Ancient cities had their stadia, where citizens flocked to witness great dramas of the human condition – epic tragedies of Sophocles, lavish intrigues of Seneca, masterful eloquence of Shakespeare – for entertainment, edification and ultimately, for transformation.
Today our stadium is but a simple 400 metre loop of synthetic compound; our protagonists humble runners and walkers: yet our drama is every bit as gripping, as moving, as universal, elevating and yes, as transforming as any offered on any stage of yore.
Here the drama unfolds largely within: the outer quest to pile up loop after loop after loop, mirrors the inner quest to transcend. The outer prize may be a trophy and a pat on the back: the inner prize a glimmer of self-discovery, a further finger-hold on the baffling rockface of self-conquest.
2015 saw the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour, 12 hour and 6 hour races staged for the first time at Campbelltown Sports Stadium Athletics Centre track. With all amenities of a world-class facility, yet removed from the turbulence and tension of the inner city, the atmosphere at Campbelltown amongst athletes, organisers and facility staff was friendly, supportive and happy throughout. We look forward to returning next year and beyond.
In an event which is more about inner reward than outer accomplishment, it is not always meaningful to focus on distances and comparisons – for one who may have covered only a slight distance may yet have resolved all manner of inner conflicts along the way and achieved a sense of blissful liberation as a result.
Yet one performance commands our attention, admiration and amazement: Bryan McCorkindale from Christchurch, New Zealand broke the World Record for Men 60 and Over for 12 Hours. Bryan, the defending champion from last year’s 24 hour race had entered the 24 hour event again with the intention of having a shot at the 12 hour and 100 mile records and then seeing what might be left for the remaining time. As it happened, he was on good pace for the 12 hour record but had to dig very deep to stay on pace during the final few hours. His determination and focus were extraordinary and swept the entire environs and spectators into an all-consuming effort of will to reach and breach that goal: first the track record of 129.525 km set by our own Cliffie Young in Sydney in 1982; and next the all-time 12 hour record of 132.167 km by the legendary Frenchman Max Courtillon at Moreuil in 1988 … Bryan’s outer calm belied an indomitable power that felt like a volcano burning on a measured fuse. All else was blocked out of the awareness as we witnessed the stupendous effort required to transcend the best that 60+ humankind has yet achieved. In the end, there were only 400 metres in it – a mere one of those laps after laps after laps – as 12 hours yielded 132.565km and a new World Record for Bryan and, it felt, for us all.
Bryan, we salute you, a true champion among champions.