Even Lebow worries that Sri Chinmoy may be "overexposing" ultramarathons. "The six-day run had a history; people could identify with it," he says. "But the 1,000-mile run went beyond comprehension for most. And then he did the 1,300-mile run. The race lasted almost three weeks and generated no attention. He's in danger of taking something that was unique and charismatic and making it commonplace."
Stan Wagon, editor of Ultrarunning, agrees. "I hate it when he changes the six-day race to a five-day race, or invents a 1,300-mile race so he can hold the longest race ever run," he says. "The events have attracted surprisingly good runners because they're so well handled, but they still boil down to whims of the boss."
The thing is that the guru believes in nothing so fervently as his "whims." "I am at God's behest," he says. "I listen to the dictates of my inner being, and whatever He asks, I try to do with devoted oneness. This is why I do ultradistance." It's also why he doesn't care if sponsors stay away; their financial concerns might only interfere with the intimate atmosphere and precision of his races. And as for making ultras commonplace, that's precisely his point—to show that the common man can regularly accomplish the impossible.
As long as runners want to run, says Sri Chinmoy, he expects to keep putting on ultras. "God does not like anything good to disappear from creation," he says. "So He will not let ultradistance running disappear. If He sees that I am not doing well, He can choose another instrument to carry out His will."