The marathon monks of Japan are a group of Buddhists who push the limits of human endurance in search of a higher plane of spirituality. The ritual followed by these monks is almost beyond belief:
1st year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2-mile marathons, beginning at 1:30 a.m., each day after an hour of prayer
2nd year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons
3rd year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons
4th year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons – performed twice
5th year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons – performed twice
On the 700th day, the monks undergo a 9 day fast without food, water, rest or sleep – a mind-boggling feat which would result in certain death for most human beings, before having a short rest of a few weeks and increasing their gruelling schedule
6th year: 100 consecutive days of 37.5 mile marathons
7th year: 100 days of 52.2 mile marathons and 100 days of 26.2 mile marathons.
Throughout the night they run and pray, stopping at different stations along the way to recite prayers and perform ritual chants. Upon completion of each day’s marathon, the monks perform chores such as cleaning the temple and they continue to pray throughout the day, until retiring at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. The ritual begins again a few hours later. If at any time the monk finds himself physically or mentally unable to complete the 100-day ritual, he is duty-bound to commit suicide by hanging himself with the belt from his robe or through ritual disembowelment.
And you thought the London Marathon was difficult!