Competitors tackle the sidewalk course—a monotonous loop around a local high school and playground—from 6 a.m. to midnight each day, stopping only for short rest breaks.
At night, they retreat to nearby apartments to sleep four or five hours and then get back on the course.
In addition to extreme fatigue, runners face sweltering summer temperatures, shin pain, gastrointestinal problems and chronic blisters.
The constant pounding is so hard on their feet, runners typically go through 10 to 12 pairs of shoes during the event, Szczesiul says.
Some runners even cut out the toe portion of their shoes to make room for their swelling feet.
From pizza to papayas, the runners scarf down every kind of food imaginable throughout the event, consuming a whopping 7,000 calories a day.
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organizes the 3,100 Mile Race, which was founded in 1997 by spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, who died in 2007.
Chinmoy's followers view ultra-distance running as a way to connect with their spirit and tap into extraordinary mental and physical strength. Since the 1980s, the running team has organized numerous multi-day races in Queens, starting with a 1,000-mile run in a local park in 1985. The race was the first of its kind in the western hemisphere, according to the group.
In 1996, five runners completed the Sri Chinmoy 2,700 Mile Race. The following year, Chinmoy announced the race distance would jump to a staggering 3,100 miles.
Ashprihanal Aalto, an ultrarunner from Finland, is the event's fastest finisher. In 2015, he reached 3,100 miles in 40 days and 9 hours, averaging a stunning 77 miles a day.
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