Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival
The complete track package, from the Marathon to 48 Hours
About the event
Welcome to the Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, offering a smorgasbord of track races from the Marathon to the 48 Hour Ultra-Marathon, at the world-class AIS Athletics Track, Bruce, Canberra on dates to be announced in 2024.
The program features:
* Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track race
2023 Australian National 48 Hour Championship
IAU Silver Label event
* Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour Track race
IAU Silver Label event
* Sri Chinmoy 12 Hour Track race
IAU Silver Label event
(Note: participants who wish to race 100km should enter the 12 Hour event. Precise 100km splits will be recorded and published.)
* Sri Chinmoy 6 Hour Track race
IAU Silver Label event
* Sri Chinmoy Midnight Marathon
Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival
In March 2023, Camille Herron set a record for the ages at the Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival.
- 10am, 24 March
- $330 earlybird till 5pm, 24 Jan 2023
- $380 boarding call till 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- $420 final call after 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- Online entries close 5pm, 22 March 2023
- 12 noon, 24 March
- $190 early bird till 5pm, 24 Jan 2023
- $240 boarding call till 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- $280 final call after 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- Online entries close 5pm, 22 March 2023
- 10am, 25 March
- $120 early bird till 5pm, 24 Jan 2023
- $150 boarding call till 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- $180 final call after 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- Online entries close 5pm, 22 March 2023
- 2pm 25 March
- $80 early bird till 5pm, 24 Jan 2023
- $95 boarding call till 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- $110 final call after 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- Online entries close 5pm, 22 March 2023
- 12pm (Sat night) 25 March
- $70 early bird till 5pm, 24 Jan 2023
- $85 boarding call till 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- $95 final call after 5pm, 24 Feb 2023
- Online entries close 5pm, 22 March 2023
ContactPrachar Stegemann+61 404 071 327Send Email
- IAU Silver Label Event – 48 Hour, 24 Hour, 12 Hour and 6 Hour races
- AURA National Championship event (48 Hour race)
Program of Events
Friday 24 March
7.30am onwards Access to AIS track for 48 Hour participants for set-up
8.30am onwards Access to AIS track for 24 Hour participants for set-up
9am – 9.30am Registration for 48 Hour race
10am – 48 Hour race commences, lanes 1 & 2
11am – 11.30am Registration for 24 Hour race at AIS
12noon – 24 Hour race commences, lanes 3 & 4
Saturday 25 March
9am – 9.30am Registration for 12 Hour race at AIS
10am – 12 Hour race commences, lanes 1 & 2
12noon – 24 Hour race concludes
12.30pm – Awards for 24 Hour race
1pm – 1.30pm Registration for 6 Hour race at AIS
2pm – 6 Hour race commences, lanes 3 & 4
8pm – 6 Hour race concludes
8.30pm – Awards for 6 Hour race
10pm – 12 Hour race concludes
10.30pm – Awards for 12 Hour race
11pm – 11.30pm Registration for Midnight Marathon at AIS
12 midnight – Midnight Marathon commences, lanes 3 & 4
Sunday 26 March
(Awards for Midnight Marathon presented individually as runners finish)
8am – cut-off for Midnight Marathon
10am – 48 Hour race concludes
10.30am – Awards for 48 Hour race
Before the Race
If you will be camping at the track, please inform the Race Director beforehand and upon arrival at the track so you may be directed to the correct camp site.
The infield (centre of the ground) is available for all support crew to set up tents and sleeping quarters. The infield grass area is available for camping from 7.30am Friday to 12 noon Sunday.
No pegs are to be used. Sand from the sand pits is available – please bring your own containers or securing devices.
It is desirable that you bring your own tables and comfortable chairs (if you can). Preference for the provision of tables and chairs will be given to people travelling by air from interstate.
You will be able to set up your drink table and chairs in a defined Crewing Zone, to be located on the infield of the track.
Registration for each race will open trackside one hour prior to each event start; and will close 30 minutes prior to the event start. Compulsory race briefing will be 20 minutes prior to each race start.
Registration and race briefing times are:
48 Hour race: registration 9am – 9.30am Friday 24 March at the AIS; race briefing trackside 9.40am Friday 24 March
24 Hour race: registration 11am – 11.30am Friday 24 March at the AIS; race briefing trackside 11.40am Friday 24 March
12 Hour race: registration at AIS Athletics Track 9am – 9.30am Saturday 25 March; race briefing trackside 9.40am Saturday 25 March
6 Hour race: registration at AIS Athletics Track 1pm – 1.30pm Saturday 25 March; race briefing trackside 1.40pm Saturday 25 March
Midnight Marathon: registration at AIS Athletics Track 11pm – 11.30pm Saturday 25 March; race briefing trackside 11.40pm Saturday 25 March
Each entrant will receive a timing chip on an ankle bracelet and two race number bibs. The bib numbers must be worn on the front and back at all times. We recommend an elastic belt to allow for fast clothes changes.
During the race
Average daily temperatures for Canberra in March range from 11°C min to 25 °C max, though considerably higher temperatures have been experienced in recent years, and should be anticipated.
Given the weather variability at this time of year please bring a range of clothing suitable for a wide range of conditions including heat, cold, rain and/or wind.
As individual athletes have different food/drink requirements and tastes it is recommended that competitors bring their own specific food/drink for the event. Water, sports drink, flat Coke, sweets, snacks, seaweed and a selection of nourishing foods will be provided at two trackside aid stations – one on the infield for the exclusive use of 48 Hour runners, and the other in lane 5 for the use of entrants in all other races.
Additional Food and Drink Offered for 48, 24 and 12 Hour Runners
About every four hours, a hot soup and one other item will be made available for runners in the 48, 24 and 12 hour events. This will include a variety of simple home made soups, pasta, mashed potato, sweet potato, rice pudding, toasties – and ice blocks if it gets hot. These will be kept warm in a bain marie in small track side kitchen area for runners’ helpers to collect. Also in this area will be a hot urn, with tea and coffee available throughout the event.
A microwave, hot water urn plus tea/coffee/hot chocolate/miso/soup etc will also be available throughout the event at the trackside kitchen at the far end of the track.
Helpers – Meal Vouchers
For runners’ helpers, meal vouchers will be available for $70 for the 48 Hour race and $30 for the 24 Hour race. The meal voucher will entitle 48 Hour helpers to lunch and dinner on Friday, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday; and 24 Hour helpers to lunch and dinner on Friday, and breakfast on Saturday morning. Meal voucher holders will also have unlimited acess to tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc. Meal vouchers can be purchased online at the time of online registration. Individual meals can also be purchased on the day for $10/meal depending on availability.
Helpers Meal Vouchers Menu, 2022 (to be updated for 2023)
All food is vegetarian.
Friday lunch – veggie burger and brownie
Friday dinner – lasagne & salad with homemade cookie
Saturday breakfast – "Not bacon" (ie vegetarian) & egg pie with spinach muffins & homemade sourdough
Saturday lunch – curry, rice & dhal + apricot slice
Saturday dinner – lentil bake & salad + lemon slice
Sunday breakfast – scrambled eggs, spinach & mushrooms on homemade sourdough
Note: this menu includes items containing gluten, nuts and dairy products. Please advise IN ADVANCE if you have any allergies or other requirements in respect of these meals.
- Toilets and showers are available trackside throughout the Festival.
- First aid is provided for the full Festival. The venue is also less than 5 minutes from Calvary Hospital, which has a 24 hour emergency department.
- Rest rooms attached to the male and female toilet and shower blocks will be open for breaks, sleeping or changing.
- Within the AIS campus you will find a swimming pool, spa, cafe and AIS clothing store.
- Dedicated car parking for entrants and crew (free of charge).
- View the AIS campus map.
The race venue is 5 minutes' drive from 2 major shopping centres:
Westfield Belconnen is a large shopping centre and has multiple chain and specialty stores, 24hr KMart and late night Woolies and Coles. Westfield Belconnen is located on Benjamin Way, Belconnen.
Jamison Centre is a closer local shopping centre, hosting Coles, Aldi and other specialty stores. Jamison Centre is on Bowman Street, Macquarie.
As this is an IAU certified event, the following crewing rules must be observed or competitor disqualification may occur:
- Crew/helpers may not enter the course nor obstruct any athlete. They may hand the refreshment to the athlete either from behind, or from a position no more than one metre in front or to the side of, the refreshment table.
- Crews are not able to pass food/drinks to their competitors anywhere else on the track outside of the defined Crewing Zone.
- Crews are not allowed to run/walk with competitors at any time during the race.
In practice, what this means is that if a runner needs to give instructions to their support crew, or a crew has to provide information to the runner, they either have to do it in the seconds that the runner passes by the table or the runner has to stop for more detailed interactions.
- No smoking, alcohol or pets allowed in the boundaries of the venue during the entire period of the event.
Note: This applies to participants, crews and spectators.
- The computer lap scoring tent is strictly out of bounds to all except those involved in lap scoring. All queries to go to the race director/referee who will liaise with lap scorers/timing. The lap scoring team will provide a live display to competitors and a separate live screen for crews and spectators as well as having live results available online via the event website.
Portable music players may be used for all except the first and last 15 minutes of the race.
Please allow faster movers to be on the inside of a lane. Please move to the outside of the lane (lane 1 or 3) or the next lane (lane 2 or 4) to allow faster athletes to continue.
LANES 1 & 2 Reserved for athletes in the 48 Hour race AND the 12 Hour race. Single file only please, unless overtaking. Crews for the 48 Hour race and 12 Hour race will be located on the inside of the track.
- LANES 3 & 4 Reserved for athletes in all other races. Single file only please, unless overtaking. Crews for these events will be located in LANE 6 of the track on the main straight.
- There is no lane reserved exclusively for walkers.
- Entry to and from the track to either the toilet block or crew area will be at the 50 metre point, directly under the large display screen.
- Athletes taking extended breaks from the track or withdrawing from their event should alert the race director/referee. In the latter case the timing chip and Velcro strap must be returned or a $100 fee will be incurred.
- Crew support is only allowed from the tables used by each athlete on the home straight. The remaining 300 metres of the track is a “no crewing zone”. Please be aware that the competitor may be disqualified if they receive support in the 300 metre “no crewing zone”, except in a true medical emergency.
- No supporter pacing is allowed, including anywhere on the inside of the field or in any of the outer lanes.
- It is strongly recommended that all runners and crews runners read and understand the following document. This is particularly important for runners on record attempts who should note any perceptions of “pacing”: http://www.aura.asn.au/data/General/Guidelines_on_Assistance_to_Athletes_AURA_Version_1_September_2012.pdf
- Competitors are responsible for the actions of their crews and supporters.
- All complaints and/or protests to be made in writing to the race director/referee.
- Rule violations may lead to disqualification.
- An appeal can be lodged track side to a race director/referee within 30 minutes of the incident or decision being appealed.
- The appeal will be reviewed by an expert panel consisting of the Race Director, Timing Official and an a representative of AURA. The outcome of the panel will be final.
- Competitors are to advise in advance in writing of any record attempts at any of the race distances or events. Given the large numbers of runners on the track, crews of these competitors should work with the timing official to alert of upcoming key distances/times that need recording (some require extra stopwatch validation or markers dropped on track with wheel measurement).
- NO CHIP = NO TIME. If you neglect to wear the anklet chip or race bib chips and complete any laps without the chip, you will not be credited with these, irrespective of video recording. Crews should take responsibility for ensuring their runner is always wearing their chip(s), particularly when the anklet with timing chip or either of the race bibs with chips have been taken off for any reason. It is recommended to wear socks well above the ankle to ensure there is no chafing from the timing chip anklet.
- Each athlete will receive two Race Numbers, which are to be securely pinned front and back (not on the side). It is best to place these on a race number belt or vest for easy changing of clothes. Two race numbers are given for identification by the video back up recording system.
- Each walker must walk honestly in such a way that he/she is not gaining an unfair advantage over other competitors through his/her mode of walking. Walkers are not expected to strictly comply with current race walking rules unless pursuing a specific walking record. Otherwise, styles ranging from proper racewalking to brisk street walking are acceptable.
- Walkers attempting walking records will be notified of any style infringements. A competitor may be retired from the race if repeated warnings do not bring about a satisfactory modification to walking style.
- Race rules are not able to include every possible scenario that can play out in such long endurance events. Fair play, good sportsmanship and the absence of actions perceived of as gaining unfair advantage are deeply appreciated.
Please always be considerate of other competitors on the track. Track etiquette should enable the faster runners/walkers to pass on the inside of the track. If you are using the inside lane please do so only in single file.
If you wish to run or walk alongside another runner or walker please move into the outside lanes.
If you are doing some slower laps please move away from the inside lane to enable faster entrants to pass without having to move around you.
All runners will change direction approximately every 4 hours, around a cone placed at the start line between lanes 1 & 2 for the 48 Hour and 12 Hour races, and between lanes 3 & 4 for all other races. Direction changes will be announced a few minutes in advance. Please turn from lane 1 into lane 2, and from lane 3 into lane 4, and remain in the outer lane until all runners have been passed in the reverse direction. If a runner is off the track at the time of a direction change, the runner must complete the lap in the same direction they were heading at the time of leaving the track, before completing the direction change at the start line – be sure to notify the timers when this is the case.
In accordance with IAU protocols, in the time-limited events (48 Hours, 24 Hours, 12 Hours and 6 Hours) any partial laps completed at the end of the race will be accurately measured with a measuring wheel. Thus, during the last 5 to 10 minutes of the race, competitors will be handed a small bean bag or equivalent marker with their race number on it. This is to be held until the final countdown to zero (PA system) or final siren/gun signalling the end of the chosen race. Unless racing for a pre-nominated record it is recommended that competitors gradually ease down their speed and move close to the track edge during the last 10 sec countdown so that they can stop walking/running abruptly at the final signal (no carryover). At this moment the marker bag should be dropped as close as possible to the edge of the track adjacent to the foot closest to the track edge.
A Race Marshal will soon attend to each competitor, check their number, mark their finish position and then acknowledge that it is OK to depart the track. Competitors are allowed to have a helper bring them a blanket/warm clothes and a chair if required.
2023 Mar 26thSri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, Canberra, 24 – 26 March 2023
Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Race
“Transcendence is perfection.
Perfection is transcendence.
When we transcend our capacities,
Immediately we get an inner joy,
An inner thrill,
Which is another name for perfection.
No perfection can ever be achieved
– Sri Chinmoy
Previous women’s World Record for 48 hours: 411.458 km ...
New women’s World Record for 48 hours: 435.336 km ...
The stage was set, the curtain raised, cast assembled. Legendary Australian and World marathon champion, former World Record holder and founder of the Indigenous Marathon Project, Robert de Castella AO MBE acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land, then offered some prescient words for the runners now nervously gathered at the start:
“It’s only through the difficult challenges in life that we really find out who we are. This is an opportunity for us not just to develop our physical strength and our wellness, but also our spirit.”
With this perfect summation of what was about to unfold, Australia’s greatest marathoner gave the starting orders – and thence gradually, inexorably, before our eyes over the ensuing 48 hours, a new history unfurled.
On the eve of the race, Camille Herron had remarked: “I feel like there is magic inside me every time I toe the line. I know that there is the possibility that I am going to do something magical and I have to keep going and persevering and working through all the challenges… I hope to see it through to a new record and to find out more about what’s possible for women, and what my human limits could be.”
Thus it was spoken: now it would be revealed and manifested.
Little did we know when preparing to stage, participate in, or spectate at yet another race, that we would be joining an event of historical significance for our sport, our own lives and the progress of our world family: an event which changes everything, and potentially, everyone.
Camille Herron came to this race an established superstar. She departs, a supreme champion. Even if she were never to run another race, Camille’s name is now etched on the honour board of running immortals, synonymous with soaring vision, stellar daring, dauntless conviction, exuberant excellence, superlative athletic prowess, wholehearted sacrifice, consummate self-giving and dazzling glory. Canberra’s AIS Athletics Track has hosted numerous Olympians and high-level competitions, yet it will forever resonate and be remembered for this one resounding achievement. The guiding purpose of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team is the promotion and facilitation of self-transcendence as a means to personal wellbeing and the progress of humanity: thus this race itself, this Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, has achieved through this diamond offering, its pinnacle fulfilment.
On track, Camille was an ocean liner, bravely and blithely coursing through the ocean waters of the known, the unknown and unknowable, casting aside all fear, insecurity, doubt and pain in her wake and spreading a wave-surge of sparkling joy and coruscating confidence all around the track for others to surf upon. As the stadium flood lights lit up the track; so the flood of Camille’s inner light and aspiration, lit up the race.
As barriers receded, new landmarks were planted:
Marathon – 3:30:18
6 hours – 72.243 km
100 km – 8:49:41
12 hours – 131.807 km
100 miles – 14:41:04
200 km – 20:01:18
24 hours – 239.480 km
So far, all marks were ahead of World Record pace. But Camille would soon be running beyond what she had ever run in a race before. How would she cope physically and mentally with that challenge, flying so high, untethered from the mundane, soaring dauntless beyond the comfort-clouds of the known?
From the outside, we see only the relentless gait, the incessant forward momentum, the surges along the back straight, the searing focus, the never-fading smile: we don’t see the sheer crushing enormity of the inner Himalayan quest, the sky-vast faith and ocean-depth of daring, the adamantine courage and laser determination amidst battering storms of obstacles. We know there was physical suffering and mental torment: around about the 18 hour point when the world was closing in on her, Camille reached an agreement with husband and coach, Conor Holt, that she would continue to 24 hours, gain a qualifying time for the US National team to compete in the World Championships later in the year, and exit the race. This had been her first goal and motivation for coming to Australia, so that box would be ticked. But as 24 hours neared, those inner clouds passed, the landscape shifted within, Camille hearkened again to the stirring of her inner magic – and the plan evolved. She would stay and run, and run – sleep when required, then run again, and run – and run some more, then run some … then, run.
Knowing that she had to face the same hurdles and demons as every other runner; that she is 100% human in every sinew and heartbeat after all; that she too, struggled to rouse herself from every mini-break – is not only comforting to us mortals who can barely get out of bed in the morning, it further heightens the value and magnifies the worth of Camille’s achievement. We expect perfection from the perfect: when we witness the miraculous from the human, our own human sympathy is touched, our wonder engaged, our inspiration ignited, our capacities aroused and our aspiration surcharged. We are transformed.
At the awards presentations post-race, Camille put into words the phenomenon we had all felt, witnessed and been swept up into for 48 hours straight: “I just have such a relentless joy when I run…” Such a simple statement, embodying a universe of spiritual truth, depth, power and infinite possibility for all humanity… a veritable mantra for life.
Camille continued: “I really thank everybody who got to be here and be part of it; making history for women. … It was an amazing moment; I hope everybody appreciates what I just did: it was ridiculous!”
To put in context just how “ridiculous” is this achievement: Camille ran the 3rd furthest of any human in 48 hours, after only Yiannis Kouros of Greece, and Andrii Tkachuk of Ukraine. Yes – though this is incidental – they are both men. Camille’s distance is only 110 metres short of the mark set by Tkachuk at the Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour race in Vinnitsa, Ukraine in 2021. Tkachuk would later be called up to serve in the Ukraine military, and hospitalised after sustaining injuries in the war. His running career is presently on hold – he would not be able to defend his record if it were broken right now, as he defends his country and his people’s very existence.
The previous 3rd furthest human over 48 hours was none other than Dr Martin Fryer, the timer and race referee for this event, whose incredible 433.686 km set in Surgères, France in 2009 was the final barrier Camille would surpass today. Fittingly, Martin – now one of the world’s most qualified and respected coaches of ultra runners – was on hand throughout the race, offering practical advice, wisdom and boundless inspiration to assist Camille to transcend his own phenomenal PB and was trackside to personally witness and graciously surrender his record to Camille.
Camille is now a daunting 24 km ahead of the previous women’s record of 411.458 km, set just 6 weeks earlier by Jo Zakrwzeski of the UK in Taipei, Taiwan; and far clear of both the US Women’s and Men’s 48 hour records.
In the context of this Festival – and this in no way diminishes the fabulous efforts of all the event winners – Camille's split times would have won her every race on the program: Marathon, 6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour and 48 hour.
A sample of media coverage of this World Record:
– Runners are Smilers blog
– Run 247
Rare indeed, is the race where a gap of 140+ km separates 1st place from 2nd – just one of innumerable extraordinary outcomes of an event that seemingly took place on a rarefied, super-human plane … another example: despite being only a quarter of its length and with a smaller field, more runners would withdraw from the 12 hour race than from the 48 hour event.
Gesiane Nascimento from Brazil, is a relative newcomer to running, with 2 previous 48 hour races, and using this event as preparation for the Sri Chinmoy 10 Day Race in Flushing Meadows, New York next month. Striking in colourful costumes and running sandals, Gesiane explored and transcended many inner and outer limits in her journey. Impressing all through her devotion and eagerness, Gesiane collected 259.849 km for a Personal Best and 2nd place female.
The next 4 ranked women all represent the Golden Age of Ultra Running – the 50-59 bracket. Paola Flury ran a beautifully controlled race to take out the main prize in the F50-59 with 243.784 km; from Beck Myors’ 226.16 km; evergreen Karen Woon Cheung Chan with 219.019 km; and Australian 1,000 km record-holder, Annabel Hepworth offering her wealth of experience to the race, while depositing a round 200 km into her vast treasury of lifetime miles raced. Alison To, in the Female Under 50, consistently wore the brightest smiles while gathering 173.135 km.
Rare it is, to find the top 3 places of an open men’s running race claimed by two 50+ year-old walkers and a 70+ year-old runner!
Carrying on the trend set in the 6 hour and 12 hour races, local Canberra lad, Joffrid Mackett returned the race of his life – winning the men’s 48 hour race, claiming the title of AURA National Men’s 48 Hour Champion, all from the supposedly “older” Male 50-59 category … and did I mention, Joffrid WALKED the whole way? Loaded with trophies, Joffrid also walked into fame, claiming the all-comers 48 hour Australian National walking record with his 294.973 km (previous record was 283.5 km), and entered the exclusive “Centurion” club by walking 100 miles during the first 24 hours of the race.
Having set new Australian men’s 70+ records last year from 6 hours up to 24 hours, Greg Wilson from Kyneton in Victoria came to Canberra with a clear purpose – and no prizes for guessing what his goals were! Cliff Young will forever remain an icon of Australian ultra distance running, and a few of his records have stood for 30 years – including his M70 48 hour mark. Greg showed incredible focus and discipline – even eschewing the chance of claiming some intervening records along the way, as that would have entailed running out of the zone he had set for himself – aiming unerringly for the 200 km record, which he broke by 6 hours, then continuing all the way to a stellar new 48 hour record of 287.404 km, which also earned Greg the 2nd placed AURA National (Open) Men’s Championship trophy. In addition to his own records, over a span of decades Greg has participated in World Record breaking race performances by the greatest male and female ultra runners – Yiannis Kouros and Camille Herron.
Greg was in esteemed company indeed in the 70+ category. Ron Schwebel has been twice Australian 48 Hour Champion and twice 24 Hour Champion, and held 17 National records, which he has since kindly passed on to others. Ron’s presence on the track and vast experience are a boon to all and we’re most grateful he continues to compete. The figures tell only a glimpse of his value to the event, his 207.6 km a priceless contribution to the collective story. John Timms at 80+ years, is the oldest Australian 6 day runner still running – and on occasion when his inner sprinter comes to the fore, flying – bringing a unique energy and application, and completing a mightily impressive 167.2 km over the full 48 hours.
Also walking 100 miles in 24 hours, David Billett from Adelaide, showed amazing equanimity and persistence throughout, despite coming up just short of his personal best – yet nevertheless claimed 3rd place trophy in the AURA National Men’s Championship, and the admiration of all, with 266.705 km.
Completing the talent-packed Male 50-59 category, Robert Flury (206.476 km), Zed Zlotnick (205.607 km) and debut 48-hour runner, Paul Gay (186.285 km) all saw out the full 48 hours on track, while Andrew Meagher made it to within touching distance, taking a bow after 173.2 km and nearly 46 hours. The sole entrant in the Male 60-69 category, and one of the most gracious gentlemen among a packed field of contenders, Anyce Melham – who holds the world record for most Sri Chinmoy 24 hour races completed (33, plus three 48 hour races) – found his body simply not cooperating this year, saw the writing on the wall and returned his timing chip after 14 hours and 92 km.
Racing at full intensity at an élite level, exerting one’s all towards and beyond one’s limits, real and imagined, is to tread a super fine line between control and abandon. Defending race Champion, Canberra’s Matt Griggs started as favourite in the men’s field, and all appeared to be going well with his race: during one of Camille’s breaks, he actually came to within one lap of catching her, the closest anyone would ever be. At 24 hours, Matt had clocked 221 km, but 3 hours later, Matt drew the curtain on his race with 238.4 km – enough to take out the award for 1st Male Under 50, despite being off the track for 21 hours. Peter Murphy, who claims he has not set foot on a track since year 7, showed amazing grit and stamina to stare down the full 48 hours and claim 2nd MU50 with 212 km. James Quaife was next with a more than creditable distance of 188 km from nearly 25 hours on the track; while Steve Bingley found all he needed from the experience during his 70 km in 14 hours.
Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour Race
24 hours is the fundamental measure of time and span of our existence: one rotation of the earth upon its axis, affording every conceivable point of view upon the heavens. Indeed, the euphoria, crises, challenges and triumphs experienced in a 24 hour race, take the athlete on a comparable inner journey through every conceivable attitude to the Problem of Life and our place upon this troublesome little sphere spinning suspended in space.
With the AURA National 24 Hour Championships scheduled for just a few weeks after these 48 Hour Championships, understandably the field assembled here for 24 hours was smaller than usual – but 24 hours is 24 hours, a journey at once commanding absolute respect and calling forth extraordinary sacrifice and heroism.
Each runner-seeker-warrior who toed the line, brought something unique to the field – the field of contestants, field of vision and field of battle. And none disappointed.
When trophies were assembled and distributed, 6 of the top 10 placings were claimed by women. Remarkably, the entire Female Under 50 category – 6 brave women in all – bettered the magical 100 mile, or “Miler” standard. Leading the race outright for much of the race, the remarkable Maree Connor finished 1st woman with 212.6 km, ahead of Amanda Pavey’s 194.1 km and one of a new generation of Indian ultra runners, Priyanka Bhatt, who flew from India for this race, completing the podium placings with 185.5 km. Rachel Sykes took 1st prize in the Female 50-59, with 143.8 km completed.
Every ultra runner experiences troughs of energy and inspiration, moments of darkness or even despair when all appears lost and hopeless. Usually these occur later in a race; yet for Grant Brisbin from Woy Woy, his biggest “hole” came around the 7 hour mark, relatively early in the journey. Somehow with the encouragement of other runners and supporters, Grant managed not only to hang in there – he recovered to such an extent, he covered an amazing 225.1 km and won the race! 2nd place was taken by another Indian runner, the smiling, gliding Ullas Narayana, with 220.6 km, ahead of Troy Ruivenkamp, who ran strongly throughout for 173.4 km. Reid Meldrum also reached his goal of 100 miles with a finishing distance of 161.3 km.
Sri Chinmoy 12 Hour Race
The 12 hour race is one of the hardest to master: long enough to hurt badly, to need a careful nutrition and pacing plan; not long enough to incorporate sleep breaks as a legitimate racing strategy.
Today, Kevin Muller – one of Australia’s most reliably excellent ultra runners – presented a master class in how to tackle the 12 hour, treating the half-day timeframe with the respect it demands, while executing a bold race plan with confidence and resolve. In winning the race outright, Kevin established a sensational new M50 Australian record of 138.015 km.
Meanwhile, Sharon Pieterse won the women’s race also from the F50 category, in a sterling 92.518 km, ahead of Female Under 50’s winner Niboddhri Christie’s 90.518 km, and 2nd place F 50-59, Leah Weeden in 87.718 km; while Lib Smith claimed the F60-69 with 73.812 km.
Daragh O’Loughlin was fastest among the Male Under 50 with an impressive 124.618 km, from Stuart Wallace’s 110.072 km.
Sri Chinmoy 6 Hour Race
In the context of an all-weekend Festival featuring epic challenges of the magnitude of 48 hours, a mere 6 hour event may seem almost trifling. Yet it is a maxim of running, that a race of any distance can offer a supreme challenge, setting a stage to bring forth surprising qualities and capacities from within. Every distance invites us to give our all – and in that crucible, is forged life’s defining dramas.
And so it proved, that the Sri Chinmoy 6 Hour race produced one of the standout performances of the Festival. After a dazzling start from Dom Bullock, who almost lapped half the field after one time round the track, and sprang his way to 27 km before withdrawing from the fray; Baden Reynolds led the field and controlled the race to establish a new Australian M50 record of 79.461 km for 6 Hours – 3 km further than the previous benchmark. Baden absolutely poured himself into his race, inspiring all who followed in his footsteps and all who were privileged to watch him, from on and off the track.
An excellent duel ensued behind Baden for the Male Under 50 title, between Tom Allen, who eventually drew away with 71.865 km, and Ashley Colquhoun who presented with 71.236 km. John Nuttall showed his class to win the M70+ with 54.374 km, while David Von Senden completed 29.443 km to take out the M60-69 title.
As with the men, the women’s race was also won outright from the F50 category, with Canberra’s Kelly Bennett 1st overall with 54.185 km, though just ahead of 1st placed F60-69, Nikki Whelan’s 54.146 km. Sue Archer won her accustomed first placing in the F70+ category with 43.519 km completed.
Fastest among the Female Under 50s was Bei Hu with 50.541 km, ahead of a super tight finish, with just 53 metres between Gemma Worland (47.088 km) and Stacey Marsh (47.035 km).
Just as they had appeared in the afternoon with a surging of energy and enthusiasm, so, with a brief awards presentation and another shower of bonhomie and goodwill, the 6 hour runners merged into the night, the inside lanes reclaiming their aura of concentrated tranquil purpose and focus…
Sri Chinmoy Midnight Marathon
From the grandstand overlooking the athletics track, the Midnight Marathon was the only race of the Festival you could actually hear – with that associated thrill of the sound of shoes striking the track surface in rapid cadence. Commencing on the stroke of midnight, there is something madcap about launching headlong into the heart of the night.
Emmanuel Vergara was 1st home in 2:58:07, ahead of Luke Thompson’s 3:03:06. Next home was M50-59 winner, Andrew Leigh with 3:10:36. Women’s winner Lindsay Hamilton ran 3:36:57, with Amanda Jones (3:55:53) and Marnie Shaw (4:07:05) taking the podium placings. Debra Campbell won the F50-59 category with 4:52:18; and the amazing Ray James, the Male 70 and Over with 6:01:35.
2022 Mar 25thSri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, Canberra, Friday 25 – Sunday 27 March 2022
These silent-gliding clouds are unaware that for two days, a consortium of kindred souls had been steadfastly circling this curious, empty loop of blue below … The grass now beckoning the sun had huddled under a runner’s tent for 48 hours, patiently staying the course, waiting for an unseen clock to run its course, while runners of course ran their many courses on one, continuously continuing course … The same tall gums now swaying their same almost imperceptible sway, graciously beneficent yesterday as today’s forever today …
For 48 hours, this place, this track became a constantly moving, flowing and evolving town square, theatre, arena, temple, karmic courthouse and cosmic concert hall. Hearts, muscles, minds, legs, lungs, calculations, dreams, aspirations, love, hope, resolution, eagerness, longing – all are swept, exhorted, inspired, dashed and elevated into beaming smiles and throbbing tears, exuberant cries, silent prayers, slow-turning extinguishment, exultant victory.
The track – symbol and agent of Destiny astride its circularity, regularity and inevitability – gathers and commingles all into one; all life experiences, lessons, mistakes, discoveries, delusions and inspirations; all training wisdom and running lore; all dreams and aspirations; all hearts’ goodness, kindness, concern, compassion, shared pain and bliss, sorrows and joys. For 48 magical hours, we – runners, helpers, supporters and spectators – are more than community or family; we are humanity, we are the world, we are one. We strive each and together; ever humbled, we bumble and stumble; ever rising, we succeed and we fail; we try, cry and we fly. With each footfall, we go together, with each lap, we grow together and even now, beyond the track, in each treasured memory, we glow together.
Yes, there is hope for our sorry world. Beyond hope, there is promise. Here, now, circling our track, we have that hope: we are that promise.
Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Race – the AURA Australian National 48 Hour Championship
48 hours is a very long time to be doing just one thing: so says conventional thinking. 48 hours is the blink of an eye in the ever-unfolding story of life: so proved our actor-athlete-warrior-players, at once earnest students and learned professors of the eternal journey.
Volumes could be written, symphonies composed, hymns sung and epics narrated, portraying this or that detail from the various vast variegated tapestries woven and interwoven amongst hearts, minds and sinews around the track throughout these 48 circling, cycling droplets of time’s ocean.
Most stories will remain felt, lived, ingrained, yet untold. Some burn bright today, only to fade tomorrow; others barely felt now, will doubtless bloom and blossom surprisingly in months or years hence. What we can report here is a skeleton of facts and figures: that Canberra runners, in their home race, have established their city-playground as a preeminent home of ultra-track running (at least, for now!)
Canberrans emerged National Male and Female Champions: Allicia Heron with her phenomenal 329.392km taking the women’s main trophy (and a new Australian 48-Hour record for her W35 age group); while Matt Griggs’ extraordinary 380.863 claimed the premier men’s prize. Evergreen champion, Queensland’s Kevin Muller set the pace through much of the race, and though finishing 2nd overall after Matt, established a superb new Australian record of 370.822km for the highly competitive M50 category. Also running in the M50-59, Ingo Ernst was 3rd outright, finishing with 304km. The women’s podium placings were rounded out by the incredible Annabel Hepworth’s 290.335km for 2nd, and reliable Kris Ryan with 235.629km for 3rd. The ever-smiling Karen Bentley, from South Australia, claimed 1st in the female 60-69s with her 185.135km.
To all who remain unnamed in our report, we apologise: your contributions to this drama are integral to its glory, as fragrance to a flower. We shall lastly note that David Billett and Justin Scholz confirmed their multiple-Centurion (those who have walked over 100 miles in 24 hours) status; and were joined in this élite club by first-time Centurion, the dauntless Joffrid Mackett.
Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour Race
While the 48 Hour Race is unquestionably the centrepiece of the Festival, and holds the prestigious title of AURA National Championship, nevertheless some of the most outstanding performances of the weekend played out in the 24 Hour Race, screening in Lane 3.
Last year, only one runner – Matt Griggs – surpassed 200km in the 24 hour event. This year, that “1” leapt to 6, from a similar number of starters. It was a privilege for all to behold the extremely high standard, focus and application throughout the field, offering equally enthralling dramas unfolding in parallel between lanes 1 and 3, right up to Saturday lunchtime.
Especially riveting was the quality in the women’s race. Sunshine Coast star Chrissy Redwood led from the front throughout, running a disciplined and superbly crafted 206.908km to place 2nd outright. Chrissy also brought with her the best kitted-out and enthusiastic crew of “Team Redmond,” testimony that behind every great achievement there is invariably a ‘team’ of family and community expertise, sacrifice, encouragement and irrepressible goodwill. Though running her own race, the dogged determination of Cassie Cohen brought her within just 2km of Chrissy, yielding a superb 204.923km and 3rd outright by the finish.
Both women were surpassed in distance only by the indefatigably cheerful (or cheerfully indefatigable?) Thomas Allen, whose 216.052km was the standout performance among the men – in his wake, 3 more crossed the 200km barrier: Ashley Colquhoun (204.043km), Scott Connolly (202.805km) and Luke Thompson (200.733km). Paul Gay meanwhile took out the M50-59 category with 125.053km.
Sri Chinmoy 12-Hour Race
One of the wonderful characteristics of ultra track racing, is that everyone – from absolute beginner to the highest élite – runs, walks, dines and talks together, literally on the same track, passing and encountering each other time and time and time again. You’re sharing the journey with friends, comrades, competitive rivals, perhaps even (in another life) worst enemies. Every high and low is there on display, every emotion plays out on stage, every tactic is signalled, every step a public statement.
The field in the 12-hour race was a snapshot of the ultra running community – from some of Australia’s all-time best performers through to novices treading the track for their very first time. And they got to share the inside track – lane 1 – with the 48 hour runners, at the mid-point of their pilgrimage. Spanning most of the daylight hours and into the night – from 10am to 10pm, during which the 6-hour race came and went – the 12-hour offers more than just a taste; a substantial serving of ultra-running world-reality.
Tia Jones is in a class of her own, with a swag of National age group records to her credit. Today Tia displayed all her quality in winning the women’s race outright from her F50-59 category, AND claiming 2nd place overall with a formidable 110.801km. The only runner ahead of Tia was Manly Runners’ Joe Ward, the consummate professional whose calm demeanour somehow made the coverage of 126.623km look easy. Andrew Leigh was next MU50, running the longest run of his life in his ultra track debut to cover 106.988km, with Susan Marshall taking out the FU50 1st prize with her impressive 104.205km, ahead of Niboddhri Christie’s 2nd placing 101.317km.
Chloe Skewes-Weir lit up the track for the first 8 hours of the race as she flew in pursuit of a special goal. Her 50 mile time of around 8 hours and 12 minutes should soon be ratified as a new Australian National F20-24 age record for 50 miles. Pausing at her record and with mission accomplished, Chloe’s knee suggested it might be prudent to leave the track and return for more next time …
Other age category winners included Greg Ponych (M50-59) with 94.412km; Peter Badowski (M70 and Over) with 81.332km; and Michael Thompson (M60-69) with 77.157km.
Sri Chinmoy 6-Hour Race
The 6-hour race is the natural landing point for runners keen to extend themselves beyond the marathon, into the limitless realms of ultra distance track running. It’s far enough beyond most runners’ Sunday ‘long run’ to constitute genuine transcendence, yet not too far to pose an existential threat to body or mind. Slotting into what can easily become for the 48 hour runners, a Saturday afternoon ‘doze zone’, the race brings an added impetus to the circumambulating track community, an outer circle of focussed enthusiasm acting as a protective layer surrounding the sometimes-vulnerable focus and motivation of our 48 hour troupers.
While Tim Altamore and Ben Grimshaw set the early pace, it was the experience of M50-59 winner, Baden Reynolds. who bided his time and ran the most consistent pace to take line honours with an impressive 68.795km; Ben taking 2nd outright with 67.9km and Tim 3rd with 66.352km, ahead of 2nd in the M50-59, Gregory Jenkins’ 64.658km. Enthusiasm personified, Gemma Worland was 1st woman home in 49.423km, from Rosie Reynolds’ 48.286km. Lib Smith, meanwhile, took out the F60-69 category with her solid 41.199km.
The Sri Chinmoy Midnight Marathon
The smallest field assembled for the shortest race of the Festival. Whether seen as a novelty, a decent training run, or a chance to notch another certified marathon under the belt, the Sri Chinmoy Midnight Marathon holds a unique place in Australia’s running calendar.
Once considered the pinnacle achievement of long-distance running, in the context of this Festival, the 42.2km distance is a relative ‘sprint’, perhaps confirming something Einstein postulated about relativity. The Mongolian pair of Sarankhuu Jargal and Bayarkhuu Batbayar led the charge into the early hours, followed by Scotland’s Lindsay Hamilton setting the pace for the women’s field, bringing fresh energy and enthusiasm to the 48 hour runners on the inside lane. Bayarkhuu took line honours in 3:05:25, followed by friend and training partner, Sarankhuu in 3:11:01. Lindsay took 3rd outright with 3:35:04. Rick Patzold led home the M50-59 with 4:16:32; Ray James the M70 and Over with 6:12:15; and Lib Smith (having completed the 6 hour race a few hours earlier), the F60-69 in 6:37:58.
2021 Mar 26thSri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, AIS Athletics Track, Canberra, Friday 26 – Sunday 28 March 2021
Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track Festival, AIS Athletics Track, Canberra, Friday 26 – Sunday 28 March 202126 March
This report commences with an apology – to every runner who is not named herein, and to their personal helpers, family and supporters. Victory and triumph are achieved, experienced, recorded and appreciated in multiple dimensions and by numberless criteria – not just who ran the furthest or the fastest in which category or race. We chronicle only what is measurable by our wheels and timepieces: the glory and worth of all that is felt, perceived, given, striven for, offered, sacrificed and surrendered with such wholehearted commitment with each footfall of each hero-runner along the way, can only be appreciated in the inner annals of human aspiration and super-human dedication – and treasured in the heart-depths of those who truly care.
Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Race, AURA Australian National 48 Hour Championship
The 48 Hour race stands a proud summit: either as a beacon calling the brave to the ascent, or as a looming peril to be avoided by the wise in favour of flatter, familiar terrain. Among the brave souls assembled for this inaugural Sri Chinmoy 48 Hour Track race in Australia, half were tackling this mountain for the first time. While not all were atop the peak to scan the view when the final horn sounded, all certainly reached sublime heights along the way, establishing secure basecamps for future ascents.
While the 6 female entrants might have represented only 25% of the contestants, yet they occupied 3 of the top 6 placings at the finish. Outstanding performance of the Festival surely goes to Cheryl Symons, whose 322.352 hard-earned kilometres to win the Female 50-59 category placed her 1st woman, and 3rd outright amongst a stellar field. Whoever did not know Cheryl before this event, will never forget her absolute concentration, maintained throughout with grace, strength and equanimity in the face of every obstacle. The ever-cheerful Niki Wynd also topped the 300 peak, winning the Female Under 50 category with 304.906km, from Kris Ryan who completed 208.436 km. Rounding out the F50-59s, the indefatigable Saranyu Pearson clocked 141.988 km, while Cassie Smith walked her way serenely to 95.95 km.
Canberra local Paul Mahoney won the M50-59 category with a suburb personal best of 252.448 km, showing his year of training and focus since the 2020 race was cancelled, has been put to very good use indeed. Stepping up from the 24 hours to 48 hours for the first time, after participating in a record 33 Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour races since the early 1980s, Anyce Melham plumbed and offered all the depths and beauty of his heart as though composing a love poem, in winning his M60-69 category with a wonderful debut 256.155. John Timms ranged from the depths of losing almost all energy and inspiration, to the heights of frenetic sprint laps, in taking out the M70+ with 149.021.
In the men’s field (under 50), the race on paper looked to be between proven 24 hour stalwarts, Ewan Horsburgh, Stephen Redfern (both NSW) and Matthew Eckford (Qld). Racing for 48 hours for the first time, Ewan and Stephen each brought their “A-games”, while Matthew also won many admirers for the way he continued with utmost intensity despite setbacks along the way. While all bring their distinct personalities and consciousness to the field of any game, gathering or event, nevertheless in a race of this scale, the attitude and demeanour of the leaders plays a formative role in everyone’s ultimate experience, offering inspiration and aspiration not through words but the force of their sheer presence, deeds and actions. In olden times, any self-respecting King would ride at the head of his troops into battle, so it was only appropriate that the President of AURA should lead from the front. The current AURA President, Ewan Horsburgh ran in a seemingly monk-like bubble, a picture of focus, form and energy-efficiency as the remainder of the field dutifully, and admiringly followed while he tallied a wonderful 48 hour debut of 346.546 km. Stephen Redfern was both an admiring follower of Ewan, and exemplary leader to the rest of us through his nobility, consistency and loyalty to his purpose – and beautiful running form, bringing home another superb 48 hour debut 326.441 km. More familiar with 24 hour and 100 mile racing, Matt Eckford tallied 275.738 km for a PB over the 48 hours, extending his inner resources of courage and perseverance to establish a powerful base for future expeditions in these rarefied, high-altitude realms.
Once again, our apologies, deep respect and gratitude to all the unnamed participants who, like the unmarked graves of the anonymous fallen soldiers without whom no military victory could ever have been carried, complete and enrich this compelling human epic of aching bodies, yearning hearts and soaring souls.
Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour Race
24 hours is a complete rotation of our massive planet; the sum total of every conceivable arrangement of the hands of the clock; the gamut of our physical, emotional and mental perspectives on the passing of hours, minutes and seconds; a choc-full calendar diary page; multiple life-spans of numerous smaller life-forms; an entire season of “24”.
If 24 hours is the standard-bearer of Time, so is running the simplest, purest expression of humanity’s aspiration and progress. So is the 24 Hour Race a perfect metaphor and distillation of the soul’s journey in and through time and space.
While the 48 Hour race claimed lanes 1 and 2, the 24 Hour race offered an equally compelling revelation and inexorably blossoming drama as counterpoint in the adjacent lanes 3 and 4, albeit a story told in a complementary dialect, rhythm and metre. Witnessing both races unfold alongside each other was akin to reading “War and Peace” and “Great Expectations”, or Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and Goethe’s “Faust” simultaneously; or listening to Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” and the “Goldberg Variations” at once; or taking trips to Mars and the Moon at the same time – each perfect, complete, utterly engaging and fulfilling in its own terms.
For observers, one of the absorbing dimensions of an Ultra is the pacing and tactics of the runners, as each strives toward their personal goals, while taking in stride the inevitable setbacks along the way. Those who lead in the early hours, quite often do not find a place on the podium, though they can be winners in the great school of learning and experience.
Matt Griggs ran the ideal race, the arrow of his aspiration shooting a perfect arc across the span of a full day to land him in the hallowed realm he had so fervently sought – “240+”. While Matt’s winning distance of 244.087 km was streets ahead of the field in the final analysis, yet he was powered forward by many others, providing a slingshot to his efforts – including those like Thomas Allen and Michael Brennan whose own early speed had to bow before the laws of physics and blisters. Special mention also to Ashley Colquhoun (187.77 km, 2nd place); Stephen Kiley (174.598 for 3rd) and Stuart Wallace (171.104, 4th place); and to Aaron Francey whose 162.048 km earned him 1st place in the Male 50-59 category.
Kathryn Austin won the women’s race with her sterling 169.223 km, ahead of a controlled and inspired run from Niboddhri Christie of 151.636. It was also heartening to observe and admire Kree Wright accompany her good friend Kim Falco (1st F50-59) the entire way to clock identical milestones of 100.358 km.
Sri Chinmoy 12 Hour Race
Because the 12 Hour race was the only event sharing lanes 1 and 2 with the 48 Hour runners, the field was limited and hence only 14 starters toed the line; yet what this race lacked in numbers, it more than made up for in quality and performance!
Bernadette Benson was the early shooting star, aiming for stellar records over the 6 hour, 50 mile and 100 km distances, though hampered by badly bruised ribs suffered in a fall only days before the race. Once Bernadette withdrew after 82 km – claiming a new Canadian W50 6 hour record (yet to be ratified) – the contest came into clear focus between 3 strong and steadfast warriors of the track, with a slender 4 laps separating them at the close of their journey from late morning to late night: Joe Ward emerging triumphant with an impressive 125.754 km, just edging out Adam Keighran’s 125.085 for 2nd place, while the dauntless Tia Jones took 3rd outright from the Female 50-59 category, to claim a swag of National W55 records en route, including for 6 hours, 50 miles, 100 km and 12 hours (all to be ratified).
Vice Hazdovic took out the Female Under 50 prime award with 102.72 km; and Lib Smith the F60-69 with 76.474; while Kieron Blackmore was the lone yet glorious representative of the M60-69 brigade, clocking an impressive 92.16 km.
Sri Chinmoy 6 Hour Race
It’s not often in an open running event that the top 3 places outright are taken by females! (and 6 of the top 9 placings…) The largest field of the Festival assembled at the respectable hour of 2pm Saturday for a race into the evening. From early on, it was clear that the men in the field would have their work cut out for them to match the pace, style and stamina of the leading women, especially after the withdrawal of David Reis and Justin Hiatt from the contest: and what a race it turned out to be!
Chloe Skewes-Weir ran a phenomenal race to claim a new Australian National W20 age group record (to be ratified) of 63.097 km, to place 3rd overall. Ahead of Chloe there unfolded an Herculean tussle between the front runners with Simone Hayes ultimately triumphing with 66.613 km, ahead of 2nd placed Cassie Cohen’s 66.419 km – the difference at the finish a mere sliver of 194 metres. Cassie's consolation was a new Australian W25-29 6 hour record (to be ratified). Our thanks to these wonderful runners for staging such an engrossing drama, which kept the spectators and the 48 hour participants on the edge of our seats till the ultimate lap.
Kelly Bennett took out the Female 50-59 category with 51.773 km; while Anne Skewes was first among the F60-69 with 39.984. Gregory Jenkins took out the M50-59 with 53.617.
Sri Chinmoy Midnight Marathon
To most of the world, The Marathon embodies the pinnacle of running endeavour and achievement. In a twist of context, on this weekend of super-human performance, the marathon is the ‘baby’ of races on offer. Starting at midnight on Saturday night, after all the intensity and flurry of the 24 hour, 12 hour and 6 hour races all having concluded on this busiest of days, and the night’s calm and inward quiet has fully descended on the arena, with only the 48 hour warriors still performing their circular devotions on the inside track, 14 fresh faces and eager hearts lined up to commence a new adventure, a sprint over the relative fun-run of a mere 42.2km. Unlike every other race of the Festival, this one had a finishing point defined not by the clock but by an ageless distance, and the faster one reached that goal, the sooner to bed!
Sarankhuu Jargal, having helped for most of the weekend trackside and infused with the energy and inspiration of the occasion, sped out to lead the field home in 2:58:00, breaking 3 hours for the first time. Following were Phillip Aerts (3:22:53) who rode his bike to and from the race, and Oliver Carey (3:29:45). Rick Patzold took the main honours in the Male 50-59 with his umpteenth marathon in 3:52:49; while the only 2 females in the field excelled in their respective age categories: the amazing Susan Archer proclaimed that she felt ‘a bit of a fraud’ running ‘only’ a marathon in the company of such incredible ultra athletes, before taking the Female 70 and Over prize in 4:51:41; while the superlative Jane Sturzaker chalked up Marathon number 302 (having completed the Sri Chinmoy Marathon in Melbourne last Sunday) to take the Female 60-69 in 5:39:51.
Our sincere gratitude to all participants across all races of the Festival and to their helpers, supporters, families and well-wishers; to the staff of the Australian Institute of Sport; to AURA (the Australian Ultra Runners Association) for honouring this event with the title of 48 Hour National Championship, as well as promotional and in person support; to Martin Fryer of Flyer Ultra timing services; to Rebekah Stamatis and her team for medical support; to Jon Schol, Steven Hanley and John Harding; to "My Rainbow-Dreams" café for catering; and to members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Mongolia, the UK, New Zealand, the USA, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra.
2019 Jun 15thSri Chinmoy "24 Hours on Track", Campbelltown Sports Stadium Athletics Track, Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 June 2019
Sri Chinmoy "24 Hours on Track", Campbelltown Sports Stadium Athletics Track, Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 June 201915 June
Why and how does the sight of a bunch of runners circling around a track bring such a surge of joy? The venue is unremarkable – a suburban athletics track; the runners mostly “ordinary” people – no Olympic champions, Oscar winners or rock stars here. Countless times we’ve seen folks running around tracks and not felt this inexplicable thrill, so it’s source can’t be just the outer activity; it has to be the inner reality, the combined aspiration, daring, sacrifice, willpower and quest for transcendence radiating from the hearts, infusing the minds and powering the limbs of each runner-dreamer-warrior-hero before our eyes. We recognise our own better selves, our own yearning for something higher and vaster, the battle against our own self-doubts and fears, the drama of our own lives’ journeys; we feel the quiver of our own souls.
An ultra track race presents a unique concentration, a distillation of single-minded focus, resolution and shared purpose, a revelation, affirmation and celebration of just a glimpse of the infinitude of spiritual power within us all.
It is rare indeed that every single entrant in a 24 hour race toes the start line – customarily there are a few “no-shows” on the day for one reason or another. So for all 41 entrants to assemble trackside for the 9am start was in itself an auspicious augury for a memorable edventure.
A 24 Hour race invariably unfolds in ways no one could have anticipated. The faces assembled at the start line mask a myriad mysteries about to unravel – some surprising, some disappointing, some perplexing, some exhilarating. The faces assembled at the awards ceremony reveal the unravelled threads of searching, struggling, crying, smiling and flying which together comprise the complex tapestry of this rich and rewarding epic.
Donna Urquhart (212.4km) and Daragh O’Loughlin (221.2 km) were both humble and popular winners of the women’s and men’s race respectively. Each remained steadfast, sturdy and strong throughout the long day and night to triumph and surpass their personal goals. Donna also took 3rd outright across the entire field, after an impressive 1st time Campbelltown runner Hoong Wei Wong from Singapore, with 216.8km. The steady and solid Stuart Hughes came in next with 210.4km, followed by 2nd female Simone Hayes with a fantastic sustained performance netting her 198.4km.
Sabina Hamaty took our the Female 50-59 category with her calm and controlled 162 km; Soonchul Shin was outstanding to take out the Male 50-59 with a wonderful 186.8km; while the Elder Statesman of this event, Anyce “Kip” Melham completed his 32nd Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour Race (variously held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Campbelltown) to win the Male 60-69 category with a hard-fought and glorious 166km. Rod Rainey was best among the Male 70 and Over with 101.6km.
Much of the attention in the front half of the event was on the remarkable Bernadette Benson who ran a stellar race, closing her account after 100 miles in 14:22:30, claiming numerous Open and F50 Canadian and Australian records up to and including 100 miles (full details to be verified and published).
The 12 Hour race boasted perhaps the fastest (though the smallest) field, with “gun” runner Phil Balnave setting the early pace from the 9pm starting bell. It was defending 24-Hour 2-time champion Stephen Redfern who outlasted the best however, maintaining his trademark bouncy lope through a testing night to record a PB of 131.875 km, from John Pearson’s 125.24km and Wayne Calvert with 110.311km. Aaron Francey ran the furthest of the Male 50-59 with 104.09km, and Jonh Nuttall took the Male 60-69 with 61.376km. The only entrant in the Female Under 50, Margie Raymond, completed her marathon in 5 and a half hours.
The 6 Hour race field was next to join the 24 Hour runners on Saturday morning, one hour into proceedings, and added energy and enthusiasm to the track in lane 3 and 4. By 4pm, it was James Chen who had covered the furthest with an impressive 65.954km to take out the Male Under 50, with next home Masanori Chiba in fine form to also take out the Male 50-59 with 64.754km. Kerrie Bremner ran perhaps the standout performance of the event with her wonderful 63.109 winning her the Female 50-59 category (and females outright) as well as taking 4th overall. Bob Marden won the Male 60-69 with 50.65km; Jiyoung Lee took out the Female Under 50 category with 37.233km; while the amazing Margrit Smith, who will turn 85 in 2 days time, gave masterclass to all in focus, calm and determination.
One hour later, at 11am the Marathon brought 24 additional friendly faces to the party in lane 3. With no cut-off time and a relatively straightforward course to follow, a diverse group of marathon newbies, veterans, stalwarts, hares and tortoises variously jogged, galloped and shuffled through the better part of the afternoon. Oliver Carey was the fastest to finish in 3:17:11, from Male 50-59 winner and 2nd outright Eunsu Park in 3:25:48. Jenny Brownlie took out the women’s main award with 3:58:40; Paul Andersson the Male 60-69s with 5:55:37; Jo Andersson the Female 70 and Over trophy in 6:05:41; and the famous David Attrill outlasted them all to take the Male 70 and Over award with a remarkable 8:38:16.
Immense gratitude to Penny Redfern whose cheerful, heartfelt service kept our volunteers in good spirits all day and night; to Billy Pearce, our indefatigable medic who served tirelessly throughout the 24 hours; to the kind staff of Campbelltown Council who take such good care of this wonderful venue; and to volunteers of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.
About the Organisers
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team
Serving the athletic community for over 40 years...
Team Founder Sri Chinmoy
A lifelong advocate of fitness and self-transcendence...