On 3rd March 1979, Sri Chinmoy ran his first marathon, in Chico, California, completing the distance in a time of 4:31:34. In the next four years Sri Chinmoy would run 21 more marathons, but perhaps more significantly, he would inspire many runners to follow the philosophy of self-transcendence and take up long-distance running. 40 years after his first marathon, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team continue to promote marathons and ultra distance races across the globe.
In honour of this significant milestone in the history of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, groups of runners from around the world held running events, including 70 members who travelled to Chico, California. Marathon. Events were also held in many different places around the world, including in Bristol (UK), Melbourne (Australia), Dublin (Ireland), Augsburg (Germany), Sao Paolo (Brazil), New York (US), and Zlin (Czech Republic). The weather varied from 37 degrees heatwave in Australia to a below freezing snow-storm in New York.
Race Reports from around the globe
Vasudha, our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team co-ordinator in San Diego, writes: "Some 60 members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from the US, Canada, Great Britain, and even Mongolia met in Chico, California to celebrate a significant milestone in the history of our team. On March 3, 1979, Sri Chinmoy ran his first marathon in Chico, California. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of this signal event - which in turn helped to launch the worldwide organisation that today sponsors hundreds of footraces, duathlons, triathlons, swimming events, and more - team members ran along the same course in beautiful Bidwell Park. The race that was then a full marathon - the Bidwell Classic - now features a half marathon and a 5K. In addition to participating in both these distances - and nabbing 13 age-group awards - Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team members hosted an aid station and cheered all the race participants who braved the cold, rainy weather. After finishing the half marathon, seven athletes covered an additional 13.1 miles to complete the marathon distance and to honour Sri Chinmoy's inaugural marathon."
In Australia the weekend co-incided with the arrival of the runners from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, who were finishing the Australian leg of a 44-country journey that will carry the Peace Torch all nations in the Southern Hemisphere - the first time that the torch has gone all the way around the world as part of one run. As a result there were over 55 Australian and international runners - who fortunately were well-acclimatised for the heat, which hovered in the high 30s towards the end of the race.
In New York, the weather veered to the other extreme - due to the cold and freezing snow on the track, the official race was cancelled. However, some intrepid runners wished to run their own personal marathon. With no official aid station, five runners - four women and one man, completed the distance, with many other runners completing several laps to take part in the spirit of the event, despite the outer challenges. Brazilian members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team marked the event by running a 13 hours race in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo from 8 am to 9 pm - 6 men and 4 women ran a total of 671km.
In Dublin, runners also faced freezing temperatures with rain, biting wind and temperatures hovering above freezing. Despite these challenging conditions, six members of the Irish Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team remained undaunted by the weather and successfully completed the marathon distance.
Sri Chinmoy felt that running marathons was an excellent complement to the 'inner running' - the spiritual life.
Spiritual people often like running because it reminds them of their inner journey. The outer running reminds them that a higher, deeper, more illumining and more fulfilling goal is ahead of them in the inner world, and for that reason running gives them real joy.
Long-distance running gives us a real feeling of accomplishment. We can run 100 metres forty times during the year and not feel the same sense of accomplishment as when we run one marathon. But speed and endurance are both important, especially in the spiritual life. If one has only speed, then one cannot ultimately succeed; we need endurance because the goal is quite far. Again, if one has only stamina and no speed, then it will take forever to reach the goal. Only if someone has both qualities will he be able to make very good progress in his spiritual life and achieve something really great in life.
Sri Chinmoy's Marathon Runs
March 3, 1979 - Bidwell Classic - Chico, CA - 4:31:34
March 25, 1979 - Heart-Watchers Marathon - Toledo,OH - 3:55:07
May 6, 1979 - Newsday-Long Island Marathon - Long Island, NY - 4:16:23
May 12, 1979 - Champlain Valley Mar. - Plattsburgh, NY - 4:41:16
Oct. 6, 1979 - Phidippides Marathon - Athens, Greece - 5:39:41
Oct. 21, 1979 - New York City Marathon - New York, NY - 4:48:53
Dec. 2, 1979 - Jersey Shore Marathon - Asbury Park, NJ - 4:33:44
May 24, 1980 - Solo Run - Munich, Germany - 4:30:00
June 1, 1980 - Sri Chinmoy Marathon - San Mateo, CA - 5:18:31
Feb. 1, 1981 - Inspiration Marathon - Hampton, NH - 5:22:11
March 7, 1981 - Bidwell Classic - Chico, CA - 4:30:21
Oct. 25, 1981 - New York City Marathon - New York, NY - 4:36:22
May 2, 1982 - Newsday-Long Island Marathon - L.I., NY - 4:26:56
Oct. 24, 1982 - New York City Marathon - New York, NY - 4:44:41
Nov. 7, 1982 - Sri Chinmoy Marathon - Zurich, Switz. - 4:36:00
Nov. 14, 1982 - Jersey Shore Marathon - Asbury Park, NJ - 4:22:57
Dec. 5, 1982 - Sri Chinmoy Marathon - San Juan, PR - 5:12:00
Dec. 31, 1982 - Sri Chinmoy Marathon - Okinawa, Japan - 4:33:43
Jan. 22, 1983 - Orange Bowl Marathon - Miami, FL - 5:33:33
Jan. 30, 1983 - Solo Run - Flushing Meadow, NY - 5:20:03
Feb. 6, 1983 - Inspiration Marathon - Hampton, NH - 5:56:59
Feb. 20, 1983 - Solo Run - Hempstead, NY - 5:25:20