Into Great Distance


When did you last push past your imagined limits to see what you can accomplish – in running, mountain biking, hiking great distances, swimming, or in the inner challenges of transcending mental and spiritual constraints – as in acts of kindness, selflessness, defeating anxiety or fear or anger?

12 and 24-Hour Races

This weekend, September 28-29th, some 45 runners from all walks of life, varying levels of fitness and differing nationalities all congregated at Auckland’s North Shore Millennium Stadium to learn more about themselves, tackling hitherto unexplored distances, competing in the annual Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team’s 12 and 24-Hour Races. In mild, sunny conditions competitors circled a 400 metre track in one of their chosen races – the triple endurance options of 6 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours. At the limits of their known capacity and usual comforts, each would venture into the uncharted realms of themselves, tapping into the undiscovered strengths of will, determination, perserverance, courage – confronted by a failing, fatigued body, a wearied mind, how far would each person be able to travel, how many further miles advance on both the inner and outer journeying? The race name is appropriate – the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Championship.

12 and 24-Hour Races Races such as this are more a personal journey, almost a spiritual quest, and competitors bond and form a weekend family, unified and intimate in their shared trials and empathetic hearts. Struggling with themselves, they understand and deeply respect the efforts and sufferings of others. Only a few are competitors, seeking the podium’s spotlight, but the rest are elated at their experience, at having dared to start and overcome the fear of frightening distance, at the camaraderie of new friendships and kindred spirits. Overall 24 hour race victor this year was a French police woman – Natalie Schmitt from Noumea, New Caledonia –running  206 km, a remarkable achievement.

New Zealander Mike Field (201.2 km), Australia’s Tim Gibson (192 km) and Dunedin’s Greg Yee (188km) ran well in the men’s 24-hour, and Becky Nixon (186.69 km) ran a wonderful race to win the 2019 Athletics New Zealand 24-Hour women’s national championships.

All the way from Belgium, Kim Janssens  race-walked 161.6 km in 24 hours and, observed by walking judges, joined the elite fraternity of the New Zealand Centurion Walkers Club, those who have covered 100 miles or more in a 24 hour period. Philip Sharpe of the New Zealand Centurion Walkers Club presented Kim with the Kiwi Centurion walker’s medal.

In the Sri Chinmoy 12-Hour Race, Bryan McCorkindale (113.17 km) was just a few kilometers shy of the world 65-69 age best that he set here in 2017. Women’s 12-hour winner Val Muskett (98.17) km made a brave, determined effort to set a new world women’s 65-69 age best, but was just 2 km short. At the 24-hour awards ceremony members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team sang Sri Chinmoy’s ‘Congratultion’ song to the stoic 24-hour

For more photos click here.

For slideshow on NZ Herald click here.