Day 1 2013. Photos by Abakash

The runners started their ultra, ultra, ultra marathon journey on Sunday, with plenty of rain I believe- which I dislike immensely but I will talk about some other time. Sarah Barnett is the first female Australian to ever compete.

Vasu Duzhiy has taken an early lead with 79 then 70 miles. He hails from Russia and works near the border of Siberia, cutting wood. He is super friendly with a handshake that crushes your bones.
Three things I recall about the friendly Russian from 2012. I once came around a corner to see him in the distance lying on the ground. I was worried and about to call medical, then I got closer, he was busting out stomach crunches 1000km into a race to warm up! Another time he was pacing with another competitor who got annoyed and told him to take a break. The cooks (who prepare food 1.5 miles away) heard a quiet knock at the door, he'd walked there and back to get some food. I guess he did 3103 miles that year.
Finally, all the runners know the course as sacred ground but sometimes on the hard cement, under the hot sun with tired legs you feel otherwise. Vasu was interviewed by a reporter on a day we were all dying from the humidity. "This place to me is paradise," he was quoted as saying. He is one tough, motivated runner.

Based in Australia, Grahak Cunningham is a motivational speaker and business speaker and four time finisher and 2012 winner of the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race, which is the world’s longest ultra-marathon.