Finish Line Cafe organizer Bhakati MacRae holds fresh strawberries

A transcendent meal at the triathlon finish line

Sri Chimnoy volunteer has created buffet since 1979

Hand picked berries, freshly baked muffins and steaming hot pancakes make the Self Transcendence Triathlon and Duathlon post-race meal one of the best around.

“We believe it’s the best post-race meal of all the big races in town,” said Sumitra McMurchy. The former race director is still heavily involved in making the race happen.

This year it’s set for Sunday, Aug. 5 at Elk Lake, the race’s 34th year.

“We’ve been told for years the food is so good. Every year we get emails telling us people will be back because of it.”

Strawberries and pancakes aren’t the half of it. About 400 athletes fill their bellies each year, and that takes a menu’s worth of community effort.

The race draws on dozens of volunteers, six of them just to put together the Finish Line Cafe’s buffet.

Fresh berries are donated and delivered from Dan’s Farm. Level Ground gives them coffee. Mount Royal Bagels supply fresh bagels. For Good Measure, Lifestyle Markets and Demitasse Bakery supply the rest, from the ingredients for muesli and pancakes to maple syrup, the real stuff.

“Mother nature is the chef, I’m just the organizer,” says Bhakati MacRae.

Since 1979, MacRae has headed the Self Transcendence’s buffet, which consisted of little more than fresh muffins back then.

“I used to drive them down in my car. Then in the ‘90s we added pancakes and things got serious.”

MacRae is a student of Sri Chinmoy, the legendary meditationist and extreme athlete who inspired this race and others like it around the world. She’s never participated in either the duathlon (run, bike and run) or triathlon (swim, bike and run) races she’s volunteered at.

“I don’t need to. I see what the food turns into, people accomplishing so much. I’m just here to promote a healthy lifestyle with whole foods.”

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