July 22: Friendship

It was probably the best race he ever ran.  It was also his very first attempt to run for 24 hours.  It was being held  on a track in London by a group who were doing something brand new as well for them.  It was a first for lots of people in a way.

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It took place in October of 1993 and probably should have attracted a larger field, but another more established event in Spain seemed to get the cream of the crop.  None of this mattered to Alan Young. Living in Scotland he wanted to test himself to his limits to see what he could do as an ultra distance runner.

So Alan came to the inaugural Sri Chinmoy marathon team 24 race in Tooting Bec and won.  He didn’t use tactics, he didn’t use guile, he ran as hard as he could until there was no more time left.  His distance of 138 miles was the furthest he had ever run and getting this little trophy wasn’t bad either.  The next man was 2 miles behind and as Alan talks about this race now nearly 21 years ago his eyes twinkle with delight.

But at some point over the years he came to realize, “I wasn’t particularly good.  But I got an insight.”  He came to realize that maybe from the sidelines he could actually achieve more than he ever could on the track.  Not that he completely gave up his own dreams, but winning the 24 hour race in Tooting Bec was just about as good as it got.

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Being crew for a runner has to be one of the most thankless jobs on earth.  There are no trophies or records for the man holding out the cup and rubbing sore backs and legs.  Keeping track of laps and supplements, and running off for heavy cream is not a job that pays well if at all.

Something very much else happens that says more about how far a friend will go for another, what oneness and a hearts bond really means, and can you realize and become one with another’s triumph. Even when they hold up the trophy up and you carry a towel.

I have joked many times with Alan about his job and just how good he is at it.  I have seen lots of helpers at these races over the years and he really may be the best at what he does.   He has crewed for Alan for 10 years now.  You can see Alan adjusting, shifting, and recaclutaing just what he needs to do from morning until night.  He has been here 8 days now and his job is not yet done, not by a long shot.  He has probably 15 more days of this routine yet in front of him.

william-alan

In the beginning he wasn’t sure he was going to be any good at it.  William was a fast marathon runner who wanted to move up and so 10 years ago asked Alan to help.  The first three 24 hour races were a disaster.  Basically William blew up after 18 hours and that was that.  Somehow they worked and fiddled and fine tuned and well, you can see where Alan is now. What they learned more than anything was simply slowing everything down and being more patient.

William jokes when I ask him whether he wants to send Alan back to Scotland.  “O he is all right.  It took a few days for him to bend in.  But I will keep him now.  We’ll get on, we will manage.”

I ask William,  that without the help he has gotten from not only Alan, but also Tim and Tarit what would have happened to him here.  “That is the one mistake I made before the race.  I thought I could crew myself at the beginning and still manage it.  Preparing the food was something I just couldn’t possibly manage and do all the running.  High marks for Alan.  I don’t want him to get too big headed.  He is doing alright for the moment.  We will have to keep on him, to keep him up to the mark.”

Alan says that by late tonight, after many many days of being off the needed pace, he will once again be back on schedule to finish the race in time.

Ron Clarke was one of the greatest distance runners of all time.  In his career he accomplished 17 world records but somehow failed at the Olympics to win a gold medal.  The achievement, that for most athletes stands at the very pinnacle of their competitive life.  Having more significance than any record or title.

Fate however would not deny him this honor.

In March of 1976 Ron Clarke would meet with Sri Chinmoy for the first time. He composed the song below at that time.

From 2004 to 2012 he was the mayor of the Gold Coast in Australia.  He once said, “I agree very much with Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of promoting friendship through running and sports,”

Ron Clareke

Ron Clarke, Ron Clarke, Ron Clarke, Ron Clarke!
O runner-world’s pinnacle-spark,
Australia’s pure treasure-light,
The world salutes your champion-height.
In distance-speed a stupendous soul.
With seventeen crowns, yours is the goal.

Run and Become, Become and Run    [song #35]

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July 21: Champions All

If this picture were to stand alone by itself I have no idea what the caption would read to accompany it.  For a photographer to see 3 smiling runners coming up the course towards you is a golden opportunity.  But as a fan of the race, there is a significance to this particular moment for me that just a couple of words cannot express.

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It may be my age, my gender, and my own background as a runner but I am truly inspired by this scene as it played out in front of me this morning.

Just in my lifetime women could not run the Boston Marathon or was there any long races for them in the Olympic games.  For 13 years this race saw just one exceptional woman running in it, and now there are 3 remarkable female athletes. Who between them, as of 36 days of running, have completed 6542 miles.

In the great roulette that is the race there are moments, when despite whatever speed you are running you will most certainly have every runner in the race on your shoulder at least for a moment.  If you are running at about the same speed it might not happen very often at all, or it could go on for laps and laps.

Or in this case the 3 girls, at least for this stretch have lined up perfectly. At the same time they are celebrating what they are doing, who they are, and most definitely what this experience is enabling each to become within. It was their choice at this moment to truly share the road and the fellowship of the race, and maybe by noticing that there was a camera in front of them, share it with the world.

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The truth about the statistics is that these 3 girls are not that far apart when it comes to mileage and as of this morning out of the 14 runners they are in 6th, 7th, and 8th place.  What I enjoyed about seeing them run like this was just how happy they all are.

If there is any secret to success to achieving your best here in this the most difficult sporting event in the world then being happy has to be one of the simplest remedies.  Not just to ease the hard times but also to ensure that each step takes you that much closer to the higher goal beyond.  Where self transcendence is not reached by tears and pain alone but by the precious gift of a true heart’s cry and a soul’s divine smile.

One of the pioneers of Women’s sports was Fanny Blankers-Koen.  A Dutch runner who despite being 30 years old and a mother as well, wanted to compete in the Olympic games in London in 1948.  It was in 1938 that she set her first world record, with a time of 11 seconds in the 100 meters.  Because of the war she thus missed 2 opportunities to compete in the Olympics.   So her wish to compete in 1948 was a dream come true.

Of her excellence in competition and how it inspired so many, she once said: “But times were harsh and people were glad of the opportunity to celebrate anything. It made me proud to know I have been able to bring joy into peoples lives.”

Sri-Chinmoy-Alisson-Roe

Allison Roe, Allison!
O lightning wonder-speed,
O soaring energy-light!
You are your dauntless soul.
In you, a fount of delight.
New York sings Auckland’s Victory-Song.
O champion of champions,
New Zealand’s thunder-gong!
[Allison Roe of New Zealand was the 1981 winner of the Boston and New York City Marathons. In the NYC Marathon, she set a new world record of 2:25:29.]

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July 20: Something New To Achieve or Become

“I had a lot of fun yesterday.  I wish all my days could be like that.  It wasn’t a struggle at all.  The whole day there was no problem with anything.”

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Most days the runners struggle just to make their usual laps.  Pace and push themselves throughout the 18 hours they have on the course to get just a little bit closer to the 3100 miles.  After 35 days it is rare for there to be any surprises other than the kind no runner likes to receive.  The bad kind, injuries, sickness, and fatigue.

But yesterday, in what had to be at least a bit of surprise to Sarvagata, he ran more laps in a single day than he had ever done in all of  the 4 years he has been competing on the course.   He completed 148 laps, which equals 80.68 miles.

When you do something like he did yesterday it is not an obvious thing at all. It is not something that springs up dramatically.  At least not at first.  It is a long slow process that not even the counters would have been aware of until quite late at night.  It is than that his clipboard was obviously getting unusually full.

At some point through the day his fellow runners can probably sense that something great is happening, but most of the time they have to just focus on picking up their feet and putting them down again.  Not on Sarvagata who was in the process of doing something quite remarkable.

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If there is anything about his marvelous performance yesterday, that will soon become a foot note, to the overall greatness of his overall performance this year.  Is that what happened yesterday is a reminder to him, to his fellow runners, and to us, who are trying to make sense of it all.  That great things can come happen to all of us as well.

If I had asked him directly how he thought that it was even possible, he probably have answered that it was all due to grace.  That is just my word for it, but knowing him and his devotion to the race I am probably not too far wrong at best.  But to receive that 148 laps meant that he had to dedicate himself so powerfully and with so much oneness and receptivity with what he had to do, that it was only then that it could even have been possible.

Across the street from the race is Jamaica High school.  Back in the 1960′s a young man who had a troubled background was trying to get some direction in his life.  The track coach at the time, Larry Ellis saw in a young Bob Beamon a gifted athlete.  He suggested that if he worked hard he just might one day make the US Olympic team in the long jump.

Bob-Beamon-mainIn 1962 at age 15 he won the junior Olympics with a distance of 24 ft 1 inch.  He said, “It proved to me that I might come through with something worthwhile in my life.” By 1968 the time of the Mexico Olympics he was certainly one of the best jumpers in the world.  But in qualifying for the final in Mexico, he nearly didn’t make it.  It was only on his last jump in the qualifying round that he managed to make the distance.

Many things have been said about the finals that took place on October 18th.  How the wind was perfect, how the altitude aided records, and that all the conditions in the stadium indicated that the 22 year old Queens NY jumper could somehow surpass his personal best of 27ft 4in.   And maybe just maybe break the then current world mark of 27 ft 6 in.

Before he took off down the runway, “I felt alone. I could not feel my legs under me I was floating.” Once he took flight he did not come down to earth again until 29 feet 2 and 3/8th inches later.  An incredible new world record by 21 and 3/4inches.

Immediately after his jump there is great confusion by the pit.  Bob Beamon had no idea at first how well he had done. The optical measuring equipment was incapable of measuring the leap and it took many minutes before it was officially measured and recorded.  When he found out what he had done he fell to the ground in shock.  Even as you watch it today it is still unbelievable.  It took 34 years for it to finally be broken by American Mike Powell.  It is still the all time Olympic record.

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Bob Beamon would say later, “It was an incredible surprise. As a matter of fact we never thought the record would pass 27ft 10 or 8.4m but I like surprises.”

bob beamonThe Eternal Newness of Life

There is no end to our realization; there is no end to our manifestation. There is always something new to achieve or become.

Those who do not live the life of the heart are like broken records. They keep playing the same ignorance-tune over and over.

But if we are seekers, every day we have to make a new record, sing a new song, discover a new melody. Those in my boat who are consciously aspiring are singing a new song every day.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Divine Secrets, Agni Press, 1987

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July 19: Simplicity Of Running

In British distance running there are 2 names that stand out above all the rest.  Don Ritchie and Steve Jones each set records that have lasted for more than 30 years.  In some ways there was a similarity about their approach to the sport, even though the distances they each competed at were at the other ends of the spectrum.

They both liked to run from the front, and simply run as fast as they could for as long as was possible.  For spectators it was a delight but sometimes for fellow competitors it was even better.  Let the man at the front do all the hard work and then slip across the finish line just in front.

In 1984 when Steve Jones was about to complete his first marathon in Chicago he was surprised to learn about 2 miles from the finish that he was on a world record pace.  Something he had no idea of at the time since he didn’t wear a watch.  In his inaugural marathon he broke the world record  by 13 seconds in 2:08:05.  The following year he returned once more to Chicago and set the new British mark of 2:07:13.  A time that has yet to be surpassed since it was set October 20 1985.

“I run with my head, my heart and my guts, because physically, I don’t think I’ve got a great deal of talent or ability. I started at the bottom and worked up.”…Steve Jones

I spoke with Williams helper Alan this morning and we were talking about attitude and confidence, what qualities it takes to be best in the world.  In races like the one in the video you clearly see that at the moment Steve Jones was passed he could have surrendered.  Backed off half a step and nobody would have known the difference.  But the kind of man and runner that he was, that choice simply wasn’t possible for him to make.

William told Alan that for the first month of the race he wasn’t feeling very good.  Alan laughs at not only the absurdity of feeling not your best for such a long time but also that his runner has at last found his pace and rhythm.  Who over the past few days is now excelling and reaching a whole new performance level.

william-2000

Photo by Sarvadhara

Last night William completed his 2000th mile.  Before he headed home he added an additional 5 more miles.  Alan would call it, in his understated fashion, “A very good and well judged day.”

He has still a very long way to go.  But on his 34th day on the road here in Queens he ran 124 laps which is 68 miles.  The total for this 60 year old runner from Sanday Orkney was only bested by one other runner that day, Stutisheel.  Who is 16 years younger and is running this race for his 10th time, not his first like William.

In the weeks and months to come statisticians will be click clacking their pens and calculators to make it all add up just so.  For a new river of records has seriously begun to flow from the heart, and feet, and very fiber of the best super ultra runner in Britain, and we will know soon enough in time, the world as well.

New York City Marathon director Fred Lebow said this:

“The simplicity of running is the heart and soul of the sport. The ordinary, everyday runners are the mainstream. I can never forget this because I am one of them, regardless of what else I am.”

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Simplicity
Is the most
Striking
And
Challenging
Speed
When we run along the road
Of Eternity’s
Fulfilling
Achievement-light.

Sri Chinmoy, Union And Oneness, Agni Press, 1976

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July 18: Impossible Until It’s Done

He spent 27 years of his life in prison. It was such a harsh place that he was allowed to receive only one visitor per year.  He grew up in a world that gave him few rights and precious little freedom.  Yet when he emerged from prison he left his bitterness and despair behind him.  He knew that if he were to continue to hate he would never be free.

Instead he went forward to not only liberate his country South Africa, but also to become a shining example to the world as well.

mandela-day

To demonstrate, like no world leader had done before, that there is more power in forgiveness than there is retribution.  Nelson Mandela on this day would have been 96.  As a tribute to him and his life of service , the UN has declared July 18th, his birthday, as Nelson Mandela day in 2009.

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended….”Nelson Mandela

jayasalini2

“I admire people who strive for further peace in the world.  Who also inspire humanity for a better life of happiness and peace of joy.  Nelson Mandela was a person who dedicated his life to achieve a better world, and a world of peace.  I cannot compare myself to such a person.  What I am doing is a humble offering.  It is just a little drop that can give some inspiration to someone.  This is one of my goals.”

“Yesterday I felt so much, that this world would be flooded with peace and that no war would be on earth.”

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It was not a fair question.  I had asked Jayasalini to compare her struggle, as well as that of all the runners here, to that of Noble Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela.  A man who’s every word and action at one time spelled out the fate of his nation.

Each day she and the others move forward through their self imposed struggle for a goal, which is for her still 1100 miles away.  She made 2000 last night.

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Yet when you see her shining smile each day and as well the faces of all who run here.  How they continue to endure and forge on against such an impossible task.  We always have to be reminded at times of the true source of the inspiration that pushed and pulled them to come.

The irresistible tug of their heart and beings to come from so many far off places.  That same power that continues to flood them from within with hope, peace and joy.  The power that reaches out to the sometimes unreceptive physical.  Yet somehow still their legs continue to find the strength to endure one more lap after another.

This same power Is also inside each of us as well, no matter that we sleep or that we also pursue our own great impossible dreams.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done…..Nelson Mandela

ckg-Mandela

 

Dear President, yours is the life of a supremely chosen instrument, embodying both the excruciating bondage-pangs and the soaring freedom-dreams of your nation. The sweet hopes of your innocent childhood you unhesitatingly surrendered to Destiny’s challenging call. The loftiest goal of universal liberation you wholeheartedly embraced. Impossibility, defeat and bitterness are words never to be found in your oneness-heart-dictionary; unfathomable courage, unparalleled determination and indomitable strength radiate on every page.

Dear President Mandela, your life of unconditional sacrifice and your beloved country’s miracle-transformation are inseparable. Sleeplessly your lifeboat is plying between Africa’s bleeding heart-shore and Africa’s smiling soul-shore. Your triumphant peace-loving and oneness-building spirit the entire aspiring world shall forever love, cherish and adore.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy With Four African Peace-Immortals, Agni Press, 1996

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July 17: Deep Inner Peace

“A few days ago when I made my Peace Prayer movie it was such a good experience.  It was for me at least, but I also believe it was for everybody.”

Prayer For Peace

Who knows exactly how the inspiration first came to Stutisheel.  He like several other runners are making their own daily videos and posting them.

For a lot of people, particularly their friends it is a way to get a real taste of life here and to see and hear directly from the runners themselves.  It is nearly always a powerful experience.  Particularly if you can even begin to identify with all the long hard effort that takes place here just to keep moving, little alone take videos or write in blogs about it.

Stutisheel’s idea was simple.  Ask each of the 13 other  runners, including himself to make a short comment on peace in their own language.  Since he had to actually do some editing he had a chance to really appreciate the full impact of their collective sentiments.

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Most of the time the outside world doesn’t intrude very much at all into the lives and worlds of the 14 runners.  Just waking up, taking care of an injury, and most definitely making their laps are their first priority always.  Quite often visitors say that when they come here to the block the atmosphere changes immediately to something, for lack of a better word, divine or peaceful once you are actually here.

As always, the rest of the world is its customary vortex of activity. A blend of catastrophe and triumph at every moment.  As best as we might try and ignore the worst of it, some events cannot be so easily put aside, particularly if it directly impacts on our own lives.  But If we put all our focus on all the disasters and all the conflict that stirs and twists in dark angry currents across our world we can so easily miss the direction and inspiration of what are supposed to do with our own lives.

Stutisheel collected all the short clips and put it together into a very short movie.  In so doing came to just a little better understanding of just how precious and sacred his little world is here.  How once you see beyond the pain and fatigue that relentlessly exerts their torments, the limitless world of inner peace is also here too.

“In particular I was very touched by how William expressed his wishes.  He was running.  He was very focused.  When he said it, he said it with tremendous force and sincerity.  I wish for Peace and Love in the World.  My goodness.  It was so inspiring.”

“Then I compiled everything together….and this was wow!”

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“Sri Chinmoy said that Self-Transcendence is always accompanied by peace.  When you are giving your all, and you are expanding your limits.  Which is not at all easy and comfortable.  But in so doing you feel tremendous peace.  I just love those moments of deep inner peace and quite high outer intensity.”

“When you have 14 runners running for 33 days.  Which is no joke at all.  Doing 60, 65, 70 miles.  Literally I see in the eyes of the runners a flood of peace.  Their vibration is so peaceful.  So I do believe that we can somehow offer our drop of peace to the world at large from here.  This is my feeling.”

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ckg-cahit-running

First things first.
You do not have to know
The secret of peace.
You just have to know
The secret of self-transcendence.
Your self-transcendence
Will surround your entire being
With peace.

Sri Chinmoy, Peace-Blossom-Fragrance, Part 6, Agni Press, 1994

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July 16: Beyond Our Imagination

“Tarit told me yesterday, you have gone through 1800 miles.  He could have said any number he wanted.  You are running along and the days have gone by and you see the numbers 1800 on the board.  You just feel the same tiredness.  There could have been any numbers at all.  They just don’t mean anything at all.  I just glance at the board occasionally.”

william2

“For me I just have to wrap myself up in my own world.  I don’t even listen to anything. (MP3 player) I find that I have to associate,  Just focus on what I am doing.  To maintain my form and a nice easy running pace.  That is what gets the job done for me.”

“Where others here like to distract themselves.  Which for me doesn’t seem to work.  Dissociation is to have distraction of some sort.  Talking to someone and listening to music.  Whereas association which I tend to like is to just focus on the process of doing it.  Using cue words and mantras and that sort of thing.”

“This time of the morning I use….short and quick…. short and quick….short and quick. You just say it in time with your steps.”  He then says it out loud a few times and his words match the sound of his foot steps.”

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“Other times of the day it might be …..smooth and focused…….smooth and focused.  Especially in the evening I tend to use that one a lot.  I take a deep breath and I imagine that there is a ball deep down in my bladder area, and I am blowing it up.  So I do deep breathing and as I breathe out I say ….smooth and focused.  I use that a few times every lap.  These are very highly rehearsed.  It is like a form of self hypnosis.  That is what always seems to work for me.”

“I have got music but maybe I am missing out.  But I like my own thoughts and it seems to be getting the job done.”

Just about 500 miles ago which in race time was about 8 days, the Scottish record books were now clear and open for him to leave his own fresh marks.  The great Scottish/Canadian runner Al Howie had set some extraordinary times all the way up to 1300 miles.  His record time of 16 days and 19 hours set in 1991 at the Self Transcendence race here in New York.

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William has spent the last 31 days of his life here doing nothing else other than focus on running.  He has been preparing himself for the better part of the past 20 years to be the best ultra runner he can be.  He may as well over the next 21 days also demonstrate that he is the best 60 year old ultra runner in the world.  He still has a very long distance left to go.  1300 miles more and just 3 weeks in which to do it.

As I jog beside him I am as much aware of his gentle and thoughtful words as I am to the sound his light steps make along the sidewalk.  A sound that he has heard and has attuned himself to, much more than conversations and car horns.  Each light step carrying him on without any of the distractions that ensnare all of us each and every day.

And so because he has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the impossible of running 3100 miles, it grows just a little closer each day, with each new mile, and each new lap.  Which as of midnight last night was 3291 times so far around a High School in Queens New York.

sri-chinmoy-al-howie

Question asked of Sri Chinmoy: How does running fit in with your teaching?

But even on the outer plane our capacity is constantly expanding. Right now 1,300 miles is our longest race. To run 1,300 miles in 18 days is almost beyond our imagination. We feel that is our ultimate capacity. But previously we felt that 1,000 miles was the limit. Who thought of a 1,300-mile race five years ago? At that time people would have thought I was a crazy man if I had suggested that. But now you see that this crazy man was right because people are doing it. Somebody just has to start. We always have to go ahead because life means progress.

For full answer:

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 29, Agni Press, 2001

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July 15: Measureless Miles

“The rain is outside.  Happiness is inside.  They do not mix.  I love rain very much.  I call rain my friend, and when it comes I am very happy.”

“I understand that other runners do not like rain very much.  But rain doesn’t ask us when it comes.  Therefore I am very happy when it comes.  I cheer it.”

“I take rain as a part of the Supreme.  Rain, sun, and wind are all manifestations of the Supreme, and I try and take it with gratitude.  Our minds can think about it in a bad way.  But my heart feels that I am one with the rain.  Rain is also a symbol of purity.  So when it comes I feel more pure.  Outwardly it is difficult.  Inwardly I have a good feeling.”  Yuri Trostenyuk

Photo by Sarvadhara

Photo by Sarvadhara

On a night when the rain fell heavy and rich out of the sky Yuri completed 2000 miles on the very wet earth below.  He posed briefly for Sarvadhara to take a picture and then went on to cover an additional 5 more miles.

I know how I feel when it is raining, or it is cold, or I am tired and faced with the prospects of going out for a run.  Like many, I can easily make friends with procrastination and give in and give up.  Just like that.

None of the 14 runners ever have that option available to them at any time. No matter how hot it might be, no matter how heavy the rain comes down out of the sky, and no matter what creature of doubt or hesitation or the mistress of lethargy itself persistently tries to make their acquaintance. They all must be pushed aside in order to move on.

This board has been has been witness to many sweet victories over the years.  Not just a yellow backdrop to the greatness of champions who have completed the distance, but also to observe the small quiet triumphs that can take place long before the race is even over.

It is a constant presence.  There when pain or dark doubt have been turned away or when joy and peace have made their presence felt.  Observed the inner battles, both large and small. The joys both luminous and profound.  All the pilgrims pass it by but none stay by it long. Yet still its presence makes no permanent mark and yet passing by it means and counts for  much.

In the first year of the race, and over many other years, the great Ted Corbitt used to come out to visit the race.  As a pioneer of American distance running and a dear friend to Sri Chinmoy the founder of the race, this was a place where he could quietly and lovingly observe his ultra distance sport taking place at the absolute summit of his imagination and his dreams. He loved to come and quietly watch.

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At an age when he could just as easily walk up and enjoy ultra races from a distance, he instead continued to compete.  Compete at an extraordinary high level at an age when just about anybody would have questioned his sanity for doing so.

On one occasion when Sri Chinmoy heard that Ted was here visiting the race, he came over so that he could meet with his dear friend.  He asked Ted why he had not competed in the 6 and 10 day races in the Spring.  Apparently Ted mentioned that he was simply unable to run anymore and was only able to walk.  Sri Chinmoy, so it has been remembered said to him.

This is not something you are doing for yourself.  This is something you are doing for the world.

Ted Corbitt, at age 81 competed at our 6 day race at Wards Island in 2000 and walked 240 miles.  The following year in 2001 he returned again and walked 303 miles, 63 miles further.  Then when he was 84 in 2003 he did 68 miles in a 24 hour race, placing 17th out of 35 competitors.

ckg-corbitt-at-24-hour-race_0

 

Ted Corbitt, Ted Corbitt, Ted!
Runner-world revolution-head.
O softness-runner-saint,
Measureless miles your legs did paint.
A brave champion is found
In Heavenly Silence-Sound.

Sri Chinmoy, Run and become, become and run [songbook], , 1982

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July 14: Something Amazing

“The course is what we make of it.  It is always there.  Everybody makes of it what their current need and current capacity is suggesting to them.  And this is for everybody, whether they are spiritually minded or spiritually hearted or not.  They are still getting something.”…Teekshanam

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“People who live nearby come out during the day, either in the morning or in the evening for a jog.  They always circle the course but maybe in a different direction than we do.  They may not talk too much, but they kind of know what is going on and they really appreciate what is going on.  They don’t stop you and they don’t engage you in a conversation.”

Teekshanam describes that when on occasion he has found himself talking to these local people they are always incredibly respectful.  “They don’t want to disturb what is happening.  They know that we are doing something amazing.”

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He has found himself at many unexpected times alternately being cheered up by these strangers or just shown a true sense of appreciation for what he is doing,  He says this is not a kind of loud cheer leading kind of support but a more subtle and heart felt connection.  “They are moved they are touched.  It is a deep feeling inside them that they are very delicately expressing.”

“Yesterday I saw a man who was jogging very nicely.  For some reason I looked at his feet.  I wanted to ask him something about his shoes.  So I waved to him and he stopped.  I had seen him many times before.  But at that moment when I waved to him and wanted to talk to him.  He immediately stopped.”

“I couldn’t believe the amount of respect and the amount of appreciation he was showing.  I realized in that very short encounter that all this time, he was coming to jog here and keep silence.  But he was also very deeply aware of something big that was happening here.  He was totally respectful.”

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“I realized that yes, there are all these people around who seem to be minding their own business, but in some corner of their heart they are totally attuned.  To something that is bigger than any individual runner or any individual performance.”

“So I realized that within this silence that reigns here while people run here that there is a lot of inner oneness, that has already taken place.  It comes forward sometimes when it needs to come forward.  But it is always there.  There is real oneness between the local people who come to the course and the runners.  Even though there is no exchange of words.  So I immediately felt home.”

“Sometimes you feel, O I am by myself doing some laps here.  But in fact you have this whole army of people who observe you every day and support you every day, and who come here every day.  You don’t know them by name.  I may not even notice them by face.  But they are there offering their support.  It was a simple thing but made me feel that people are totally supportive of what we are doing.”

 

Photo of Sri Chinmoy Decathlon Champion Pondicherry

Photo of Sri Chinmoy Decathlon Champion Pondicherry

Sincerity
Changed his past
Slowly and steadily.

Determination
Is changing his present
Powerfully and convincingly.

Faith
Will change his future
Amazingly and permanently.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 39, Agni Press, 1982

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July 13: My Favorite Place

“It is my favorite place.” By all outer appearances there is nothing about this simple sidewalk, that goes around a school and a park that would ever make it onto any travelers must see lists.    Visitors to New York, like Suprabha, could easily find more beautiful and more interesting sites than this.

It is place that is simply so ordinary that on the surface there is nothing about it that would catch your eye.  Yet despite this, it still has a powerful and compelling way of capturing your heart.  Then when it has done this,  it is somehow able to open up limitless vistas of possibility within you.  Not something any other half mile rectangle of concrete could possibly do.

Suprabha

There is certainly nobody who is more connected and invested to this place quite like Surprabha.  She lives in DC and has a gift shop there and only occasionally visits Queens.  Yet so much of her life, both inner and outer has taken place right here over the past 14 summers.   It is quite natural, and no stretch of the imagination to assume then, that a part of her will always be connected to it.

There are some who might make a strong claim that this place is also theirs.  Let anyone claim it as their own, their very own.  There is more than enough hard concrete and golden dreams of Transcendence  here to satisfy everybody who wishes to be a part of it.

Yet Suprabha has certainly spent more time, and run more miles, and journeyed far far beyond the hard 43,000 miles that she has run here over those long hot 14 summers, starting in 1996.

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On this quiet Sunday morning we stroll casually around the loop.  The clock is not running, and no one is counting her laps.  Instead it is just a brief visit to her favorite place. She points out some of the sites that she enjoyed the most.  “This stretch I love.  You come around the curve until you see the buses.  In the evening it is so peaceful.”

It was in 1986 that she ran her first really long race of 200 miles.  It was at a time, just 2 years after women were allowed to compete in the Olympic marathon.  “Sri Chinmoy really introduced it for us.  He actually encouraged a small team of girls.  His vision was to bring women into the running picture I think.”

I mention that Ray had said that it was not impossible to imagine that a girl could be an overall winner here.  “Look at Dipali, she is often second overall.  She is amazing and she has the women’s world record.  I think women have qualities that lend themselves to super long distance.  Like patience and perseverance.”

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“I feel extremely lucky to have participated in all the races.  It gives me joy to come back and see them (the runners in this years race) go around.”

“When I run any time of the year here, when I come to New York I really do try and bring back some of the things that happened here.”  We are coming along by the Grand Central and she mentions that Sri Chinmoy visited the race so often, “he probably stopped at every foot around the course.”

“We are so lucky.  He was here so many times.”

She says that even after his passing in 2007 and she went on to run the race another 2 years, she still felt his presence.  “Everything is still happening the way it always was.  There is still so much oneness.  There is still so much love.   There are still so many ways to participate, to offer something, and to receive something.  It is still all being generated from the same source.”

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Paradise is the place
Where my heart wants to grow.
Paradise is the place
Where my mind wants to know.
Paradise is the place
Where my soul wants to sow–Sow the seed of perfection.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 62, Agni Press, 1983

suprabha-and-ckg

Photo by Jowan

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