushing Meadows!).
Some folks have asked me how the 10 day was different from the 6 day, and my initial response is -- it was just longer! The last two days in particular dragged for me, and I missed my home and family, but then again the wonderful group of international runners and helpers at the race are like family too. Also, after 40 years of running, racing, my body does not recover from day to day as in my never-tiring youth.
One recent list topic I thought about during the race was Yiannis Kouros's opinion thta real ultras--REALLY going beyond the marathon--start at 24 hours. I have run some very tough trail 50kms and 50 miles, BUT must admit I hear what Yiannis is saying. Running for days requires other skills not needed in a shorter ultra. A multiday is doable by anyone with enough determinationb and some decent training, but the ongoing mental battle is different from a race lassting less than 24 hours. I do feel certain "spiritual" and philosophical approached are needed in such an unimagineably long event (see my interview with Utpal Marshall on "Perfection Journey" blogsite).
My race ended Thursday at noon, but my next two days in New York were anything but restful. Friday I saw one of my favorite people, Don Winkley,we off (we managed to make it the 1/2 mile to the nearest Holiday Inn Express after the race before both succumbing to deep sleep). Then I drove through heavy traffic into NYC for a walk around Fort Tryon's lovely flower gardens before a fancy outdoorss dinner overlooking the city.
Saturday I met old friend Chanakhya Jakovic (now of Slovenia) for brunch at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, The Smile of the Beyond, where race director Sahishnu cooked up fluffy pancakes, eggs, fresh orange juice,...The good food was matched by the good company of many of the runners from the races. Then Dr. Jakovic dragged me all around on a historic walking tour of Jamaica (this included the endless 150th Street hill site of marathons years ago, as well as the 3100 mile loop), before my legs said "enough." Note that Chanakhya and two other runnenrs from the 6/10 day did the weekly 2 mile RACE around Jamaica High School early Saturday!!
After buying a sari for my daughter Amalia from "The Divine Robe Supreme" (store could have been in a Harry Potter set), foisting all manner of excess "stuff" on poor Sahishnu (luckily he seems to have a larage garage), buying MORE gifts at the Card Shoppe and wonderful pastries and coffee at The Panorama Cafe (site of many Guiness World records set by Ashrite Furman), and saying emotional goodbyes to my Russian/Ukrainian friends (a bunch of young Ukrainians shared the shelter/dugout I was in with me), I rushed to LaGuardia Airport.
As I sped past Flushing Meadows one last time, I had a mental image of Sri Chinmoy himself. I thank him for his vision in creating all these challenging and beautiful multiday ultras. Best wishes to all ultrarunners,
El Paso, TX