In New York, the longest and craziest walking event in the world around a single block of buildings for 42 days

In New York, the longest and craziest walking event in the world around a single block of buildings for 42 days
In New York, the longest and craziest walking event in the world around a single block of buildings for 42 days

The race around … a block in 42 days: an Italian ultramarathoner won Sunday the longest and craziest walking event in the world, covering nearly 5,000 km in a month and a half around a single group of buildings from New York.

It was really monotonous!“exclaimed Andrea Marcato as she crossed the finish line on Sunday evening, Italian flag in hand, to the cheers of the crowd, after having circled 5,649 times around a school complex in the district of Queens in the north of New York, and therefore walked 3100 miles or 4888 km 501.45 m.

With a lap of 883 meters, an average of 116 km per day – that’s more than two marathons – the incredible sportsman, almost a 39-year-old superman, ran and walked for 42 days, 17 hours and 38 minutes. Every day from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The remaining six hours, Andrea Marcato and her six competitors – a New Zealander, a Taiwanese, a Japanese, a Russian, a Ukrainian and a Slovak – spent them sleeping, healing, eating, washing, responding to natural needs, in construction huts installed in the street during the ordeal.

The race, completely crazy but fully internationally approved, is supposed to last another eight days, barely disrupting New York car traffic, let alone the traders, residents and some 2,000 high school students in this popular corner of Queens called Jamaica.

Same every day

To break the routine and the grayness of the urban jungle, concrete sidewalks and black high school gates, the seven marathoners run one day clockwise, the next day counterclockwise.

The first week is quite hard, especially for the mind“, admet Andrea Marcato.”And then you end up getting used to it and accepting that it will be the same everyday“.

Whether it’s raining, windy, or New York’s heat and humidity are sweltering, it has been ticking like clockwork, since September 5, nearly 5,700 times around Thomas Edison Technical High School.

The event was created and named in 1997 “The Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendance 3.100 Mile Race” (“Sri Chinmoy’s 3,100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race“), by an Indian guru turned New Yorker, Sri Chinmoy, who died in 2007.

He advocated a mixture of extreme sport, surpassing oneself and meditation.

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Andrea Marcato at the time of his victory in “The 3,100-mile run of Sri Chinmoy’s self-transcendence”, October 17, 2021. © AFP / ED JONES

Think of nothing

On the physical side, the organizers only accept ultramarathoners who have already done races of the same kind of at least six days. Mental side, “with a focused mind, you don’t think of anything else, no fear, no worry, no doubt“, assures Andrea Marcato.

It’s a test of endurance, effort, determination and talent“, sums up the race director, Sahishnu Szczesiul, very proud to note that if 4000 mountaineers in the world have managed to climb Everest, they are only 49 ultra-sportsmen to have completed their race of 3100 miles.

For New Zealander Harita Davies, the only woman in this 25th edition, the race is obviously terrible physically, but “amazing thing, as the days and weeks go by, the body adapts and strengthens“.

At 47, she runs “to become a better beingShe listens to music, audio novels and meditation classes. Harita Davies is expected to close the distance before the October 26 deadline.

No money

Other New Yorkers, deprived of the show in 2020 due to a pandemic that has brought the city to its knees, sometimes barely understand what is going on: “I live here but didn’t know it was a race. I always thought they were just jogging“, s’amuse Julio Quezada.

And what does winner Andrea Marcato gain after losing thousands of calories a day and 16 pairs of shoes? A trophy but no money, assure the organizers. “This is the absolute, my dream and I made it come true“, rejoices the Italian, employee of a food company. But Harita Davies warns that the most difficult begins:”Return to normal life“.

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Italian Andrea Marcato is resting after winning the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, the world’s longest certified running race, in New York’s Queens neighborhood on October 17, 2021. © AFP

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