"Cherns, Cunningham Top Field at Sri Chinmoy Seven-Day." Ultrarunning. July - August 1993.
Warm sunny weather greeted a field of 19 runners in the sixth annual Sri Chinmoy Seven Day Race. This was the first short multi-day held on the new one-mile loop at Wards Island Park, just a stoneâs throw from Manhattan. Last year the Ultra Trio inaugurated the course, races lasting go-as-you-please for 19 days. This yearâs Seven had returning race record holders Charlie Eidel and Suprabha Beckjord as part of a slightly older group. Carl Stelman from Red Hook, N.Y., and Ed Fishman from Hawaii, both multi-day novices, led the over-60 set, which also included trail runner Dan Baglione. For the ladies, local phenomenon Ruth Greher and the great Barbara McLeod from Canada were on hand, hoping to catch breezes from the swifter Dipali Cunningham and the five-time winner Beckjord.
The heat of the first day did not hamper the game plan of local favorite Trishul Cherns, the transplanted Canadian who is a fixture at nearly every ultra race in the area. Cherns, claiming the Seven was just a training run for the monster 2,700 t be held in the fall, will never back down if heâs in good shape. He knocked off an easy 103 miles the first day, keeping clear of Charlieâs 90 and the surprising fitness of Baltimoreâs Bruce Holtman. Suprabha and Barbara got out quickly for the ladies, but Dipali Cunningham was running the smoothest of all.
Day Two is when the race starts to separate. This time, the women hung close to the top men. Trishul began to establish a solid lead with his sleep deprivation tactics. Charlie had decided to give chase, but then his knees and feet started to betray him. Faced with five and a half more days of the same, he turned in the towel and bade a quiet goodbye. A lackluster winter of training can ground any high hopes of survival. Training is easily remembered by the body and lungs; fitness can be the elusive linchpin to a multi-day spiral. Menâs second place was secured by Bob Evinger, a position he never relinquished thereafter.
Suprabha has been in the multi-day wars for a long time. She has developed into one of he worldâs best at distances that scare the average ultrarunnner. In this race she was faced with the challenge from the other women as well as the men. Barbara McLeod, who has never done very well in warmer weather, showed great staying power and closed within ten miles of he lead. Dipali, the speedster from Australia, has been developing her skills at the longer races. Her experience and skill, plus a very consistent training program of high mileage and fast-paced runs, paid off. By four days, It was apparent Dipaliâs speed would triumph over Suprabhaâs steely determination. With thirteen hours left to the race, Dipali finally overtook the champion, who lay drained with fatigue in her tent.
In the menâs race, Cherns easily withstood any challenge from Bob Evinger. By Day Four the lead was nearly 30 miles and Trishul was almost impossible to catch. Meanwhile, the trail runners Fishman and Baglione were finding life past 30 hours almost appealing, and Carl Stelman was having a great time, shin splints and all. Most of the runners were having a good time, sharing stories and making new friends with comrades and helpers alike. One of he favorite hangouts was the medical tent, where a good footbath and fresh taping was an evening ritual and he road junkiesâ luxury.
In the middle of he afternoon on Day Four, Bruceâs life was shaken back to reality, as he learned of his motherâs passing. Everyoneâs heart went out to Bruce, as he hurriedly paced and left. It was as if we had lost a family member, too. Such is the life at a multi-day. Your surrogate family of runners and helpers often becomes so close-knit that the âreal worldâ seems just a dream. Doing a multi-day is not just about running and totaling as many miles as your body can produce. Itâs more of a chance to become aware of your own quiet self as the hours and days pass. For 168 hours, you place yourself in a vulnerable position of accepting whatever comes, and allowing your own best feelings to arise from within. Seeing your name on the scoreboard every mile reinforces the notion that it really is a dream â âHow could I have done so much/so little?â âWhere have the seven days gone?â Whether one does well or poorly is not really the bottom line. As Ed Fishman, the oldest rookie (69) weâve had in a while, said during the race, âItâs all a game, so Iâm trying to have fun and not be. a party pooper,. Once again a HURT man set the record straight.
Back at the front: Trishul cruised to victory with 534, third highest total in race history. He definitely has the makeup and experience to challenge the 2,700-miler. I think the shorter mileage requirements of this up=coming two-month race will help him limit injuries and conserve energy. Trishul has now won a five-, a six-, and s seen-day race in his long ultra career. Bob Evinger, second overall with 515, set a PR by 75 miles at six days with 450, and showed a smooth style and cool demeanor throughout. Carl Stelman led the sexagenarian charge in this race with his first multi-day of 369. He could easily have and 70 more miles if it were not for painful shin splints. Ed Fishman and Chanakhya Jakovic had solid efforts, as did Simahin Pierce and Dan Baglione.
For the ladies, Dipali has risen to the ranks of he best women still doing multi-days. Her 501 miles, though not a record, was seemingly done quite easily. She merits attention in any future ultra she enters. Suprabha, although relegated to a rare second place, still deserves out appreciation. Remember, you canât win them all, and she is thinking ahead to two months on the road in the 2,700.
Barbara McLeod set personal bests at six and seven days, breaking many Canadian and North American age-group makers. Ruth Greher set a personal best by 80 miles and will probably be filling up the age-group record books for years to come.
It is not easy to stage multi-day events, particularly in the middle of the Big Apple. But with runners like these nineteen warriors, the task is easier and very worthwhile. Good luck to anyone who runs an ultra. Weâll see you in September!
New York, N.Y. 1-mile loop, plat, paved certified (with 24- and 48-hour and six-day splits).