POST TIME: 1 November, 2020 08:54:22 AM
Italian runner wins world's longest race
Independent Online Desk

Italian runner wins world's longest race

Italian runner Andrea Marcato wins the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race. Photo: Courtesy

Italian runner Andrea Marcato, 38, won the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race on Monday, October 26 in a time of 43 days 12 hours 7 minutes. 

The world's longest footrace was held in Salzburg, Austria. It was Marcato's first attempt at the distance, according to a press release of Sri Chinmoy Centre in Dhaka.

The 3100-Mile (3987 kilometres) Race is called the Mt. Everest of running. It was founded in 1997 by the spiritual master and sports enthusiast Sri Chinmoy. The runners have 52 days, from September 13 to November 3, to complete the journey. They line up at 6 am each morning they can run until the course closes at midnight. To finish inside the 52-day time limit they must run an average of 96 km (more than two marathons) a day.

Marcato's average was 115 km per day, allowing him to finish with eight days to spare. It was the fifth-fastest of all time, and fastest by a beginner. Along the way, he broke Italian records for 1000 km, 2000 km, and 3000 km.

There are four other runners still in the race who have until November 3 to complete the distance.

Marcato, who began his sports career as a swimmer, speeded up as the race went on. He completed the second 1000 miles in a faster time (14:01:56:27) than his first 1000 (14:05:20:20), and the third 1000 was even faster (13:23:14:10)!

This year's race almost did not happen. Normally it is held in New York in June and July, but this year because of coronavirus it had to be cancelled. In September, a new venue was found at Salzburg, Austria. Normally the race has between 10 and 15 entrants, but this year, again because of the virus, the number was limited to five. 

The race is the ultimate test of running fortitude. The runners have to endure blisters, shin splits, fatigue, about 4 hours of sleep at night, high temperatures, cold and rain. They have to consume 10,000 calories a day to maintain their energy, and they still lose weight; Marcato lost about 9 kg during the race. They go through about 10 pairs of running shoes. 

But many feel that the battle against mental pressure—fear, self-doubt, depression, wanting to give up—is even more difficult than the physical challenges. They have to dig very deep inside themselves to summon up the courage and will power to carry on. This is why it is called the "self-transcendence" race. 

Sri Chinmoy believed that there is no limit to the human spirit and that challenges like this help us to go beyond our self-imposed limitations and discover our hidden potential.

Over the 24-year history of the race, 49 runners have completed the course, including 8 women. Some have run it several times. The world record of 40 days, 9 hours, 6 minutes was set in 2015 by Asprihanal Aalto of Finland.

In 2017, Yolanda Holder, 59, of California completed the race by power walking the whole way. 

There is an aid station at the side of the racecourse where an army of volunteers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team try to take care of all the runners' needs: food, drinks, supplements, medical attention, massage, and deliver messages from friends around the world.

Filmmaker Sanjay Rawal made an award-winning film 3100: Run and Become about the race and the spiritual dimension of running in different cultures around the world.