The Sri Chinmoy 6 and 10 day races are underway in Flushing Meadow Corona Park in Queens. HURT regular Frederick Davis III is in the 10 day event and Wave Spofford from the Big Island is in the 6 day.
There are some outstanding runners there from around the world along with many followers of the late Sri Chinmoy. Pam Reed of Badwater fame is running to break the current women's record of 510 miles.
Yiannis Kourous holds the current men's record at 639+ miles set en route to 1000.
The event is 6 days instead of 7 to recognize the Sabbath.
Whoever runs the farthest wins.
The park is where Yiannis Kourous twice set world records for 24 hours (since improved by him to 188+) and Ann Trason once won the American 24 hour championships with 143 miles, beating all of the men. New Yorker Al Prawda made the Guiness Book by completing a 70 mile run, backwards. (I barely beat him going frontwards.) The 1964 world's fair was held in the park and the iconic geosphere is still there. Shea Stadium and the Tennis Center are nearby.
I used to run a lot of races on the one mile loop and the Sri's followers put on a well supported event. Even so, Wave has crew in Stephanie Amick, a canoe racer from Captain Cook who has crewed several island perimter runs, a Badwater double and Trans Australia. So he will be well cared for.
This particular form of torture (or 'enhance running') was popular in the late 1800's and events were well attended with daily press updates. Most were held indoors on dirt tracks and winners could collect thousands of dollars. The arenas were filled with smoke and there was heavy wagering as well which meant a runner might have his water supply tampered with or be hit by an object from the stands. Medical aid meant ailing runners legs would be bled or hung with leeches to purge the 'bad blood'. Many wore fancy silk shirts and carried silver-topped walking sticks. I hate to imagine the shoes.
It was 100 years before someone eclipsed John Rowell's 6 day record or even went over 600 miles after the event was revived in the 1980's.
My friend Ed Dodd wrote a book about these runs many years ago. It was excerpted in Rich Benyo's magazine bits of which you can find on the internet though the book is out of print. There were other varients of endurance running all with big (at that time) money at stake. These included point to point runs such as the length of Great Britain from John O' Groats to Lands End which some still do today. My personal favorite required the runner to complete one mile during each hour for 1000 hours.
The Trans-Am races were held in the 1920's and runners also had to compete in local races along the way to generate money and publicity. So after running in from the previous town they might have to compete in a 6 or 10 mile all out run against local competition and then continue across the country the next day. Honaunau's Kawika Spaulding completed a modern Trans-Am run in the mid 90's when the event enjoyed a brief revival, though without the local events.
Let's send Fred and Wave the aloha. If I get email updates from Stephanie I'll post in comments.