Ultra Races and Guinness Records
The following is an article written for a New Zealand athletics magazine in 2005.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team has had a good year. 30,000 Kiwi school kids participated in the New Zealand leg of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team sponsored World Harmony Run, a 70 nation torch relay dedicated to fostering international friendship through sport, and up and down the country everyone's looking forward to a bigger and better 2006 version next May. And Auckland members earlier travelled to New York to help in one the worlds most gruelling and mind-boggling sports events, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team's 3,100 mile footrace. Held around a 1 km loop in the humidity and heat of the continents east coast summer, the longest certified race in the world requires each of the athletes to cover an average of 64 plus miles per day – for 48 consecutive days – to finish by the cut-off date. Amazingly only one competitor did not finish the 2005 race!
Then New York based marathon team member Ashrita Furman – a recent New Zealand visitor – really put his organisation in the media world wide. He recently set his 100th Guinness World Record and currently holds the Guinness record for holding the most Guinness world records! He was in Auckland in 2003 to juggle three lead balls for 48 minutes non-stop at the bottom of Kelly Tarlton's aquarium, an event he calls 'gluggling'. During his first attempt a tiny parrot fish kept biting him on the nose – distracted, he dropped a ball at 16 minutes and had to start again!
Some of Ashrita's other records include the fastest mile pushing an orange with his nose; the longest time balancing on a Swiss ball (3 hours, 30 minutes); the fastest mile on a pogo stick; and the most milk crates ever balanced on anyone's chin! Oh, and don't forget he balanced a milk bottle on his head continuously for 81 miles of race-walking; pogosticked up the 1,900 steps of Toronto's CN Tower; somersaulted the entire twelve and a quarter mile length of Paul Revere's ride in Massachusetts; and had to be helped off the Oprah Winfrey Show by paramedics when he consumed on camera some of the world's hottest chilli peppers.
In Auckland the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team hosted New Zealand's national 24 hour track race at the Millennium Stadium – two competitors joined an elite race-walkers global fraternity, the Centurion's Club, exceeding the entry qualifying distance of 100 miles within 24 hours. And in Canberra, aided by some of our Kiwi team, the Australian Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organised three of the biggest triathlons in the southern hemisphere, including the gruelling three day Ultra-Triathlon in which competitors complete a 15 km swim, 400 km cycle leg, and 100 km run!
In New York, Marathon Team founder Sri Chinmoy, 74 years old and still incredibly strong, met world marathon champions Paul Tergat (2:04:55), Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) and Tegla Loroupe (2:20:43) and presented each with a special award honouring their achievements in running. Sri Chinmoy has long maintained that a human being will some day complete a sub two hour marathon! - and believes that the main barrier is not a physical but a spiritual one.
Athletes have long known of the relationship between mind-body-spirit in sporting success – the principle of holistics – and practitioners of yoga, meditation and multi-day sports events have for centuries explored this principle to gain an edge and transcend their physical limitations. Recently Sri Chinmoy attracted renewed interest and attention in the mind-body connection with several astonishing feats of his own. He hoisted two huge dumbbells weighing 740lbs overhead from their cradle on a custom-built exercise machine, then went on to wrist curl – 10 times with each arm – a record 256lb dumbbell.
"Out of all the weightlifters and champion bodybuilders I have seen," respected weightlifting authority and Mr Olympia Contest Chairman Wayne DeMilia commented, "Sri Chinmoy is the only one I have ever seen wrist curl a 200 pound dumbbell." And Jim Smith, Registrar of the British Amateur Weight Lifters Association said, "The strongest men in the world are seeing that a 74-year-old man is curling with one arm much more than twice the weight that the world's best bodybuilders and weightlifters can curl with two arms."
Why does Sri Chinmoy bother to lift these super-heavy weights at what he describes as 'the ripe old age of 74'? In his own words:
"What I wish to show by these feats of strength is that prayer and meditation can definitely increase one's outer capacities. I hope that by doing this I will be able to inspire many people to pray and meditate sincerely as part of their regular daily routine... The physical body has to become a pure and perfect instrument of the spirit. I am doing these lifts with the physical body, but the strength and power are coming from within – from an inner source."
Sri Chinmoy's recent weightlifting achievements encourage us not to grow old, to dare to tackle new challenges, to believe in our own unlimited potential – the fullness in life, he tell us, is in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.
Spiritual FriendsPreetidutta Thorpe Auckland, New Zealand
Underneath our differences, personalities and individualities lies a very familiar oneness, a deep love and a unique understanding.
A Seeker's DirectnessSumangali Morhall York, United Kingdom
A young man came up to me before a meditation class a while ago, asking very direct questions. I admire and enjoy directness; it's refreshing.
Help From AboveToshala Elliott Auckland, New Zealand
In the first year of my PhD I became Sri Chinmoy's student; however my family circumstances were in the throes of upheaval...