Tsai Wen-Ya takes the women’s title and sets 8 multi-day world records.
For the last seven weeks since 30th August, fourteen brave souls have been battling themselves and the course in the Sri Chinmoy 3100 mile race, the longest certified road race in the world.
Apart from its staggering distance, what makes the event a little different is that, it is not held on a large loop or point-to-point course, but on a small 0.5484 mile (0.8825 km) loop in the Borough of Queens, New York. Organised by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, who have been staging ultra races globally for over 40 years, this was the 27th edition of the race.
The race was conceived of as both an outer and inner journey,
THE OUTER JOURNEY
The course is flat, and the well-staffed aid station is always within easy reach each lap.
The race allows runners to test themselves in a format like no other ultra-marathon. To meet their goal of 3,100 miles within 52 days, they must log an average of 59.6 miles a day, every day.
Runners begin at 6 a.m. each morning and run throughout the day, taking walking breaks or wee power naps as necessary. Runners can run as late as midnight when the course closes, and there is a mandatory 6-hour break, resuming at 6 a.m. the next morning.
Runners from ten countries started the race, with the event cut-off being 52 days, or Friday, 20th October. This year, the runners have come from ten countries. New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Slovakia, Taiwan, USA and Czech Republic.
Andrea Marcato winning in 43 days, 13 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds
Early on Thursday evening, 12th October, Andrea Marcato became the first finisher of this epic journey, recording 43 Days, 13 Hours, 33 Minutes and 23 seconds. It was his 4th consecutive win at the event. The 41-year-old Italian, a former member of the Italian 24-hour squad, averaged 70.77 miles a day.
Taiwan’s Tsai Wen-Ya won the women’s race, finishing on Saturday evening, 14th October, at around 7 p.m. Her time of 45 Days, 12 Hours, 28 Minutes, and 44 Seconds broke the existing race record set by Kaneenika Janakova in 2017 by over three days. She averaged around 68 Miles a day, every day, and placed third overall in the race.
During the last 45 days at the 3100-mile race, she has been breaking new boundaries for women’s multi-day running, setting a total of eight ultra-distance world records. The times are also Taiwanese and Asian area records.
Tsai Wen-Ya winning in 45 days, 12 hours, 28 minutes and 44 seconds
- Women’s race record for the 3,100-mile race, 45 Days 12 Hours 28 Minutes 44 Seconds
- 2,500km 23 Days 02 Hours 59 Minutes 12 seconds
- 3,000km 27 Days 13 Hours 20 Minutes 02 Seconds
- 4,000km 36 Days 14 Hours 41Minutes 27 Seconds
- 5,000km 45 Days 14 Hours 56 Minutes 42 seconds
- 2,000 Miles 29 Days 12 Hours 25 Minutes 21 seconds
- 2,500 Miles. 37 Days 00 Hours 57 Minutes 26 Seconds
- 3,000 Miles. 44 Days 04 Hours 01 Minutes 54 Seconds
- The previous records were all set by Kaneenika Janakova of Slovakia in the 2017 edition of the race.
Tsai’s compatriot Lo Wei-Ming placed second in the race, finished a few hours earlier in 45 days, 11 Hours, 16 Minutes, 51 Seconds.
Wei-Ming bettered his time from the 2022 race by over a day, improving his own Taiwanese and Asian area records.
Other runners will be finishing 3100 miles over the next few days. Some, by the very nature of this arduous event, have experienced issues but will still stay the course for the full 52 days to log their milestone distance.
THE INNER JOURNEY
The Sri Chinmoy 3100 mile race was the brainchild of Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), a spiritual teacher, artist, musician, poet and humanitarian. His emphasis on physical fitness, self-transcendence and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, provides the inspiration which has powered the race since its inception.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon team in New York started by organising their first ultra race over the classic 24-hour distance in the late 1980s. Ultra running was certainly not the popular sport and pastime it has become today. As runners competed and became competent at 24 hours, Sri Chinmoy encouraged his students to organise longer races to enable runners to challenge themselves further. 48-hour, 6-day, 10-day, 1,000 and 1,300 and 2,700-mile races followed over the next few years until, in 1997, 3,100 miles was set as an ultimate challenge.
Although the race is officially 3,100 miles, with 5,000km being only a few laps more, most runners, after the customary celebration at 3100 miles, continue and run the thirteen extra laps, as national and international rankings, are maintained for the 5,000km distance.
THE GROWTH OF MULTI-DAY RUNNING
Multi-day races, either stage races on trails, or classic 6 and 10-day races on a track or short road loops, are gaining in popularity. Also consider all the numerous multi-day FKTs happening regularly.
There will always be brave runners seeking the ultimate adventure, ready to challenge themselves, both outwardly and inwardly, in a race of this duration.
The race record was set in 2015, when the phenomenal multi-day runner, Asprihanal Aalto, from Finland, ran 40 days, 9 hours, 6 minutes and 31 seconds to complete the distance. It equates to an average daily mileage of 77 miles a day.
About the author: Adrian Tarit Stott, has been having his own adventure. The Edinburgh-based, former GB 24-hour International and race coordinator for the Sri Chinmoy team in Scotland has been in New York helping at the race …..for five weeks! He is a freelance writer and you can read his blogs here.
All photos courtesy Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team