Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018 Inspiring People of the Year Sopan Tzekov

It Took Him 12 Years and 5 Unsuccessful Attempts at the 
3100 Mile Race

This year I was able to complete the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 3rd time. I run 3100 miles for 51 days, 16 hours, 46 min or just under 60 miles per day. This race is the world’s longest certified ultra marathon and has a strict cut-off time of 52 days. It is considered one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges and called “the Mount Everest of ultra marathons” by the New York Times.

About the race. Founded by Indian meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy  who is also my Guru the race is inspired by his philosophy of “Self-Transcendence” or as Sri Chinmoy says “We are all truly unlimited if we only dare to try and have faith” he also says “If we live in the heart there is no such thing as impossibility”.
The race starts every morning at 6 am and ends at midnight for 52 consecutive days. The race course is .54-mile loop and to complete the distance the runners have to run more then 5600 times around a concrete surface block in Queens, New York in the middle of summer with temperatures often over 90 and 100 F. 

My story. This year was special in my 17-year long multi day running career because I was able to complete the 3100 mile race for the first time in 12 years and after 5 unsuccessful attempts.

I have had many experiences during these years most of them physically painful and full of struggle but always fulfilled with profoundly rewarding inner experiences. To me the multi day running and especially the 3100 mile race are all about the inner experience of meditation and self-discovery. To me running is a form of meditation and a way to get in touch with something deeper, most fulfilling and joyful, something that helps me discover who I truly am and I feel that this process of self-discovery is a very intimate and precious experience.

I am still considering my most physically challenging race, the 2014 3100 mile race, running 2,268 miles, including 40 days of very slow walking with hip/sciatic injury and multiple off-race course doctor visits, the race with the best inner experience!

I feel that the physical challenge is essential in bringing to the fore the best within us, the spirit of Self-Transcendence that we are capable of much more then we can imagine. This inner spirit inspires me to keep running forward and never give up.

So after years of physical struggle and inner self-discovery, this year I came to the 3100 mile race with no expectation, I was just happy be there and be part of this unique race one more time. My previous experience had given me a completely new, fresh and very positive attitude toward the race, I had more peace of mind. I feel that the most important thing for this race is to learn to establish your own peace of mind and be as much as possible harmonious with yourself.

Almost everything that I did this year in preparation for the race and during the race was completely different then previous years.

For example:
I trained for a whole year with zero drop running shoes including 6 months of using a minimal zero drop shoe as an every day walking shoe which lead to improving my running stile, balance and strength;

I used compression during the race, during the day but more importantly full compression tights every night. To give you an idea how effective sleeping with compression tights proved to be, I didn’t need massage even once for 3100 miles! I never had sore legs in the morning or during the day!
I used 2 extra insoles inside my shoes to counter the hard concrete surface;
I walked maybe 25% of the race which helped tremendously for rebalancing and loosening hip stress;
I was supplementing a lot of Sulfur 3 months before the race and a lot more during the race which I think was essential with decreasing muscle soreness, increasing energy levels, detoxifying and strengthening connecting tissues;

Last but not least for the first time during the race I would do daily supporting exercises that help with hip balance, core and upper body strength. After weeks of running 60 miles per day, 18 hours a day on concrete surface the upper body and core muscles becomes weaker, it only makes sense to exercise them during the race sometimes even on lap to lap bases. As a result I visited a chiropractor at the race only 2 times during the first 10 days. It was amazing to see how simple daily exercises can completely replace the need of chiropractor!

I dedicate my race to Sri Chinmoy with gratitude for his blessings and inspiration!

-Sopan Tzekov

Bulgarian national champion record holder for all races—10 days and all distances from 700 miles, 1,000 miles, 1,300 miles all the way up to 3,100 miles and 5,000 km. He continues to hold the record as the youngest person in the world to run 3,100 miles in 51 days at the age of 24. At the age of 22, he was also the youngest person in the world to run 700 miles in 12 days.

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