TODAY | August 11, 2011
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: Well, a group of runners in New York recently took that saying to the extreme.
NATALIE MORALES, anchor: That's right . It sounds pretty crazy, actually. It's been called the Mount Everest of marathons. The official name, though, is the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race . And its participants have truly unimaginable strength of body and mind. It is intense. It's grueling. And at 3,100 miles, it's a race like no other.
Mr. ASPRIHANAL AALTO: It's like a force. It's like determination.
MORALES: On a course that's just one city block in Queens , New York , a group of 10 runners have embarked on a seemingly impossible feat.
Unidentified Woman #1: It's just amazing.
MORALES: From 6 AM to midnight every day, they go round and round and around, 5,649 laps over 52 consecutive days. This is -- this is a spiritual thing for you.
Mr. AALTO: Yeah. Absolutely.
MORALES: To put this into perspective, it's like doing two and a half marathons a day for each runner.
Unidentified Man: Our top runners are averaging 71, 72, 73 miles a day.
MORALES: By the time the race is over, they will have run the distance from Boston all the way to San Francisco .
Unidentified Woman #2: It's very inspiring.
MORALES: In rain or shine, all day, every day, they battle heat, humidity, pedestrians, bugs, dust and fumes, lap after lap. Do you ever feel like a hamster on a wheel?
Mr. AALTO: Yeah. It feels life is one big circle.
MORALES: So why would anyone actually do this?
Mr. AALTO: This is kind of my meditation. It seems to soothe me.
MORALES: Asprihanal Aalto , who's from Finland , has won the race seven times. What's on your play list? What keeps you going?
Mr. AALTO: I listen to a lot -- to ABBA.
MORALES: ABBA. On this seven-week journey, each runner consumes about 10,000 calories a day and goes through about a dozen pair of sneakers. The race is the brainchild of Sri Chinmoy , a Bengali spiritual leader who believed running symbolized the search for inner peace of self-transcendence.
Unidentified Woman #3: This is the halfway point.
MORALES: The 10 runners hail from various nations around the world. The race's sole female runner is from Austria . It's mind over body every step of the way. Quite a lead. And for the runners , the volunteers and spectators alike, it's not just about a race to the end, it's about a journey.
Man: When you see the runners across the finish line, words can't express the look on their faces. It's really priceless.
MORALES: And the 3100 mile race finished up a few weeks ago with the winner, Sarvagata Ukrainskyi completing his 3100 miles in 44 days. Asprihanal Aalto , the runner that you saw in that piece, came in third place. Truly an incredible feat for all of those runners .
ROKER: That's just amazing.
MORALES: It's unbelievable to think what they put their bodies through. Not to mention up here.
ROKER: Real, real...
GUTHRIE: And to do all that running on almost no sleep.
GUTHRIE: Because they run from -- until midnight, right?
MORALES: Till 12, to midnight. And then they start at 6 AM the next morning.
ROKER: It's something.
MORALES: It's pretty rigorous.
ROKER: Some kind of determination.
GUTHRIE: That's amazing.