Sichel starts World’s Longest Footrace – 3100 miles in New York

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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.

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William Sichel to attempt World’s Longest Certified Footrace – 3100 miles

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel, has announced that he will be attempting to become the first Scot, first Brit and first person over 60-years of age to complete the World’s Longest Certified Footracethe Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race – within the current 52 day time limit.

Described by the New York Times as the “Mount Everest of ultra marathons”, 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 this year. A small field of about a dozen runners is expected.

“I wanted to make this year in particular rather special, it being my 60th year and also my 20th in ultra distance running.  I’ve always specialised in standard road and track ultras so, to me, this is the ultimate in this type of race.  Clearly it is way beyond anything I have previously attempted and I’ll need to use all my experience to try and finish the race!”

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 in Scotland, England and Wales.

“My first ever standard ultra was the Sri Chinmoy 100km race in Edinburgh in 1994, which to my amazement I won. Since then I have done loads of Sri Chinmoy ultra distance events world-wide and up to 6 Days in duration. Their events are always well organised and have the best interests of the runners at heart.”

William has known about this incredible event for a long time but never thought he would be able to participate or realistically consider himself a possible finisher.

“Trying to clear a two months gap in your life isn’t easy and in fact that becomes part of the challenge. It will be the most incredible trial for me – the ultimate really in long distance running.”

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 of course.

So in effect the competitors have 18 hours a day to cover the daily average of 60 miles required to complete the challenge within the time limit.

“I’ve run 153 miles in a single day as a one off. In six day races I cover 80-90 miles as a daily average and in my only 1000 miles race I averaged 72 miles a day. To attempt a daily average of 60 miles, week in and week out, will need the most astonishing effort and conservation of resources.”

Welshman Abichal Watkins, was the first British person to compete in the event, finishing five times in five years, with a best performance of 54 days 11 hours in 2008.  He is now a race organiser and this year is promoting the Celtic Ultra Fest in Weston-super-Mare in September.

William is working on Project165.com in which he will attempt to have set 165 ultra running records before his 65th birthday on October 1st 2018.  Amongst William’s current 95 records he holds nine world age-group records including the fastest time to run 1000 miles.

William is dedicating Project165.com to raise funds for CLAN Cancer Support and his dedicated web page can be found here: http://www.justgiving.com/William-Sichel