“Going into watching this documentary was for me the fascination of why we as humans take on such a quest”
Words Glenn Blomfield
The documentary is about the 3100 mile self transcendent marathon, created by Sri Chinmoy a Guru that found enlightenment through the meditation of running. Lets get this into some perspective, 3100 miles is 4989km, the mind boggles at running that amount of distance.
The runners have 52 days to complete the distance, they must cover 60 miles per day, that is 96 1/2km a day. Running around a half mile (0.80km) block. A day of running is from 6am to midnight,18hrs a day on feet. Most consume 10,000 calories per day.
Now get this, there is no prize money, there is a trophy for the winner. This all takes place in Queens, New York City. Temperatures can be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, extreme hot conditions, running in all weather conditions. With that information, and a perspective of what a 3100 mile event is, the big question that lingers on the mind is the “why”? The documentary attempts to answer that question, but the “why” is not a simple answer.
“The runners have 52 days to complete the distance, they must cover 60 miles per day”
As the reviewer, has some type of insight and understanding, as I myself have run what is known as Ultra-marathon, as of writing this, recently completing a 104km Ultra-marathon. Yes it does pale in comparison to 3100miles. But the question that often asked of me is the ‘Why’, and it certainly is not an easy or simple question to answer. Something I even question myself. So going into watching this documentary was for me the fascination of why we as humans take on such quest.
The film focus around a runner Ashprihanal Aalto a Finnish runner, who has a very nondiscript delivering papers, he lives a very humble frugal existence in a one room shack abode. He lives life through meditation. He has run the self transcendent 3100miles, an incredible 13 times, 8 x winner, holds the world record for the fastest 3100miles. He certainly is not the physical specimen of a runner, small in stature. Nor does he follow any athletic training nutrition regime.
What makes him so remarkable is, and what the documentary attempts to reveal, is through his meditation, spiritual focus and mindfulness, Ashprihanal Aalto runs on mental agility. Running this type of distance, becomes about the person on a spiritual self journey as you go to such extremes.
It is not about the body anymore it is about the mental toughness. You run not to win a race, but to go beyond yourself. A more transcendent self, a spiritual awakening, by the end you definitely will be a changed person. The documentary helps enlighten those questions with some other cultural examples.
In Japan Mt Hiei, an ancient order of Buddhist monks traverse up to 60 miles a day for 1000 days in quest of enlightenment. The practice is known as Sennichi Kaihogyo (circling the mountain). Mt. Hiei is strewn with graves of failures. The long walking hike is described as ‘praying with feet’. In contrast Navajo Native Americans consider running as prayer.
Making a spiritual connection with the land. African hunters tracking their prey, can be running for a day, it is part of life and their cultural survival.
Will this make you a ultra-marathon runner? I cant answer nor can this documentary answer that for you, it is your ‘why’ to find out. As for me I will be heading out for a run soon
From running long distances, I know of the suffering and the pain. There is no plan that can avoid this, experiencing exhaustion, heat, but you will not give up. I cannot fathom running 3100miles, the documentary does put perspective on the ‘why’. It fascinates me to be able to run beyond perception and find yourself. With that in mind, the film puts a new perspective on running, something hidden with a spiritual enlightenment.