New Zealander Susan Marshall and Finn Ashprihanal Aalto have spent 46 days running an average of 95.5 kilometers a day around a school on the outskirts of New York, to try to complete the 3,100 miles (4,989 kilometers) of the longest ultramarathon in the world. world.
A physical, mental and spiritual test, as its organizers assure, that was born in 1997 and that this year puts twelve runners to the limit, who still have six days to reach the end of their journey.
Aalto’s parched face and lean body are a vivid reflection of the harshness of this test in which “the important thing is not to waste time”. Aalto says that he has been doing 70 miles a day (112.6 kilometers) for 20 days and that if he meets his goal he will finish in second position, behind the Italian Andrea Marcato, who crossed the finish line on Monday after 44 days of marching.
“You have to have discipline and train well,” says this official from the Finnish postal service, who holds the world record for this ultramarathon, achieved in 2015 after 40 days, 9 hours, 6 minutes and 21 seconds running.
As race director Sahishnu Szczesiul explains, the track opens every day at 6 in the morning and closes at midnight for 52 days. In that time window, runners can manage time as they please.
“Here we value time, every second, all the time you move,” says Aalto, who claims to feel “very happy” now that the goal is within reach.
“When you run a marathon or when you do something difficult you feel very happy afterwards. You feel that you did your best, that you tried with all your might and you think: ‘I got it’, but it is also very hard and lasts a long time”, adds the Finn, who is wearing the shirt from the first time he participated in this marathon, named after its founder Sri Chinmoy.
Susan Marshall still has several days to hang up her sneakers and rest. She is currently in the fourth position and is the highest rated woman.
“I feel grateful to have come this far,” she says without slowing down her stride and before confessing that she thought she would not reach 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) and has already exceeded 2,700 (4,345 km).
It is the sixth time that this Canberra cafeteria cook has embarked on this adventure, in which she participates following her hunch and because, she says: “It makes my heart happy”.
“The truth is that I was not prepared, I did not feel ready and I was terrified. I don’t know if there’s really a way to really be ready for this,” she says before underlining the immense “mental challenge” of the opening bars.
“You have to feel a call” to launch yourself into this career, he concludes.
A PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EFFORT
They run around a high school technical center facility and an adjacent playground, completing 0.5488 miles or 883 meters with each lap.
It is a residential area, mostly single-person homes, in which runners share the sidewalk with students and neighbors.
You can hardly guess that the longest race in the world is taking place in that neighborhood until you see stalls set up along the sidewalk offering food and water to the runners.
Even the race facilities don’t differ much from the mobile food stalls that can be found in many parts of the city.
Sanjay Rawak, director of the documentary “3,100: Run and Become” in which he deals with this and other ultra-long runs in other cultures, and a resident of the Jamaica neighborhood, assures that he embarked on his work after living 30 years in that area watching to the runners he wanted to “understand what kind of internal or external power the runners were using to be able to complete this distance”.
THE JOY OF PARTICIPATING
The Irishman Nirbhasa Magee does not hesitate to stop to answer several questions, he goes last and is aware that he will not complete the 3,100 miles.
With humor, he explains that he contracted covid a few days before the race and due to confinement he started three days late. Furthermore, after ten days, he suffered a relapse that left him bedridden again.
Beyond the discipline, concentration and control of “every second”, this Irish nursing assistant emphasizes the importance of being relaxed and “calming the mind as much as possible”.
“When you can go beyond all these challenges and complete 3,100 miles, it gives you a tremendous amount of inner confidence in your daily life, so for me now, it’s almost like a school of life without the distractions of the outside world.” . (EFE)