One development that would affect the SCMT moving forward had subtle and impending complications. We read in local newspapers that the CBS Television Corporation had invested a large sum of money for the reconstruction of the National Tennis Center and adjoining parklands and roads. When we applied for permits for our many short races and medium to very long ultra-marathons for the calendar year, nothing we had asked for was ratified or given. We had to negotiate at length to obtain even the smallest permits. The parks administrators eventually asked us to move to the Meadow Lake, southern side of Flushing Meadows Park for our ultras and other shorter events starting in June of 1991. We had until June to find new, runnable courses, and make the move to the other side of the Park.
The next to last scheduled ultra on the venerable 1-mile loop near the national Tennis Center was in May of 1991- our Fourth Annual Seven Day Race. We also encountered personnel changes in that tumultuous year. The head RD left our group, and Sri Chinmoy announced at the awards ceremony on Mothers Day, May 13, 1991, that Rupantar LaRusso would take over the head director role. The 70 Mile in June of 1991 happened, but that was the end of an era. The Ultra Trio needed a new area for its staging of the longest ultra. An unprecedented field of 61 international athletes was entered in the Trio of races-1300 miles, 1000 miles, and 700 miles. What better event would test the new course than the 1991 Sri Chinmoy 24-Hour Race? We just weren’t sure about the course.
Thirty-three runners started the race on September 14-15, 1991 in Flushing Meadows Park, on a new course with a camber in the road on some straightaways, several tight turns, and a traverse under nine overhead bridges and overpasses of traffic from a spider-like cloverleaf of traffic intersecting three main causeways and several exit roads. The Long Island Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway and connector roads all loomed over head or alongside the loop as the runners stretched out in ones and twos, uncertain of the noise, and bewildered by the din at rush hour or at night when people were headed home.
Roger Welch, 49, from Marshfield, MA was first through 50 miles in 7:05:07, almost a full lap ahead of Bill Menard, 40,Venice, FL and Gregor Knauer, 37, from Jamaica, NY. The gaps widened as Roger upped his lead to nearly 40 minutes at 100 km (8:63:42). Two-time winner Luis Rios emerged after the 100 km split to put the hammer down, but Roger Welch only accelerated more, cresting 100 miles in a quick 14:57:09. After a short break he moved along. At 100 miles Luis Rios was an hour behind Bill Menard, but his all-night ramble paid dividends as he moved into second place and stayed there until the final horn.
At race end, Roger Welch ran a personal best of 138 miles 836 yards. Second went to Luis Rios with 121 miles, third to Bill Menard with 118 miles. Janet Johnson won her second straight 24-Hour with 108 miles. Ruth Greher from NYC claimed second place for the ladies with 100 miles 608 yards. Willie Rios, the age-74 marvel, racked up 88 miles. In all, 13 runners eclipsed 100 miles. This would be our last 24-hour race at Flushing Meadows Park, unbeknownst to us. The Ultra Trio would deal with this unrelenting course for almost three weeks more than what the athletes in the 24-hour race had to deal with. We hoped for the best, and tried to meet the challenge. Just as in the 24-Hour, the athletes would rule the day (or weeks!).