Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (60) will become the first Scot to start the World’s Longest Certified Footrace – the Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race – which starts in New York on Sunday June 15th – with a 52 day cut-off.
William hopes to high-light the benefits of exercise for the over 60s as well as raise money for the CLAN cancer support charity.
The 18th edition of this event will, once again, take place on a half mile street circuit in Queens, New York from June 15th to August 6th. A small, invited field of 11 men and 3 women will start this unique event.
For organisational reasons the race is run a bit like a stage race with the runners and organisers having an enforced break between mid-night and 6am every day. The clock doesn’t stop however and competitors must be on the start line at 6 every morning.
So in effect, the runners have 18 hours a day to cover the daily average of 60 miles required to complete the challenge within the time limit.
“That means I must cover almost 2½ marathons a day or the equivalent of 240 laps of a 400m track, every day for 52 days, just to finish inside the time limit! It’s an incredible ask because if I have a bad day then I have to run further in subsequent days to complete the race. Currently no one from Scotland has ever started the event and no one from anywhere, aged over 60, has ever finished it, so there are lots of targets to aim for.”
Sri Chinmoy was an Indian spiritual master and teacher of meditation, who established himself in New York in the 1960’s and who died in 2007. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organise many running events world-wide, including the UK.
The heat and humidity of summer in New York will have a big bearing on the event and William has prepared diligently in his own home-made heat chamber, mimicking the the 35°C and 90% humidity often experienced in New York during July and August.
“To be honest it would hardly be worth going if I didn’t do this type of specific preparation. The effects of heat and humidity on running performance can be severe and coming from a cool climate it makes perfect sense and is something I can do, relatively conveniently, at home.”
William made the decision 18 months ago to compete in this race as he wanted to mark his 20th year in ultra distance running by tackling something rather special and this event seemed to fit the bill.