A 44-year-old Japanese monk named Genshin Fujinami has just completed what probably is the most grueling race in history: a 7-year 24,800 mile (~40,000 km) journey - an equivalent of a trip around the world!
Since 1885, only 46 other so-called "marathon monks" of the Tendai sect have survived the ritual, which dates to the 8th century and is believed to be a path to enlightenment, according to temple officials. The last monk to complete it returned in 1994.
A few have done it twice; many more have not lived to finish. Traditionally, any monk, or gyoja, who can't continue to the end must take his own live, either by hanging or disembowelment.
A rigorous regimen dictates that in each of the journey's first three years, the pilgrim must rise at midnight for 100 consecutive days to pray, run along an 18-mile trail around Mount Hiei — stopping 250 times to pray along the way. He can carry only candles, a prayer book and a sack of vegetarian food. [...]
His most difficult trial, however, comes during the fifth year when he must sit and chant mantras for nine days without food, water or sleep, in a trial called "doiri," or "entering the temple."
In the sixth year, he walks 37.5 miles every day for 100 days. And in the seventh, he goes 52.5 miles for 100 days and then 18 miles for another 100 days, before returning to the temple, located in Otsu city, about 234 miles southwest of Tokyo.
From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by .