Silkinas remains the world's best long distance runner

  • 2000-04-13
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Lithuanian Petras Silkinas, 59, finished a 1,000-mile run as world champion for the second time at the end of March. On April 7 Silkinas returned to Lithuania from Australia were the world championship was held.

The run started on March 15. Silkinas finished the distance in 13 days, 5 hours, 36 minutes and 20 seconds.

"Eight runners took part in the competition. His competitors were representatives of Germany, Australia, Mexico and Italy. Silkinas was taking breaks of four hours per day -just for sleeping and eating," said Dainius Kepenis, Silkinas'coach.

Kepenis is also the director of the Palanga Health School that teaches jogging meditation, winter bathing in the sea, vegetarian nutrition, gymnastics and self-massage.

"I met Silkinas several months before the previous world championship 1,000-mile run two years ago, held also in Australia, where in 1998 Silkinas became the world champion for the first time. I advised him to stop eating meat. He started to eat less and less meat and stopped eating meat altogether one year ago. Now he feels much stronger because of it," Kepenis said.

In Australia, Silkinas' favorite food was fried potatoes with garlic. He spoke just 10 minutes by phone with his wife, living in Kretinga in western Lithuania. He spoke as he was running. His backbone was not straight anymore at the end of 13 days' circling in the stadium.

Kepenis said that Silkinas' age has no effect on long distance running results.

"Physical strength is not the most important thing in such long-distance running. The main thing is spiritual strength. Silkinas is turning to a kind of meditation during his running. His body moves automatically. Strategy is also important. One cannot reach the finish if the pace is too fast," Kepenis said.

Silkinas runs from 50 to 75 kilometers a day, every day, to preserve his good physical condition. Silkinas said that he has good rest only when he is running. Silkinas runs, while his wife, son and daughter go by car, from Kretinga to their relatives in another town.

Silkinas works in road construction. His colleagues go to work by bus. Silkinas runs there on foot.

This fall Silkinas will start his great run to greet the 21st century. He plans to run 16,000 kilometers across Europe in 10 months, passing through 43 European capitals. He plans to finish this conquest of Europe on August 6, 2001 -his 60th birthday.