Day 5 and Asprihanal lead the mileage for the first time with 71.8 miles. Unusual for the champion Finn, he is taking a while to warm up. He has won the event more than anybody.

Ashprihanal can’t weigh much more than 50 kilograms. He is very otherworldly, almost elf-like, with small chiselled features, light blonde hair and a running engine that rarely falters. His style and gait are more like a dance. He flays his arms all over the place and rocks from side to side, the floating waltz steps somehow graceful and hypnotic. He is fleet-footed and runs silently, saving energy and wear on his shoes. He is world-class and took up ultra-running after hiking the Appalachian Trail, which extends between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The Trail is approximately 2,178 miles (3,505 km) long. A year later he hiked the 2650 mile Pacific Crest trail (4260 km) from Death Valley to Canada, covering 60 kilometres a day for twelve weeks. According to Ashprihanal, he “almost got lime disease from a tick and was always on the lookout for rogue bears.” Hiking these long trails, walking with a heavy backpack he had an epiphany that he would probably be okay at ultra-running. ‘If I could do that carrying a loaded pack,’ he thought, ‘then I could probably run a long way carrying nothing.’

Ashprihanal doesn’t officially train for the 3100. With no postman motorbikes in Finland his mail delivery job is perfect training for building fitness. While racing he often jokes in his strange Finnish accent and recounts his unusual childhood keynote stories hunting frogs.

He’s run the heaviest calendar possible in the ultra world, multiple times. This involved completing a six-day race in April, the 3100 mile race from June to August and a 700 mile (1126km) race in September. With the 700 mile race no longer existent on the ultra-running calendar I doubt anyone will ever repeat the trilogy. Once when someone approached Sri Chinmoy with the concern Ashprihanal’s health may suffer because he was running too many miles, Sri Chinmoy replied: “For Ashprihanal, running is as easy as drinking water.” More about him in a later post!

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.