An Interview with Manoshri Sykorova, who is running the 10 day race, her first multi day event.
Like Manoshri, George Biondic is also running his first 10 day race, and by coincidence they both are from Canada. George however is 62 years old. He has nearly 30 years on her and was probably competing before she was born. He is a well seasoned and very experienced ultra runner. Yet like all great adventurers he, like all the remarkable athletes who will call this one mile loop home for the next 10 days, is keen in reaching out for new experiences. Even one as challenging as running for 10 days.
He jokes as he tells me that his warranty is expiring on his body. “My knees are evidence. My ankles are evidence. Things that once upon a time, like a little sprain would be gone. Now a week……2 weeks. It just takes a lot longer for my body to recover.
I throw back the obvious question to George after he says this…… so why would you do something like this?
“My neighbors said it…..George you are obsessed. At first it kind of hurt a little bit. But you know what….. They are kind of right.”
“Running is something that is so deeply ingrained in my psyche, at the same time it brings me such joy. It makes me feel young. Once you get past 60 you don’t want to get older. The highest point in my year is a race like this. Everything else disappears, and I am young and I am flying.”
I ask George about his race last year when he ran the 6 day for the first time. He sighs at this and says with more than a little disappointment…..”I think it was 371.”
I remind him that some would be pretty pleased at doing more than 60 miles a day. “The thing is I had higher goals…..laughs”
This is followed by his confession that he was attempting to break an existing Canadian age record. 443 Miles Neither he nor his wife are quite sure of the runners name who still holds that record. George believes it was set more than 15 years ago. “I grabbed his 3 day record and I have his 2 day record.”
When asked what the Canadian 10 day record for his age George tells me, with just the right touch of confidence….”The new one will be 565.” He adds, that it is not a prediction, “I am here to enjoy life.”
“I am old enough to know that you don’t make predictions in these things. At least a dozen things can go really off.” George is meticulous in his calculations he adds…..for example, “one percent off in my sodium and the record is gone.” He reiterates again….”there are no predictions. You have to enjoy it.”
Just as was the case last year George has the same support crew this time, his wife Erlinda.
“I am used to crewing him over the years. So I have seen him in his highs and his lows. In fact I encouraged him to come back this year.” I ask her what could she have possibly enjoyed about being here last year when it was particularly cold and rainy. She says she was comfortable nonetheless sleeping in the back of their car. “I didn’t have to suffer the cold and the wet.”
“This is a new territory for us. So we will see how it goes.” Erlinda says that when she first met George he was just a marathon runner. Eventually he got hooked on ultras. She feels the excitement of being part of the race in her own way. She describes how it gives her a sense of achievement. “If he is happy, I am happy.”
Looking back at George as she says this I cannot help but tell him that he looks pretty happy. “I AM HAPPY!!! Maybe by day 6 and 7 the complexion is going to change.”
When asked what his strategy will be he is adamant. “You are talking to somebody who has been doing this for 35 years. There is no cushion here. We have a schedule and we are going to stick with it. It is 10 days. It is not where you are in day 2,3, or 5, it is where you are at the end of day 10. That is how we look at it.”
George has had some great success in his years as a competitive athlete. “The greatest moment in my running, was not when I was running. It was when I was crewing for Erlinda’s first race ever. After watching me for 30 years.” He then describes how his wife last year decided to run a 3 day race for the first time with very little training. She was first for her age and set 9 Canadian records and 2 world records.
She is going to go back next month in a new age category and work on setting even more records, he proudly says. “That was the greatest moment. When she did that I was the crew. That was the best for me.”
Click to Play Interview:
With the start just 24 hours away the camp is starting to look nearly finished.
The board is now waiting for the numbers to go up beside the names.
But like everything that is part and parcel of the village no detail is too small or insignificant not to be touched up.
Many 10 day runners are still putting up their tents.
Each runner sets up their table just the way they like it.
Marking out you table is an important thing.
Lots of little details yet to be done.
The kitchen will have to be working by tomorrow.
No such thing as too clean.
Uddipan making sure that the camp cook’s tent is made perfect.
Manoshri will have both her Mom and her sister here at the race.
The early runners can pick and choose their tables.
Daulot has done the race so knows how important it is to get things done perfectly.
It is in so many ways one it is one big family that inhabits this small patch of New York city park each Spring.
If I could start my life
I would every day become
A new morning rose
In the garden of the universe.