Do you have what it takes to compete in one of the most exhausting races in the world?
Three thousand and one hundred miles, 52 days, one city block in Jamaica, Queens, New York. The Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race was founded in 1985 by Sri Chinmoy, an Indian spiritual leader known for teaching meditation in the west after moving to New York in 1964. Initially, the event began as a 6-day race with increasing duration of 700, 1000, and 1300 miles, then 2,700 miles. At the 1997 award ceremony, Sri Chinmoy announced that the distance would be extended an additional 400 miles thereafter. At 3,100 miles, it is the longest foot race in the world.
If the sheer distance alone wasn’t enough to intimidate potential participants, the race track itself wraps around a single inconspicuous city block in Jamaica, Queens, New York. During the late summer days, runners must complete this revered race within a 52-day time span. A single lap spans only .5488 miles. Participants must run around the city block a total of 5,649 times to reach the full 3,100 miles. That means they have to complete about 110 laps per day, resting only a few hours at a time from midnight to 6 am the next day.
It is essential for the runners to remain hydrated and intake enough food to keep their energy up. Because of the absolute amount of energy needed to complete the Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race, it is not uncommon to observe runners eating entire sticks of butter or drinking straight heavy cream to maintain their stamina.
Many runners go through upwards of 10 pairs of shoes during the entirety of the race, and some choose to cut out the toes of their sneakers for increased comfort, as blisters pose the biggest threat to race contestants. Those who are veteran distance-runners know of the inevitable raw ankles and toes at the end of a marathon. However, this 3,100-mile race’s participants must run three marathons in one day if they plan to finish on time.
Despite its intimidating framework, the Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race has many return participants. AshprihanalPekka Aalto broke his own record in 2015 and finished the race in 40 days, nine hours, and six minutes. Aalto was a long-time follower of Sri Chinmoy and continues in his devotions to his teachings despite Sri Chinmoy’s passing in 2007.
The race is meant to inspire individuals to push past the conception of their physical limits. It is an act of meditation, and a demonstration of the pure will of the human body, mind, and indeed, spirit.