In light of a recent article posted on the AUA site concerning Marcy Schwam's induction into the ultarunning hall of fame, here is a little more information about that race as published in the Febuary 2005 edition of Multiday Running magazine.
The First 24 Hour Race
Before I begin this story, I wish to say, that when I tell these stories during races I have no sense of time sequence, something just triggers them off. So you may notice that I go back and forth in time. I hope this is not too confusing, anyway here is the story for the first 24-hour race, and by that I mean the first one organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, not the first one ever.
The same two runners that told us about the 100-mile race, Jackie Stack and Marcy Schwam, also told us some time later that they had planned to run in the Glassboro 24-hour race. Marcy at that time was one of the top women ultra runners in the US, and she planned to make an attempt at the 100-mile record, she had been training for it for some time. The Glassboro 24-hour race however had just been cancelled so Marcy was very disappointed. The story of the cancelled race was told to Sri Chinmoy and he said that we should try to find a track on which to hold a 24-hour race, but that we should not tell Jackie and Marcy what we were planning. We started a search and after just a couple of days we found a track in Greenwich, Connecticut just behind the city administration building. It was in disrepair but we could use it if we wanted. I remember going to see it early one evening and it was set in a beautiful hollow and seemed quite secluded, and although we were told that it was a ¼ mile track it had a strange shape It was in fact a large triangle with rounded corners. All the same we decided it was perfect for our needs, and when we told Sri Chinmoy he approved. Next we had to tell Jackie and Marcy; they lived in the neighbourhood and often ate dinner at Annam Brahma. When we told them they didn't seem totally surprised but were very happy.
All the arrangements for the race were made, and it was believed that for any possible record to be legal there needed to 3 runners male and female in the race. We didn't have a problem finding 3 women but we could only find 2 men at such short notice. We needed one more volunteer. A young Japanese boy who was visiting said he would have a go, his name was Yasu, he had never run more than 10 miles before and only had one $10 pair of running shoes.
So on a beautiful fall day in Connecticut we held the first Sri Chinmoy 24- hour race. Marcy went out quite strongly and achieved a new American women's 100-mile record. The evening turned out to be cold so once she had the record she decided to stop. Along with a few other runners Yasu continued on through the night eventually amassing a total of 111 miles in his first ever ultra race, it was enough to win the race and also establish a Japanese 24-hour record, and of course create the legend of the young ultramarathon sensation from Japan. The Marathon Team had now entered into the international arena of 24-hour racing.