Mongolian runner and mountaineer B.Budjargal won the 22nd Annual Sri Chinmoy Six and Ten-day Races, which took place from April 17 to 27 in New York City.
He covered a distance of 1,189 km in 240 hours. A.Budjargal has been training as a runner for 20 years, and is considered one of Mongolia’s best athletes.
The following is an interview with B.Budjargal.
Congratulations on winning the Sri Chinmoy Ten-day Race. You came in 4th place last year. You set a goal to earn a medal this year. How confident were you?
Actually I didn’t think about winning a medal or topping my previous success, I just wanted to claim a victory. I promised myself that I would conquer the race, even if I lost consciousness and had to be taken to a hospital. I participated in this race for the fourth time. That’s why my experience was greater than the other runners.
I almost won a medal last year and placed 4th. I regretted that so much. I think this year, I harvested what I had planted. When they saw me, some foreign athletes said, “Oh, he is shorter and thinner than us.” I wasn’t disappointed by that at all, and said to myself, “I will show you Mongolian perserverance and patience.” A total of 86 athletes from 14 countries competed in the 10-day race. There were renowned runners among them.
You arrived at the finish line wearing armor and raising the state flag of Mongolia. Did you prepare those in advance?
Yes, I did. I changed my clothes before finishing the race. I was proud of myself and of being born in Mongolia. The audience and participants respected me and called me a “Warrior of Chinggis Khaan”.
It is very hard to race for 10 days. How did you manage to sleep and race?
I planned to sleep two hours a day because I wanted to win. I was eating healthy food while I was running. On day 1, I ran 172 km. Other athletes slept three hours a day. That was an advantage for me.
This race takes place every April in New York, and the weather in New York is unpredictable in April. This year’s April was rainy and stormy.
What do the organizers of the race require from participants?
Not everyone can participate in this race because it is so risky. The organizers see an athlete’s achievements and how many kilometers they can run per day. An athlete who runs 80 km a day can participate in the race. All the athletes who finish the race are winners, because this race requires a lot of patience from athletes.
It has been five days since the race concluded. Have you recovered from the exhaustion?
My body is experiencing muscle soreness. I am so tired. I couldn’t even get out of bed for four days. Now I am getting better.
At first you were training for regular marathons. How did you end up choosing ultra marathons and competing in six and 10-day races?
I fell in love with athletics when I was a child. Teacher Tuvshinbayar taught me the first steps of this sport. In 1998, I competed in a 10 km race and won a bronze medal. I like to test myself with difficult things. That’s why I chose ultra marathons in 2008.
What are you planning to do next? Do you have another big tournament, like the Sri Chinmoy Six and Ten-day Races?
There are almost no other tournaments like this. This tournament is the most famous and most difficult. I am planning to challenge the world record for 10-day races. The current record is 1,441 km. I have extra resources to challenge that record.
Do you have any sponsors or supporters? When will you return?
I don’t have any sponsors yet. The state has given me nothing. I haven’t take a penny from the state. The Mongolian state doesn’t value my success. Sometimes I am disappointed.
I will return to Mongolia on June 5. I am planning to treat myself in the USA. I also have work to do here.