July 27: Earth And Heaven Came Together Here

5 years ago when Galya Balatsky last ran here it took him 46 days to complete the 3100 mile race.  In the long 5 year period that lay between then and now he continued to run, train, and obviously improve.  Last night, in the dwindling minutes before midnight he ran across the finish line once more.  This time nearly 4 days faster than his previous attempt.

He carried his nation’s flag, his face lit bright by a smile, and his self transcendence offering was completed at last.

This morning as he completes the few laps that will give him an additional Ukrainian record I ask if his waiting 5 years to come was worth it.  “Yes of course.”

The additional record that he now holds as well is one of almost shocking consistency.  For all of his 43 days on the course he never ran l day less than 70 miles per day.  It has never been done before and many people suggest strongly that it is a record that may  never be broken.

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“I am surprised because it is actually difficult to plan.” It is almost as if even he himself is surprised at his accomplishment.  He even ran 72 miles on his last day.  “You can never be sure.  You can be injured with each step.  Anything can happen.”

Stutisheel who is running with us says, “I just feel that this record will stay, if not for ever, than for a very very long time.  When grace descends, and personal effort and personal determination come together, than that is when this kind of miracle can happen.”

“But it is very very rare, and very powerful miracle that happened.”

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“To be sure there was lots of pressure particularly in the last few days.”  His only answer was to simply do what he had done every other day, reach the goal that he had set. “I have just got to go to the end.”

Galya tells me a story of how he once ran a 24 hour race and finished with 199km.  His goal had been to complete 200km.  From then on his goal was always to run till the very end.

“I have a feeling that there is some kind of magic here.  Not just some magic but real magic.  I was hoping that I would be a good instrument this time.  Earth and heaven came together here.”

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Galya now has just a few more laps.  He says he will be both happy and sad when he no longer has to run.”

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July 26: The Race Is More Than Special

Last year Jayasalini Abramovskikh completed the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race in her first attempt.  Coming to New York from her home in Moscow was a dream come true for her.  She had come many times to the multi day races in Flushing Meadow, but the 3100 was always calling out to her.  So when she did at last run in 2014, every step past 10 days was another step of Self Transcendence for this amazing athlete.

Her final result of 51 days and 12 hours was good enough to place her 7th overall amongst women competitors.  But rank, and time was never her goal.  She knew that by coming and taking part she was doing exactly what she needed to do at the time it was supposed to be done.

This year, due to injury she could not participate.  But the call of the race was so strong that she has now come for a week to visit the race.  Also, as fate would have it, she was here as history was made when Ashprihanal set a new world record.

“On one of the first days when I was running.  Vasu was passing by me and he said, did you see Guru? He was passing by in a car.  I was not surprised at all.  I answered, no.  I didn’t see him.”

“He said look in that car.  He will come again.  He will pass by one more time.  Than it was Databir who was driving his car and he was holding the picture of Guru.  Who in the picture was there with folded hands.  After that I was looking forward to seeing Guru.”

“Vasu asked many times.  Did you see Guru? I said yes, yes, I saw.”

Jayasalini than got in the habit of looking forward to seeing Databir’s car when it passed by.  “I was offering all my devotion to see this picture.  To see Guru with folded hands.  For me it was one of the sweetest memories and experiences.  It was just seeing Guru pass by twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.  It was very obvious and very tangible that he was here.”

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“Last year during the whole race I felt very peaceful and very happy.  I felt happy from knowing I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and being where you are supposed to be.  It was such peaceful joy and happiness.”

“But one day, I felt like I wanted some experience.  Because some runners were telling stories that they had such experiences.  They see Gods and Goddesses.  I was happy with my feeling inside.  But one day I asked Guru, if you want please give me an experience that I can really catch and be tangible.”

“Than one day I was running and I saw a man.  He was wearing orange clothes like a Buddhist monk.  He was walking up the hill and I was running down the hill in the opposite direction.  It reminded me of a scene in an old movie in which Guru is walking along a country road in a red dhoti.  He was swinging his arms so gently and smoothly and smiling.”

“The man in orange was walking exactly the same way.  When we drew closer to each other he folded his hands and he bowed to me.  Than I did the same and we both continued on our way.”

“That was an amazing story.  Guru fulfills all our wishes, everything.”

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“During the very last days of the race last year, Pranjal had already finished.  Than he came up to me and he was taking pictures.  He asked me, are you going to run next year.  I hope I will, I don’t know.  He said next year will be a very very special race….. and this race is more than special.  It is unbelievable.”

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July 25: My Best Race

“It was a special day for the whole universe not just for us.”

Yesterday in an almost storybook fashion Ashprihanal finished the 3100 mile race setting a world record in the process.  For all of us who could attend it was a beautiful and historic experience.  It really did feel that something of major significance took place.  That it was not just a brief glow on this shabby patch of concrete but in some ways that a bright beacon shone forth to spread light over the whole world as well.

*Click On Picture Below to go to Drop Box………Wait a moment and click on OPEN in top right corner to play Day 42*

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Now of course the other runners no longer have that phenomenal burst of energy, that was the 44 year old man from Finland, with them any longer.  He no longer blazes his way around and around the block pulling the tired and disheartened along with him.

“Yesterday I felt as though he finished the 3100 miles in one day.  Yesterday when he had just a few laps to go it felt to me as though he had just started that morning.  It was amazing.  It was really smooth right from the first day.  He was passing me many times.  But it was as though he wasn’t even there.”

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“He was really inspiring. It was amazing.  You can’t imagine what it is like running 76 miles a day.  It is beyond the physical world.  He can do it again next year very easily.”

“He ran so easily and I am dying every day and every hour and he was like flying.  It was not running it was flying.  When people call him the flying Finn it is really true.”

When the race is over.  “I will not be sad, but I will miss everything. I had a really really hard race.  It was my hardest.  But on the other side it is my best race.  What doesn’t kill you  makes you stronger.”

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Every day is like a new day for Baladev he says.  “We do not live in the past.  It is hard to understand because, it is a natural feeling.  We are just running this moment.  This is the reason we are missing the race when it is finished.  Because we live in the one lap, or sometimes just a few meters.”

“I wish everybody could experience this.”  Baladev feels that what he experiences is real spirituality in many of the ways that Sri Chinmoy expressed in his philosophy.  It is hard to believe.”  He feels that most often people who watch the race don’t understand this.  They think the runners are just running and not much else is happening.

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“A few people have a real understanding of what is going on here.   In the future more people will have this feeling about the race.”

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July 24: Constant Blessings

“I never broke the record before today.”

This is the 13th time that 44 year old Finnish runner Ashprihanal has run the hardest, longest race in the world.  The Self Transcendence race record books are full of his accomplishments, but today he has set a very unique record when he won the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race and set a new incredible record. One that was apparently years in the making but today took just 40 days, 9 hours, and 6 seconds to accomplish.

“It feels very nice.  I feel that I did it for Guru.” As Ashprihanal is saying these things he is sitting in a chair as relaxed and content as it may be possible to be.  He has not had this opportunity to relax for more than 40 days.  If offered he also would not have taken it.  He never once slipped from his relentless pushing over the 3100 miles he has run.

In the background Sahishnu, one of the race directors calls out.  “You did 3 kilometers a day more than Madhupran did.”

“That is good.” Ashprihanal’s time is 23 hours faster than Madhupran when he set the record in 2006.  Recently he sent this message to Ashprihanal

I am tremendously happy for you - you deserve the world record! Your constancy and focus is spectacular. I have always admired you for your ease. You run like a feather. This is self-transcendence par excellence. You are the greatest! I am happy for you with all my heart.

Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk

When asked if he had been thinking about the record from the first day, “absolutely.  It was definitely my plan, right from the start.  I had a funny experience my first day.  Mdhupran’s first day was 85 miles.  My best first day so far was 90 miles.  So I was thinking I would do between 85 and 90 miles the first day.”

“Than some voice in my head said, stop that false modesty, and so then I did 94 miles.  I stopped thinking about what I was doing, and just went for it.  It worked.”

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“Grahak started helping me after 2 weeks.  At first he was kind of stiff.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to help me.  Than it turned out very good.  The main thing was to have oneness.  Than also he knew everything.  It was perfect help.  He is the 3rd best runner of the 3100.  You need a friend.”

“He also said the right things at the right moment.”

Ashprihanal says that in the earliest races his favorite moment is when Sri Chinmoy would sit next to him after he finished.  “That used to be the nicest moment.  Now I guess this is pretty nice.”

“Guru always in believed in transcendence.  Once you do something life goes on and you find new adventures.  Next year I am going to do some climbing, Guru’s mountains.”

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“I couldn’t do it without Guru’s constant blessings.  The force was there all the time.  It was not my capacity.  I feel that he wanted it to be done.  So I was just enjoying the ride.”

“I kind of felt that Guru asked me to do it.  So than I promised to be focused all the time and run till 12.”

By completing the race 13 times he also ties the record set by Suprabha.  Asked if he would do it again, “I think so.  I will meditate and see what I feel.  This is Guru’s special race.  He came here every day many times a day.”

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July 23: Make My Absolute Happy

“I still cannot make friends with the American sun and the American heat.”

50 year old Yuri Trostenyuk is running his 3rd 3100 mile race spectacularly well.  The last 2 summers he has found a way of conquering the half mile of concrete but the heat and humidity of a typical New York summer is another matter.

“I try to transcend it, but the problem keeps coming back.  I am solving it.  These hardships are making me stronger.  When such hardships come the little things just fall away. The only thing that remains is the most important thing.  These hardships are making me immune and much stronger.”

Till now his pace has been averaging of 67 miles a day.  His mileage going into day 40 is 2641 miles, 51 miles ahead of last year. He ran 64 miles yesterday.

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“This is my goal of self transcendence.  I am trying to go beyond my previous results.  My main goal is to make my Absolute happy.”

Ashprihanal is also very far ahead of not only his personal best but also the course record.  “What he is doing is beyond the outer result.  What he is also doing is something inner and I see his determination, his perseverance,  and it is beyond the mind.”

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I ask Yuri if he feels in someway like a pioneer running the 3100 mile race. “You can see it in the participants.  You can feel it inwardly even though you might not see it.  I feel and see very special blessings from heaven here.  They want to give a chance to earth and to people.”

“I feel a tremendous calling coming from Mother Earth.  This is her hope for the future.  I feel the tremendous hunger of humanity in what is going on here.  It is like a sip fresh water, and a exit out of the situation the world is caught up in right now.”

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“Therefore there is a huge responsibility that gets transferred to the runners here at the race. There is huge aspiration, huge self giving, sacrificing all your strength till the end of the day, every day.”

“This is the 3rd time that I am participating in this race.  Such power, such self giving, I have not felt before as I do now this year in the race.  Of course the race is not over yet.  But the situation that is happening here now is mobilizing, it is organizing, and it inspires and gives strength and power.”

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July 22: Everything Is Part Of The Race

“How can you have a good story about food poisoning?”

Surasa smiles back with her bright inexhaustible enthusiasm, “I have a very good story about it.”

Starting on day 6, in the very earliest part of the race Surasa was having some real stomach problems.  “At one point we went to a Doctor.  The Doctor said to me…..You are sick! You have to rest for 24 hours!…..and no food.”

After this Surasa came back to the race and was wondering what should she do.  “It was clear to me.  I cannot rest for 24 hours.  Than I decided that I would run, but I will not eat.  I will give some rest to my stomach. Of course this was very stupid.”

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“The nice part of this story is that when I came back to the race.  When I started running it was somehow like I was running on my first day. (energy and strength) She was so shocked that she was feeling so good.  “I felt so strong and I felt that I could run.  I was running so fast.  My feeling was that the course was completely flat.”

“It was a new start, a new beginning of the whole race.  I was so happy inside and grateful.”  But here Surasa felt she made a big mistake and did not take any food.  Her instinct was that it was okay for her to eat, “but the Doctor was too strong.  You see how stupid the mind can be.  You get the message but because the Doctor said no food, I obeyed the Doctor and not my inner feeling.”

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“Of course after a while I got tired running so fast without food.  This is absolutely stupid.  By the evening I was very very tired.  So I went home early.  The next day I was very very weak, because I had not eaten.” So the next day she had to eat a lot and slowly her energy came back.

Surasa does not focus on her day to day results.  She mentions at one point how surprised she was so see that her name had moved from the right board to the left one.  The board that shows the mileage of the top 6 runners.  She should not be surprised by this, nor by the other wonderful possibilities that she is also drawing closer and closer to.

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She ran 64.2 miles yesterday, which gives her 2368 miles.  If it is possible for her to continue like this she will, like Ashprihanal, set a new race standard for women.  Her average mileage to date is 62.32 miles per day.  Suprabha’s record set in 1998 is and average of 62.49 miles a day.

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When asked about the finish line, “it is coming closer.  It is a nice thing.  It goes faster and faster.”

“This is a nice place for me.  I have had a real good time.  Everything is part of the race.  Everything is fine.”

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July 21: Can’t Do This By Yourself

I start off my conversation this morning with Nirbhasa, by dealing with the painfully obvious subject matter of the abrasions to his face.  Which since it occurred 4 days ago is now old news.  He is looking much much better each day since he took a tumble last Friday.

He says it never worried him falling but was more concerned about the loss of time.  “I never really thought it was all over.  Up here (everything above his legs), there is no part of my body that I need to run with.  Including the brain. (laughs)

*Click on Picture Below to go to Drop Box to Play Day 38*………….Than click on OPEN in top right hand corner.  It may take a moment*

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“I was a little worried that I would have to go for stitches.  That is an afternoon gone.  Thankfully within 10 to 15 minutes I was patched up and on my way.”

He had said earlier that he believed that when he got into the second half, the race would become easier.  “It is certainly easier on the body.  In terms of miles it is still playing its little games.  It is like, O my God, how long have I got to go? Etc, etc.”

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“You know it is a real opportunity to work on developing all the inner spiritual qualities.  And actually being happy out here.  That is something I really try and do, right from the first lap.  Not think about how long I have to go.”

Yesterday Nirbhasa ran 62 miles and now has 2223 miles done.  He has only 877 more miles to run.  I ask him if he sees the finish line now.  “That is good and bad at the same time.  It is still a long long way away.  2 weeks is long time by anybody’s reckoning.  The days do pass by pretty quickly.  Once the finish line starts to appear you are saying, how long, how long?”

877 miles is the distance from Dublin to Prague

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“I think the best advice if you have 40 days left or if you have 14 like we have here is to take each day at a time.  To enjoy each day and see what each day has to bring.”

“You definitely feel that you can’t do this by yourself. That somebody, you can say the highest part of your own being.  Your Soul, God, is doing this in and through you.  That is actually quite fun, because it is something that you can very tangibly feel.  So than you try and identify with that highest part.  Instead of identifying with your thoughts or your body.  You actually feel that something (somebody) is doing this in and through you.”

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“I think one of the great things about this race, that I think would be impossible to replicate, under normal situation in the every day world.  Is simply the sheer amount of dedication that you need.  You are never, for the 52 days, you are never really switched off.  Even when you are off the course and go home and take a break.  It is really a tremendous dynamic focus.  You never waste a minute.”

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July 20: This Race is so Sacred

“I come every day because I can only be inspired by this race.” Dipali probably does a lot of things really well.  The only thing I ever see her do most days though is run.  For hours her light strides prowl here and there around the Queens neighborhood in which she lives.

There may be some strict trajectory to her flights each day but most often she seems to flit here and there. She will suddenly pop up unexpectedly on some road you are walking when you least expect it.  The light cadence of her shoes dancing across the sidewalk.  A perpetual smile beaming beneath a large  pair of sunglasses.

When the 3100 mile race is going on of course her orbits more frequently mesh into the cycle of the runners.  She loves the race very much but it has never called her to it.  Her race is Flushing Meadow and the yearly 6 day race.

“Right now I am truly inspired by Ashprihanal’s performance.  I saw him last year start the 10 day race.  And I thought, that boy is on some special record, which he did.  He was doing 83 miles a day.”

“This year I saw his first lap.  I have never seen Ashprihanal go out so fast on lap one.  I thought, he is after the record here.  Intuitively I felt it.”

“To break down what he is doing, he is running an average of 76.58 miles a day.  From day one I have seen every record go of his predecessor Madhupran.  Ashprihanal to me is a low key champion.”

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“I come at all different times of the day.  I see different aspects of him.  I only admire him.  He is relentless and he flows.  The way he moves his body.  The way he swings those arms.  I can only relate to that he is pulling in light.  A force from above.”

“He has Grahak helping him here this year.  This year he is really being taken care of.  Grahak is an incredible runner and now an incredible helper for him.”

Dipali also recalls a story of how once when Sri Chinmoy was visiting the race, he wanted nobody to stand close to him.  “You’ll never know what I am giving these runners.” She said at that time that as he handed prasad to each runner a very close and sacred connection was made with each of them.

“I realized that this race is so sacred.  It is so profound.  These runners will always make it look easy, even though they are running incredible mileage each day.”

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I ask how important the course is for Dipali the rest of the year.  “I do tap into the effort that they leave behind here.  As we see every day crying, smiling, laughing.  They leave some part of their journey here.  I reflect on it, I remember it.  I have trained here for 20 years.  The essence of what they are leaving, what Sri Chinmoy left here.  It’s here.  I find something so spiritual here, I come every day.”

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July 19: One Of The Best Things I Ever Did

Every runner who comes to participate in the 3100 mile race has to have a deep inner feeling and conviction that it is the right thing to do.  It also goes without asking that they also need to be incredibly fit and well trained.  Over 19 summers many runners have come, and each has had their own unique inspiration.  One that was strong enough to shake them loose from a comfortable life back home into doing something that is the hardest thing in the world to do.

Grahak’s story of how he came to be here for the first time is particularly special.  It also shows just how much Sri Chinmoy knew and cared for both the inner and outer aspects of each of his students.

“In 2005 I had just finished a one mile race in Qingdao (Christmas trip in China).  I got second, which was pretty rare for me.  I was in the function room of the hotel.  Sri Chinmoy was handing out the awards, and he said to me.   Have you run our longest race?”  Confused a bit he replied that he had done the race and come in second.

“Than he asked me again in the lobby of the hotel, the same question.  Than it started to inspire me, or hit home, exactly what he was asking.  After that it took me a year or 2 to get up the courage and I applied to do the race.

“It was definitely insightful by Sri Chinmoy because I had been thinking about the race.  It was in the back of my mind after watching Rathin Bolton, the first Australian to run in the race.”

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After Finishing in 2007

Up till then the longest Grahak had ever run was the 47 mile race.  “I did the 47 twice before I did the 3100.  But if Sri Chinmoy says you can do something, or asks you about something, it is there for the taking.  Or he is giving you the capacity or you have the capacity, one or the other.”

“It took me a couple of years to get the courage up to apply, and to decide to really do it.  It was full in 2006 so I waited until 2007.  That was my first race.”

“You can’t really understand what the race is all about until you do it.”   Grahak also describes the many emotions that he went through.  Mostly he was eager to just start, since he had by then trained so much by then.  “I just wanted to begin but I was definitely nervous, and a bit fearful as well.”

“It was one of the best things I ever did.”

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Grahak describes the immense joy that he felt each time he ran.  That in doing this extremely difficult thing he was not just transcending himself but also pleasing his spiritual teacher in his own way.  “Even now you can see the pride in the runners faces.”

“When he came to visit the race there was so much encouragement.  It helped get me through.  I really looked forward to the times that he was coming.  You could guess the approximate times he would come and make sure you were out there on the course.  It was really special.”

While we are going on around the course I mention that Ashprihanal had just finished 2700.  “I missed it.” (laughs)

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“He doesn’t like talking about the finish.  He knows that he is ahead of the record.  I tell him, you know that you are beating your own best time by 3 days.  That is amazing.”

“It is not about beating my time it is about beating Madhupran’s time.  He knows what he is doing.  I think he will get faster as he gets closer.”

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July 18: My First Home

“I know my body.  Sometimes you have to surrender to Mother Nature and sometimes I am running well.”

For the last 2 days this 37 year old Czech runner has been running very well.  Yesterday he ran 71 miles and at this moment in the morning there is nobody faster on the course.  His pace is so smooth and flowing it would be nearly impossible to guess that he has been here doing this very same thing for the past 34 days.  In the process also amassing 2187 miles.

This is Atmavir’s 8th race and it seems that the lessons you learn running 3100 mile race never end.  No matter how many miles you have run.   No matter how many years you  have dedicated yourself to its baffling wonders.  How to cope with bad days and also how to cope with days when you switch to autopilot and let the mysterious inner force within carry you almost effortlessly along.

“Right now I am one lap faster than Ashprihanal.  In the afternoon it could change.  So I don’t mind.  If I am running I enjoy it, and if I am not running, I try to be a happy walker.  But I have to say that I am a really miserable walker.  Only Stutisheel is slower than me.”

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Atmavir’s first race here was in 2007 and he has many fond memories of Sri Chinmoy coming to the course to inspire all the runners.  The other day he received a small prasad ginger bread that reminded him very much of something that Sri Chinmoy had given to him.

“He gave it to me from his hand.  It was on the other side of the course.  He opened up his hand and there was, in his hand this little ginger bread that he bought himself from the Greek Deli for us.  I have really sweet stories of Guru. I can remember many little details.”

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His family back home have been supportive as best they can.  His Dad is a Doctor and has perhaps come to wonder,, as the years have passed, just why Atmavir keeps running the race.  “My Dad said, you have done this race many times.  Now you should give a chance to younger ones.  Because it might effect your health in the future.  I am really surrounded by people from the medical field.  I realize in this case I cannot listen to them.  I am really disobedient to my family.  This is my spiritual family.”

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“I always used to say that this was my second home.  But over the years I have to change this opinion.  This is my first home.”

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