The eighth running of the Sri Chinmoy 24-Hour Race took place from April 25-26, 1986 at Flushing Meadows Park on the famous 1-mile loop near the Queens Zoo and the Hall of Science Building. 42 runners toed the line to test their abilities. The 24-Hour was the warm-up act for our second Sri Chinmoy 1000 Mile Race, which was scheduled from April 26- May 11. Local favorite Luis Rios would wage a duel with Long Island runner Don Jewell.
Don led everyone through 100 km- 8:50:01, and later, 100 miles- 15:26:44. The spring chill and length of the race seemed to catch up with the older Jewell. Luis Rios went past the 200 km mark in 21:04:32, the only runner to get that mark in the race. He cruised to the finish line with 138 miles, his second triumph in our one-day race history. Richard Gates from Salt lake City, Utah claimed second place with 122 miles. The unstoppable Kay Moore, recently moved to Mitchellville, Maryland, won her third straight women’s title with 120 miles. Don Jewell was able to hold on for 120 miles for third male, just seconds behind Kay Moore. Eleven runners had moved past 100 miles. The biggest revelation, though, was the presence of 11 women in a field of 42.
The schedule change of the race from fall to spring did not have much affect on attendance when we assessed the event. In the country and the world there were many more opportunities to run a 24-hour race. We still had a large field for the event. The base of ultra-runners was gathering numbers everywhere, and many new races were being started around the USA, particularly trail events in mountains and more exotic locations. SCMT 24-hour races in Canada, England, Germany and Australia were now being recognized as national championship events in those countries. Our own focus in New York was being expanded to the multi-day platforms of 1000 miles, and its new, shorter companion, the Five Day Race. All our races remained on roads.
We saw the 24-Hour event as a perfect litmus test of runner recovery powers and abilities that could forebode or even predict multi-day running ability, in hindsight. Our 70-mile race was now combined with the 100-mile event and moved to October. That event attracted fast runners in both disciplines. The aforementioned Sri Chinmoy Five Day race was held in November in 1986, taking the SCMT through a schedule of yearly races, marathons and ultras for nearly eight to ten months of the year. It was exhausting to think about it, but Sri Chinmoy wanted us to continue. We as organizers had to double up on our commitment to the Marathon Team. The dedication needed to help at the races was a real blessing, though. It felt so rewarding to help these great athletes try to reach their goals, large or small. And most of all, Sri Chinmoy kept looking within and without, pushing our envelope with these races. Just as the athletes had to search for capacity, the help crews now had to do the same. The number of races and length of the events demanded it.