The world’s longest and craziest Italian marathon runner wins, covering nearly 5,000 kilometers in a month and a half around one block of New York buildings
Race around… a block in 42 days: The Italian marathon runner won the world’s longest and craziest walking event on Sunday, covering nearly 5,000 kilometers in a month and a half around one block of New York buildings.
“It was really monotonous!” Andrea Mercato said as she crossed the finish line on Sunday, October 17 in the evening, holding the Italian flag, to the cheers of the crowd, after she walked 5,649 times around a school complex in Queens, North New York So we traveled 3,100 miles or 4,888 kilometres.
With a lap of 883 metres, an average of 116 kilometers per day – that’s more than two marathons – the incredible athlete, a nearly 39-year-old Superman, has been running and walking for 42 days, 17 hours and 38 minutes. Every day from 6 am to midnight.
The remaining six hours, Andrea Marcato and her six competitors – a New Zealander, a Taiwanese, a Japanese, a Russian, a Ukrainian and a Slovakian – spent sleeping, healing, eating, washing and responding to natural needs, in building huts installed in the street during the ordeal.
The race, which was completely insane but internationally accepted, is supposed to run for another eight days, barely disrupting New York’s auto traffic, not to mention the dealers, residents and about 2,000 high school students in this famous corner of Queens called Jamaica.
“Like every day”
To break the routine and gray of urban jungle, concrete sidewalks, and black high school gates, the seven runners run one day clockwise, and the next day counterclockwise. “The first week, it was very difficult, especially for the mind,” admits Andrea Marcato. “And then you end up getting used to it and accepting that it will be the same every day.”
Whether it’s rainy or windy or the heat and humidity of sweltering New York, it has been spinning like clockwork since September 5 nearly 5,700 times around Thomas Edison Technical High School. Dubbed the 1997 “Sri Chinmoy Self-Overflow Race”, the event was created by Indian teacher-turned-New Yorker, Sri Chinmoy, who died in 2007. It advocated a combination of extreme sports, self-transcendence and meditation.
“Don’t think of anything”
Physically, the organizers only accept marathon runners who have previously participated in races of the same type for at least six days. On the mental side, “With a focused mind, think of nothing else, neither fear, nor anxiety, nor doubt,” emphasizes Andrea Marcato. “It’s a test of endurance, effort, determination and talent,” summarizes race director Sahichno Schizol, very proud to note that if the world’s 4,000 mountaineers can climb Everest, only 49 supersportspeople have completed the 3,100-mile race.
For New Zealander Harita Davis, the only woman in this 25th edition, the race is clearly horrific physically, but it is “an amazing thing, as the days and weeks go by, the body adapts and strengthens”. At 47, she is working to “become a better being”. She listens to music, audio narrations, and meditation lessons. Harita Davies is expected to complete the distance before the October 26 deadline.
Other New Yorkers, denied the show in 2020 due to a pandemic that has brought the city to its knees, sometimes barely understand what’s going on: “I live here but I didn’t know it was a race. I always thought they were just running,” laughs Julio Quezada. .
And what does winner Andrea Marcato gain after losing thousands of calories a day and 16 pairs of shoes? Cup but no money, he reassured the organizers. “It is the absolute, my dream and I have realized it,” rejoices the Italian, an employee of an agricultural trading company. But Harita Davis warns that the hard part begins: “Back to normal.”
“Organizer. Social media geek. General communicator. Bacon scholar. Proud pop culture trailblazer.”