October 2022: For 52-days this autumn, the 26th annual Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race was run by 11 brave souls.

Our singing group — the Enthusiasm-Awakeners — returned after a 2 year hiatus in our long tradition of singing each morning for the runners. We were joined by other enthusiastic singers forming a ‘enthusiasm support team’ at the race. It was great to see old friends and to meet new ones, whether they are runners, singers, helpers, teachers, students or neighbors.

Singing in pre-dawn hours. In the foreground is the “Prasad cart” where each morning we offered a small but soulful offering of a snack for the runners (and after singing, for the singers and helpers at the Race).

From 1996-2019 (23 years) the 3100 Mile Race has been held every summer around a 0.5488 mile loop in an urban New York neighborhood.  In 2020 because of the pandemic, the race directors were unable to arrange all the complex details to hold the race in New York. Yet there were runners who were eager to race, so the European branch of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team took up the hosting challenge. With 5 runners, the 2020 Race was successfully held inside a park in Salzburg, Austria — and this time in the autumn. A group of singers living in Europe kindly took up the routine of ‘Enthusiasm’ singing each morning. In 2021, the Race returned to New York and the race directors decided to change it to the autumn as well. However, as leader of the ‘enthusiasm’ singing here, I decided for various reasons to suspend our singing.

There are some obvious benefits to running the Race in autumn — specifically the absence of extreme heat and brutal humidity. That said, there are some new challenges — more rain. sometimes frigid weather, the pre-dawn starting time, and the fact the schools are in full-session.

The great, energetic and cheerful runner from Taiwan, Lo Wei-Ming, passes by the Enthusiasm-Awakeners singing group. His fluid running style always surprised me — he would often do a graceful, bouncy martial-dance-like performance as his passed by us. Despite our language-barriers we made a joyful and soulful connection with Wei-Ming and his wife Mei (who was his race helper/handler). This video taken early in the race shows Wei-Ming doing his excercise during a break.

Asphrihanal, from Finland, stopped by the day after he completed the 3,100 mile distance on day #45 to sing with us. He has now completed the 3100 Mile Race 16 times ( ! ) — and is the fastest ever — completing 3100 miles in just 40 days+09:06:21 in 2015. 

The 3100 Mile Race lasts for 52-consecutive days. This year, 11 elite ultra-distance runners aimed to individually complete 3100 miles in those 52 days (requiring an average of 59.6 miles *per* day. Per 52-consecutive days!). The runners are on the race course each and every day from 6 a.m. to midnight — taking a ‘required’ 6-hour break at midnight to go home and rest.

Our singing group arrives at 6:40 a.m. each morning and claps and sings for about 30-minutes. We then offer and take Prasad (food that is offered from a shrine) — then head off to our own daily obligations.

The songs we sing are composed by Sri Chinmoy. These songs are spiritual — sometimes mantric, sometimes illuming, sometimes educating, sometimes empathetic and oftentimes joyful. Sri Chinmoy composed over 23,000 songs in his lifetime (1931-2007). Most of these songs are in Bengali, his mother-language — but he also composed songs in English, a language which he was also proficient in. Our song group focuses on a very small portion of these songs — specifically English-language songs composed after December 1999 when our paticular song group was established.

A photo of the 11 runners at midnight after 52-days of racing, 25 October 2022.
Front row (left to right): Susan, Kaneenika, Nina and Nirbasha. 
Back row (left to right): Vasu, Ashprihanal, Wei-Ming, Andrea, Stutisheel, Ananda-Lahari and Stephen.

This year, six of the runners completed the full 3,100 mile distance — while the other five had challenges, such as injuries or illness, that meant they continued through the 52-days until midnight accumulating whatever mileage they could achieve despite those ‘set-backs’. See videos where Nina, Stephen(1), (2nd), Kaneenika(1),  (2nd),  Ananda-Lahari (1), (2nd); and Nirbhasa talk how they adjusted their goals and continued benefitting from their race experience despite knowing their original goal of reaching 3100 miles was not going to be possible. Alas, Kobi the 12th entered runner was knocked down with an illness on the first day and decided it best for himself to return home. Hopefully, we will see him again as he was so excited to start the race and we came to call him a good friend during his very successful 3100 Mile Race in 2019. (In addition to the video links above —and at the end of this page — see these for Andrea (1)  (2nd) Ashprihal. Wei-Ming, Vasu,  Susan, Stutisheel

Day 1 of singing. Since many students and teachers (and runners, of course) pass right in front of us each morning. With utmost respect for them we chose to wear face masks each day. 

I often comtemplate the shear determination and dedication of doing anything for 52-days straight (imagine if your job entailed  ‘no weekends, no vacation days’ for 52-days straight) — let alone it being for 18-hours a day with only a few tiny 15-minute breaks — let alone it being something so physical, mentally and spiritually as demanding as doing what amounts to between 2 and 3 marathons a day for 52-consecutive days.

Most of our singers managed a near-perfect ‘attendence’ each day and others came as their schedules allowed. I roughly estimated that the little offering of the ‘enthusiasm support team’ was less than 4% of the time that the runners spent on the race course. Yet graciously many of the runners took time to generously thank us in their finishing speeches.

One of the charming experiences that has developed over the years is that a few runners stop and tell us jokes.

Suan, assisted by race-helper Nurari, stops her world-class running to inject humour into the situation. In addition to funny one-liners, they did a series of “what is normal versus what is normal-at-the-3100-mile-race”. Very funny and clever.

This year, Stutisheel, Susan and Nirbhasa (individually) told us jokes on most days — with Andrea assisting on jokes on a few occassions and Vasu choosing to recite a soulful prayer several times. While it is generally just a less than 30-second event, the joy it brings to us, to other runners and to the runner themselves is tremendous. As one of our favourite songs goes:

“Just one smile
Immensely increases
The beauty of the universe.”

— Sri Chinmoy
(A God-Devotion-Teardrop Songbook)

Above: the day Vasu will complete 3,100 miles. Below: on the last day the names of the hero-runners who continued 52-days but due to extenuating circumstances wouldn’t manage the full distance.

A long-held tradition: on the day a runner will achieve their 3,100 miles — our singing group holds up a special banner to honour their victory. The banner is then moved down to the finish line area. 

Other photos, including some of historic images of founder Sri Chinmoy running in the 1980s & 1990s.
For hundreds of other 2022 Race photos (organized by day), visit: https://www.srichinmoyultraphoto.com/3100-mile-race/2022/

Songs we sing

During the race we sing through a total of about 210 short, energetic songs composed by Sri Chinmoy, which I’ve divided into sets (‘playlists’) of about 8-12 songs that we sing on a given day. We sing the songs many, many times over (as we often have guest singers who do not know the songs yet).

Below is our “playlist #47“. Kindly note that this is not a performance of the songs, it is just our *practice* recording (“practice” meaning please forgive the imperfections)

Each morning we also sing this set below — our “daily playlist“. Many of these songs were composed by Sri Chinmoy specifically for the 3100 Mile Race. (again, this is a *practice* recording and contains imperfections)

Other links to song lists:

Nearly all 23,000 of Sri Chinmoy songs are at www.srichinmoysongs.com

Song the Enthusiasm-Awakeners have learned :

  • Alphabetical listing of 1,529 songs which Sri Chinmoy composed in English after December 1999, is here
  • Complete lists of ‘playlists’ for singers who join us are here

Links to the 3100 Mile Race