Late one night a few days ago as William was taking the short walk back to the house that he shares with Ray K, he probably enjoyed for at least a brief moment that sweet realization that he had just set his first record here at the race.
It is a feeling he is going to have the opportunity to enjoy many more times as the race progresses. As a 60 year old male ultra runner he is currently actively engaged in the process of essentially rewriting just about all the ultra distance records that exist, not just in Scotland, not just in the UK, but also in the World.
But perhaps what is even more marvelous is that many of the records that William Sichel from Sanday Orkney is establishing here in Queens NY, are ones that he is creating for the very first time.
“I have got all the data with me, all the sheets, all the information. But I have literally no time to look at it. All I am doing is collecting the times for every 500 km and every 500 miles. I have official sheets to chart the times. So I am handing them over to the race referee at the appropriate moment. Then stuffing them in my bag and forgetting about them.”
If there is anything on his mind most days it is simply trying to make sure he runs 110 laps of the course. (At the start of Day 12 he has 1219 laps)
“As you know, last night I only got to the magic 110 laps at 5 minutes to 12. After the race I will sort it all out. The most important thing is to collect the data and preserve it. Which I do by photographing the sheets.”
“There is no doubt that from now on I will be starting to set a lot of records.”
Last night William completed 10 days on the course and in that time he has 668 miles. But the almost incomprehensible greater picture of what he still has yet to do he does not really look at. “My main motivation is the 110 laps every day, that is the magic mark. That is a pretty big incentive every day.”
If one were to design the ultimate body for a life time of distance running the creator could probably not have come up with a better or more efficient design, for economy of motion, reliable and durable parts, and an engine and drive train. That when William gets going in a race he doesn’t really like to stop for anything.”
After the great wad of record sheets are pulled out of Williams plastic binder after the race are all scrutinized and analyzed and examined from top to bottom William could be adding something like 70 more records to the 95 records he currently already has.
As for retirement that is simply not part of his plans. For the 60 year old William Sichel has every intention of continuing to push on out into the uncharted realms of ultra running.
My soul and I always dare
To travel the uncharted land
Of impossible dreams.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 10, Agni Press, 1998
On June 26th 1985 Sri Chinmoy at age 54 first started his weight lifting by raising a 40 lb dumbbell over his head. By November 18 of that year he had increased the weight to 155 lbs.
The 110 laps is the magic number for every runner here. Accumulate extra laps if you can early on and then never fall behind if you can. On this board from Nidhruvi back are behind the mark. She has 1205 laps but to be on pace she would need 1210. Most likely she will get the laps back.
The board is updated this morning
Pranjal taking care of his feet.
Sopan arrives on his bike
Sarah sorting out her shoes.
Boys waking up
Jayasalini putting in her inserts
William getting himself a drink
Start Day Twelve
The high temperatures have yet to arrive but thundershowers crossed the area last night and it will remain humid all day.
Sarvagata continues to be astonishing.
Yesterday he did 129 laps or 70 miles. He has 761 which is 57 more than last year.
Sarvadhara perhaps holding a virtual umbrella over his head to protect him from the very real sun.
There is no mistaking his intensity.
The morning fluctuates between sun and cloud.
Ray of course stands out from the rest of the crowd.
He drove to the course this morning and announces that it took 38 seconds. He tells me that if he walks it takes him 3 minutes and 26 seconds, or something very close.
It is the last day of school so soon the sidewalks will be jammed.
During a cloudy moment Ananda-Lahari.
Teekshanam is very happy today.
Up until today the flag beside his name had been Swiss. I am not sure why that happened but today Sahishnu gave him a proper Moldovan flag. Teekshanam is happy, his Mother and sister will be happy, and Moldovans everywhere should also be happy.
Teekshanam is doing well. He did 104 laps yesterday and has 658 miles.
Moldovans everywhere should be singing his praises.
Once again Nidhruvi is the center of attention. Well yes the sidewalks are packed with kids leaving school for summer, but it is also Nidhruvi’s birthday.
I ask her if it is just another day or is it special.
“I guess for my soul it is special. Last night I had such a tough evening. I was more desperate than anything else. So many things came together. I had a good day and good miles (110).”
But all her struggles with heat rash, the burning, the feet, the body, the swollen knee, the endless things that appear. “There is nothing you can but watch and see how hard it is. So actually I had a really tough night. The last few hours were just so painful. To tell the truth I was just crying.”
As for today. “I was very weak in the morning. Last night when I got home was the first night that I felt that I have no more energy. I was so finished.”
But of course here she is again on the course for day 12. “I guess my soul is flying. I guess I have to start to feel it.”
Click to Play Interview:
She wanted to thank one of her sponsors.
Then there was a brief stop of a birthday cake and mini party.
Yuri is in 2nd place and continuing to run well. He has 734 miles or 17 more than last year
His is a face you can spot in a crowd now.
He ran 123 laps yesterday
Stutisheel also ran 123 laps yesterday. A very fine number. He has 712 miles.
This morning he read the daily prayer.
Click to Play:
You can’t miss him.
He can find his way around.
He says that yesterday was the first one with extreme humidity,”90% maybe more. So it was pretty tough.”
He says it looks most of the time to people outside the race that the runners are exposed so much to people. But he says, “most of the time you are in your own world. Sometimes I just don’t see other people or look around.”
“You have to find your own ways. Your own happy place, where you can block out all the disturbing stuff. Pain, tiredness and all the outer things. Sometimes I forget where I am.
The rain that came after midnight has yet to burn off in cool places on the course.
Sarah apparently does not need crowd control.
Running very very well she did 114 laps yesterday and seem to be stronger and faster at night. Enjoying a moment with Ray K
Some legs not too hard to recognize.
Baladev had a hard day yesterday. He did 91 laps.
He is still 36 miles ahead of last year.
Always the hard and the soft together.
Vasu has picked some of the special leaves to treat his blisters.
He is trying his very best. He did 98 laps yesterday and has 688 miles.
The small and delicate.
Meet the cute and the counter.
Sopan having a ball.
He and Stutisheel performed a soccer themed skit. Mario provided the shirts and ball.
But then he gets down to the business of taking care of feet.
Yesterday he says he had a tough day.
“Slower in the morning which pressured me a little in the early afternoon… 57 laps to 3pm compared to 59 yesterday. For some reason my stomach got very messed up after 3 pm… I made a bad mistake but this made me learn the hard way…”
“All afternoon my stomach was swollen followed by low energy due to not absorbing food and worse not absorbing enough water in hot and humid weather after all this my energy was very low in the evening and I felt very dehydrated and stomach was still a little upset to the very end. This was a big lesson to learn. A miracle to finish the day with 60 miles!”
Sopan has 689 miles. Exactly the mileage he had last year.
2 Dogs better than one.
A dog’s perspective of the course.
She is once again moving well.
Enjoying some laps with Kanala. I am told she performed a magic trick for the Enthusiasm-Awakeners.
Getting a drink and some help in camp.
she had 111 laps yesterday. She has 677 miles
His friend Saun has been keeping William’s blog up while he is away. The other day he spoke about a heat wave, but to be honest that kind of real miserable weather has really yet to arrive. A heat wave is successive days of 90 F weather which will most definitely come soon enough.
It is however very humid and it has a powerful effect on William as well as all the runners. “I have never felt that before. It just means that every step feels more tiring. Even when the temperature is cool.”
“I admit I haven’t got the pacing right, because I am having to work too hard at the end of the day, to make the 110 laps. At the moment I am not doing quite enough in the morning. I am becoming a slow starter. It is taking me a long time to get going. So if I get to mid day and I haven’t got 40 laps, I know it is going to be a sprint finish at night.”
This is of course a brand new kind of race for William. Usually he runs in non stop races where there is no break. The correct formula yet to be worked out, “I have to admit I am still not there. I am getting close. I am just nipping under the 60 miles a day.”
“I feel in theory I could be doing 64, 63, 65 miles a day. But I am not ready to do that yet. I am not organized enough.”
The idea of actually producing more miles as the race progresses seems incredible. But William is constantly adapting and adjusting.
“I would say that I am stabilizing with the work load required. I certainly haven’t experienced a decline. Otherwise my mileage would have gone down. It is very encouraging from that point of view. I feel that mentally and physically I am still responding to the challenge.”
The longest he has ever run is 1000 miles in 13 days and 20 hours. A distance that is quickly approaching. “Very shortly we will be in to completely new territory, time wise and distance wise. I am not worried about it. My legs are not going to drop off. It will be quite interesting, moving off into new areas.”
He says that once he passes 1000 miles (2010 in Greece), “That will be interesting. Than I will know that I am in a new area, a new space, a new place. I am looking forward to it.”
When he ran there he says it was also very hot during the day, but because it was continuous he could take his break during the hottest part of the day and then run through the night.
He is enjoying the camaraderie that has gradually developed between himself and all the other runners. “We are all in it together.” He is also impressed with just how much help he is getting from others who are helping. “People are willing. When I ask for something they will do something for me and help me out. Even the local residents are beginning to nod to us occasionally.”
“It is hard work really. The main thing that has happened to me has been my low point which was day 10. When for some reason everything got to me. The heat, the humidity, the dirt, the noise. It just got to me, I had a real stinker, if you like. I started doubting my abilities.
Then I had a really good day yesterday (11), psychologically as well. And that has continued today. I suppose it is all par to the ups and downs of the race.”
Click to Play Interview:
Click to Play:
In you journeys
To an uncharted horizon.
Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: The Master-Key Of The Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990