The 2020 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Race was held in Salzburg, Austria with five runners attempting to complete the 3,100 miles (nearly 5,000km). Usually, the race is held in New York, US, but due to Covid could not occur this year. Undaunted by the challenges of organising this epic race at short notice, a team of volunteers put on an excellent race around a scenic 1km loop in Salzburg. Although the race numbers were limited to five runners, the event required the dedicated support of helpers, cooks, counters and marshalls to ensure the safe running of this event. Event organiser Priyavadin Reisecker, who runs The Heart of Joy cafe in Salzburg, ensured that the race was able to offer this unique event in the new location. The organisers and runners also had to deal with one of the wettest autumns on record and frequent rain - which made the race more challenging for the 16 hour days.
The standout performance of the race was the remarkable achievements of race debutant Andrea Marcato (38) from Italy. His time of 43 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes is a record for a first-time entrant and the fifth fastest finish of all time. He also set multiple Italian distance records during his run and is now ranked fifth worldwide. After finishing he said:
“I am really happy that I basically covered all the distances, which are available in the world. So I am really happy and satisfied now. The feeling of deep satisfaction, inner peace and joy, which I perceived for a whole month after finishing 10-day races motivated me to run the world's longest certified road race. A feeling which I did not get after 24-hour races.”
In second place, was Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer (52) who lives serendipitously close to the course. He finished with a personal best time of 49 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes and was ably encouraged by his family and friends. During the race, he also received the particular support of the Austrian President who sent the runners a message of good wishes for their feats of self-transcendence.
“I can't even imagine what it is like to run constantly through 52 days. Yes, I like to go hiking for a few hours. But running 52 days, 118 marathons - unbelievable! What a breathtaking endurance performance. You are assured of my respect. I wish all participating athletes, especially the Salzburg local hero Hubert Muckenhumer, all the best, lots of success and the necessary perseverance for the next extremely challenging days of running ” (link)
In third place was Nirbhasa Magee from Ireland. It was Magee's fourth finish out of four entries to the race - a great record made more remarkable for his period of illness during the race which left him with an understandable feeling of exhaustion. However, battling through tiredness, he walked for several days and was able to finish on the last day after accumulating a buffer in the earlier part of the race.
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, from Slovakia could not finish within the allotted time, but cheerfully raced for 51 days to accumulate 2799.6 miles. Zuskin has finished the race on six occasions and is one of the most frequent entrants, impressing watchers with his cheerfulness and determination, no matter how fast he is able to run.
Milan Javornicky, 46, from the Czech Republic was another first-time entrant and he achieved his own feat of self-transcendence, overcoming painful shin splints to manage 2,713.9 miles. Despite his obvious discomfort for much of the race, he was determined to keep going and run as best he could.
All five runners in their own different ways lived up to the ideal of self-transcendence, which Sri Chinmoy has made the heart of the race.
“I do not have any set goal; my goal is self-transcendence. I always try to transcend myself. I do not compete with the rest of the world. I compete only with myself, and I try to become a better human being. This is my ultimate goal.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual teacher himself was a notable athlete, running several marathons and ultra-marathons. He founded the 3100 Mile Race in 1996 as the ultimate test for runners to challenger their own physical, mental and spiritual limits. In particular, speaking at the first awards ceremony on 2 August 1997, Sri Chinmoy envisaged the wider impact of this special race to spread goodwill and peaceful energy.
"This 3,100 miles is an unprecedented journey in our world-peace-manifestation-dream. World-peace can come into existence only when we are inundated with patience and perseverance. Infinite patience we need in our inner life and perseverance we need in our outer life.
These 3,100 miles remind us of one divine and supreme reality: we can and we must do everything at our command to transform the world of lethargy and unwillingness to be dynamic. Unwillingness we do not leave behind us. Therefore happiness remains always a far cry. Willingness to give, willingness to achieve, willingness to grow and glow should be the message of our souls. With our souls' blessings we can and will fulfil our earthly life." - Sri Chinmoy
The race also captured the imagination of many locals who got used to seeing the runners and helpers out on the course. Many remarked on how they were inspired by the runners and how the race had a noticeable impact on the atmosphere of the park
"I've been noticing the tent for days, but I thought it was just one of the many charity events. Now I know the data, facts and background. You need time to really understand it. These five men make the impossible possible. We come here every day now." Race coverage local press
Local Kindergarten teacher Präauer was reported in the local press as saying:
"Since the beginning of the race there has been a subtle and even more clear change in the living space in our area. The peaceful coexistence becomes visible every day. Total strangers talk to each other, look at each other, are interested....There is a new openness for many who enter and use this park: walkers, runners, cyclists, children and again more children, dogs, people of many nationalities and in between the athletes who meditatively and actively dedicate their life to peace. I am happy with everyone who experiences this. And I am happy for the many children who are watching enthusiastically and are given new role models." Article on the race
The event has been covered in several papers across Europe including
- Italian wins 5,000 km race
- TV Clip
- Translation of Austrian TV Report
- 3100 Mile race video by Run and Become
- Irishman on verge of completing 3,100 miles at Independent.ie
- Podcast with Nirbhasa Magee