Kiwi conquers world’s longest race


This article originally appeared in ‘Indianz Outlook’, August 2010

Dharbhasana Lynn has redefined the word “impossible” by setting a New Zealand record for ultra-distance running. He finished 6th overall in this year’s Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in New York, gaining the national record for longest distance covered in a certified footrace.

Dharbhasana battled injury, fatigue and heat waves to complete the event in 51 days, 13 hours and 17 minutes. He had to run an average of approximately 60 miles per day between 6am and midnight to make the 52 day cut-off.

The race takes place around an 883 metre block in suburban Queens, New York City. With a public school and sports field situated along the course, the athletes are fully immersed in the atmosphere of daily life. While the view is less than picturesque and its hard concrete pavement not the ideal running terrain, the central location allows Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team race organisers to provide almost round-the-clock support .

In describing his motivation to undergo such an intense odyssey Dharbhasana says “you can always challenge yourself to do the best you possibly can and not think about the what-ifs. There is too much fear around. You can give every particular moment everything you’ve got and live every day as if it is your last.”

Dharbhasana is an amateur runner with no previous national titles although he has finished dozens of marathons and competed in races of up to 10 days. He was assisted by his wife and daughter, who traveled to New York in order to provide constant support including a vegan diet of natural, whole foods.

The 3100 Mile Race is an annual event founded in 1997 by fitness advocate Sri Chinmoy. In 2010 it attracted 11 elite ultra-runners, only 6 of whom finished. It is the longest in a series of races inspired by Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence. Sri Chinmoy believed that exercise, particularly running, has numerous spiritual benefits. This view is also shared by the Tendai Buddhist ‘marathon monks’ who seek enlightenment through running. Sri Chinmoy said that running “reminds us of our inner journey to self-knowledge”. He is widely considered to be one of the key figures responsible for the increasing popularity of ultra-running.