Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, was an official entrant in the race and completed 208 miles. Photo: Bhashwar
Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, was an official entrant in the race and completed 208 miles. Photo: Bhashwar
Sri Chinmoy participated in the 1985 1000 Mile race, with a total mileage of 208 miles. These recollections are taken from the book Run and Become, Become and Run, part 16
Originally I wanted to run seven miles every day during the 1,000-mile race. I felt that if I tried to do 13 miles, I would not be able to continue. But at the end of the race I had completed 208 miles-an average of 13 miles a day for the 16 days of the race. Three people completed the full distance: 1,000 miles! Here is the proof that there are a few things the mind cannot understand-when the soul operates through the heart or through the vital. To run 1,000 miles is beyond the comprehension of the mind; the mind cannot imagine it! Perhaps now people will be inspired to sponsor 1,000-mile races.
By the first week of August I do hope to complete my 1,000 miles. I am going on, going on. God knows if I can do it!
-17 May 1985
I have run a little over 200 miles during the 1,000-mile race, but already I am blessing my forefathers that I have promised to run 1,000 miles. Even my imagination gets frightened! But I am sincerely proud of those who have completed the race. Look at Trishul! The race ended just yesterday, and already he is here at the meditation, enjoying his spiritual life.
-18 May 1985
The end of the 1,000-mile race was on the 6:30 news last night on television. When they mentioned my name they had trouble with "Sri"; they said, "Sir." They called me "Sir Chinmoy, the Queens Fitness Guru."
-17 May 1985
‘Choi, Cherns and Laharraque Race 1,000 Miles In Sri Chinmoy 1,000 Mile Race, May 1 – 17, 1985’ (Press Release). Brummell, S. and Weisbrot, B. May 1985. Retrieved 2012-06-02. Archive copy at the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Office, New York.
Photo: (l to r) NYRRC President Fred Lebow, a frequent visitor to the race, congratulates 1,000 mile champion, Don Choi.
"One thousand miles. We couldn’t conceive of it, but Trishul’s vision coupled with Sri Chinmoy’s enthusiastic support seeped into our bones and once more we found ourselves juggling jobs and family to sign up for day and ‘graveyard’ shifts at the one mile asphalt course on the zoo grounds of Flushing Meadow Park, New York. Ziggy Bauer, the only man to successfully race this distance, had finished in 12 ½ days on a grass track in Colac, Australia in 1983. We had a sixteen day cutoff, but never really expected to be out there that long. Little did we realize!
Day One: The runners are off at 8:12 am under hot, sunny skies with Ted Corbitt giving the ‘go’ sign. Don jumps into the lead, cushioning himself with 107 miles over Trishul’s 88 – the highest daily total of the race. Cahit Yeter, who is camped with kids and wife Sharon, also a part-time runner, knocks of 8 minute miles for 10 hours then disappears to drive a bus for another 10…then the rains came.
Day Two: Cold, drenching rain, 36 hours’ worth – drowning tents, food, handlers, runners, and spirits. Stan ‘The Leviathon’ Leventhal still pulls 81 miles out of a hat. Don stays happy running under an umbrella in a ‘Peanuts’ jacket – someone else has hands wrapped in foil, like baked potatoes. Emile’s feet, with a dropped metatarsal on one foot and unhealed blisters from the San Diego 6 day on the other, begin to trouble him.
Day Three: The rain stopped at 5:00 pm – thank God. Don has not slept for 48 hours and has racked up 36 miles on Trishul. The runners’ culinary tastes have begun to emerge – Bob goes for buttermilk, coffee, and more coffee. Nathan ends up on his ‘bread and water’ diet of grains and pasta – no dairy, but Tofutti makes his eyes shine. Don is the strictest, downing a mouthful of ‘chute’ each lap – a combination of vegetables, tofu and brown rice – no sugars. Trishul lavishes his brown rice with tamari for sodium. Emile finds club soda settles his stomach but Haagen-Dazs keeps him sane.
Day Four: Curious weekend park pedestrians dot the race. Bob rides the carousel – Nathan spots a duck nesting her eggs. Don puts in 86 miles; Trishul begins his comeback with 76 – ‘a strategic error. I should have run my own race.’ A sign appears near a razor and cream – ‘shave your handsome face’ – compliments Cahit Yeter’.
Photo (l to r): Nathan Whiting, Kim Cavanaugh and Sharon Yeter.
Day Six: The first of two back-to-back 6 day races ends. No one really notices – what is six days in the immensity of 1,000 miles? The magnitude of this race continues to steal over everyone. Race personnel replace precious Walkman batteries and make banana smoothies over words of encouragement. Sri Chinmoy makes multiple appearances daily to oversee the race, bolster spirits and log his own mileage, finishing 208 miles by the race’s end.
First casualty – Stan is out for good with shin splints but he sticks around to help. He’s done, 309 miles.
Day Seven: Strong day for top 3. Emile running steady 11 minute miles, despite flaming blisters which have by now corroded away into a gaping hole on the ball of his foot. Reliving his trail runs with the Mexican Indians seems to help.
Day Eight: Crisis day – for everyone. ‘We shattered – physically, emotionally, mentally,’ recalls Trishul. ‘Even God rested on the seventh day!’ Only the heart is keeping the feet on the endless blue line. Don toys with quitting – the runners and handlers re-inspire him – ‘You’re the pioneer, you’ll set the standard!’ Emile seems the least affected, logging 65 miles, the highest mileage of the day. Bob walks 57.
Day Nine: Crisis over – back to business. New strategies emerge as runners digest the awesomeness of this task. Junk food is abandoned, replaced by yogurt, tofu, whole wheat pastas, bland vegetables and rice. Sleep lengthens from 1-2 hours a day to 5-6, climbing even higher as the days mount up.
Day Ten: Second casualty – Trishul leaves the track, seeking the aid of an acupuncturist for his ragged shins. Don meanwhile puts 77 miles on him and Emile moves into second. Bandaged like a thoroughbred on his return, Trishul rebounds with 64 miles the next day, reclaiming second and whittling Don’s lead down to 14 miles by the race’s close.
Day Twelve: Second fatigue zone seems to hit. Don and Bob both sick with stomach problems and sleep a full eight hours. Emile is in great pain, and although he maintains that 11 minute mile, he rests more and logs low mileage. Trishul is the only one with pep – he rested on his sojourn to the doctor. Fred Lebow pays a house call, toting sacks of fruit and snacks.
Day Thirteen: Runners wave goodbye to Ziggy’s 12 ½ day record, now held in awe by one and all. Runners are hyper-sensitive- race personnel talk to them gently and directly. Nathan runs and walks, singing loudly to himself in a rather pleasing, folksy way. Counter to Nathan, ‘Hey, Nath, that’s tiptoe through the tulips music!’ Nathan to counter, ‘But these tulips are cacti!’
Day Fourteen: Bob is obsessed with the desire to break 1,000 miles by the 16 day cutoff, but remains delightfully cheerful, living on coffee and refusing to leave the track. Jogyata Dallas hits upon a partial solution of Emile’s cavernous, bone deep blisters. He cuts away the insert of Emile’s shoe beneath the wound to release the pressure on it, slathers on cold aloe vera gel, then pads the rim of the hot spot with lamb’s wool, making a ‘whoopee cushion’ of sorts. Emile manages his highest daily total – 71 miles.
Day Fifteen: Anticipation of the nearing 1,000 mile mark hangs in the air like the aroma of baking bread. Don, still weak from the flu, plans a conservative 3 miles/hour for his last 50 miles. He runs with a dandelion in his cap. Trishul, 42 miles behind, makes a final bid for the lead, logging 64 miles today, 71 tomorrow. As the Chinese Press films for points east, the two sprint three miles.
Day Sixteen: The goal is won: At 2:37 pm Don crosses the finish line, quietly happy and exhausted, hoisting a large American flag and larger grin for the TV cameras and the appreciative audience. It has taken him 15 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes and 43 seconds to become the America’s first and history’s second man ever to race 1,000 miles. Three hours later Trishul retraces Don’s steps and the two congratulate each other all over, smiling those smiles that people wear when they share a secret. Emile finishes at 2 am, stillness, dwarfing the distance with two 6:30 miles thrown around the familiar course for the last time. Nathan finishes with Trishul, 817 miles of personal best behind him. Bob walks alone through the dawn, fighting for 900 miles by the 8 am cutoff. Making it with change, he puts in three more miles until his handlers pull him off the course to get him ready for the award ceremony. Photo: three 1,000 mile finishers (left to right): Emile Laharraque, Trishul Cherns and Don Choi.
A warm Fred Lebow honorarily hands out the awards as members of the Marathon Team sing a song written by Sri Chinmoy for the occasion. As we break camp, Bob is tooling around on his bicycle, the laurel wreath still circling his head like Caesar, happy as a kid off school. And the carousel keeps on playing." Photo: (left to right, foreground) Ranjana, Fred Lebow and Sri Chinmoy.
From our race brochure:
"America's First 1,000 Mile Race" (Press Release). April 29, 1985. Retrieved 2012-05-23. Archive copy at Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team office, Queens, New York.
"America's first 1,000 mile footrace - 12 to 16 days of running - will take place in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, New York starting May 1 at 8:00 am. This is only the third such race in history.
Winner of this premiere event will automatically establish the North American 1,000 mile record. There is a 16 day cut-off.
Runners are allowed to run, sleep, and eat at will during the race, bearing in mind they must average 62.5 miles per day to finish before the cut-off. The course is a one-mile loop in the zoo area of Flushing Meadow, near Terrace on the Park.
The world record for this event is currently held by Siegfried Bauer at 12 days, 12 hours, 36 minutes and 20 seconds. "Ziggy" Bauer is the only person in history to have completed the distance in either of the previous African and Australian races.
This American race will host an international field of ultra and multi-day race record holders including multi-day running pioneer Don Choi, Canadian Trishul Cherns, now residing in Queens, and Emil Laharraque of France. Five other New York ultra runners are starting. Entry is free.
Hosting the event will be the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, widely known for its excellence in organizing ultra distance events. This same team was host to Greek runner Yiannis Kouros' triple record run at the 1984 Sri Chinmoy 24-Hour Race in Flushing Meadow..."
12 runners prepare for the start of America's first 1,000 mile race. (l) to (r): Sri Chinmoy, Nathan Whiting, Stan Leventhal, Don Choi, Emile Laharraque, Bob Wise, K. Makita, S. Sheridan, Trishul Cherns, Kim Cavanaugh, Sharon Yeter and Cahit Yeter. Bios of the 12 Runners.
"Mailman Becomes America's First 1,000 Mile Runner" (Press Release). Atala Toy. May 16, 1985.Retrieved 2012-05-24. Archive copy at Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team office, Queens, New York
"San Francisco mailman Don Choi averaged 2-3/4 marathons a day to win America's first 1,000 mile race...Don's time of 15 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes and 43 seconds established a North American record for the event, which is the longest established race in American history. An international field of eleven multi-day runners competed in this premiere event which was hosted by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and held on a one mile paved looped course in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens. New York.
Trailing by a slim 14 miles was Canadian Trishul Cherns who in turn was leading French adventurer Emile Laharraque by 21 miles when Choi crossed the line. Both runners will establish national records for 1,000 miles, as will race walker Bob Wise of Atlanta, Georgia.
Only one other man in history has completed the grueling 1,000 mile race - the indomitable Siegfried Bauer, who first ran in Africa and then ran 12-1/2 days on a grass track in Australia to set the world record for the event. Previously, the longest accepted race distance in America was the 6 day race. The Sri Chinmoy event creates a new race category, one which, by all indications from the ultra distance community will prove to be popular in coming years."
"3 Runners Break 1,000 Mile Barrier" (Press Release). Atala Toy. May 20, 1985. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member Jogyata Dallas (l) congratulates 1,000 mile finisher Emile Laharraque.
"The 1,000 mile barrier was shattered three times in North America's first 1,000 mile footrace. First place was taken by 36 year old San Francisco mailman Don Choi, who ran 15 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes and 43 seconds. Second place went to a Jamaica florist, the 28 year old Canadian Trishul Cherns (15:9:37:35). Third place was won by French adventurer Emile Laharraque (15:17:58:30). The event, sponsored by the Queens based international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, took place on a one mile loop in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, NY from May 1-17.
New York Road Runner's President Fred Lebow (l) congratulates 1,000 mile champion, Don Choi.
After day 6 of the race, runners reached territory explored before only by Bauer himself. Day 8 reportedly was the low point. 'We hit rock bottom,' Trishul recalls. 'We were shattered, emotionally and physically. Guess that's why God created the world in 7 days, not 8! We should have rested on the 7th day - we didn't, so were put to rest!'
Having finished 500 miles, with 500 more to go, the runners collected themselves, changed diet and sleep plans and kept running. All sugared junk food disappeared. In its place came vegetables, brown rice, pasta and yogurt. Sleep went from 2 to 3 hours a night to 5 or 6.
Don Choi led the entire race, although at one point Trishul was only 14 miles shy of him. On the last two days, with the goal in sight, runners eagerly pushed themselves..."
Two members of the 'graveyard' shift share their experiences during their 16 days on the overnight shift.
'One thousand miles. We couldn't conceive of it, but Trishul's vision coupled with Sri Chinmoy's enthusiastic support seeped into our bones and once more we found ourselves juggling jobs and family to sign up for day and 'graveyard' shifts at the one mile asphalt course on the zoo grounds of Flushing Meadows Park, New York...' read more...
Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Marathon Team, was an official entrant in the race and completed 208 miles. Photo: Bhashwar
The Final Results...