Ultra-marathoner Harita Davies, a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, made history today by becoming the first ever Kiwi woman to attempt and finish the longest certified footrace in history, the gruelling multi-day 3,100 mile Sri Chinmoy Ultra Race, described by the New York Times as “The Mount Everest of Ultramarathons.”
Harita ran over two marathons every day for 52 days straight, circling around a half-mile city block in a New York suburb during the heat, humidity and occasional thunderstorms of this New York summer. She finished on Wednesday, August 9th after starting her epic journey back in early June. Only one other New Zealander has ever attempted this feat.
This year ten intrepid runners and one race walker began this epic journey, an ultra which only a few actually finish. To cover the distance of 3100 miles (4988.9km), the runners need to average 95.9km per day – that’s more than two marathons a day for 52 days straight, running between 6am and midnight.
42 year old Harita Davies is the first New Zealand women to ever attempt such a distance, finishing in 4th place overall and becoming a New Zealand record holder.
She came to running through Sri Chinmoy, her Indian spiritual teacher who brought his particular form of spirituality from India to America in 1964. Sri Chinmoy’s principles of meditation and self-transcendence are practiced by his 7000 plus students around the world, with running being a unique part of their spiritual training. Sri Chinmoy saw physical fitness, particularly running, to be a perfect way to go beyond the mind’s limitations, to challenge ‘impossibility’, and to develop the necessary qualities of discipline, determination, will-power and perseverance which are essential for the spiritual journey towards happiness. She comments:
“ Just to keep going is an incredible lesson for the rest of life, and not being deterred by obstacles. They make you stronger and really help you develop faith, confidence, patience, and perseverance, qualities that are so essential in our living.
“During the race I was much more aware of my inner reality than I am in my regular life, and of the importance of my state of consciousness. The race was a tremendous opportunity to pray or to meditate and to be closer to my heart, to feelings of gratitude and happiness – everything else just fell away and my running became centre stage in my life, teaching me something fundamental about life itself. The outer running and the inner running towards simplicity and happiness are inseparable.”