August 9… To Beautify The World

Her story is almost perfection itself.  Or at least one that most accurately reflects how we mortals struggle and strive against adversity.   Then when we least expect it we accomplish that once insurmountable task that had risen up in front of us.

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In turn we are rewarded or we find the true meaning of just how precious the goals that come to challenge us truly are.  Hopefully we  learn and grow stronger.   Understand just a little better what we must do in order to reach up and draw ourselves closer to our own perfection.

Last year Kaneenika in her first attempt at 3100 miles made it to 3014 miles.

A result that some might call a defeat.  But in the peculiar divine world of the Self Transcendence Race it was another kind of victory. One that does not step up onto a visible podium, but instead shines brightly in the summit of the heart.

When we meet this morning I joke with Kaneenika that tomorrow she will not be here

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“It is true.”

“It is always very inspiring and encouraging to get messages from people.  Quite often I get messages from people I don’t even know.  It reminds me that people really follow this race and appreciate what we are doing here.”

“It is so special.  When I read these messages they are like a joy pill and a pain killer in one.  Also an energy boost.  It is so nice to know that people have so much oneness.  I am so grateful.”

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“This race may look like an individual sport but we have all these supporters and all these helpers.  They just carry us along.  The race wouldn’t be possible without the helpers and everybody around the world who follows the race.  All those who send good wishes and pray for us.  That is the beauty of this race.”

“When I was a new disciple.  I was watching the race for the first time.  I was here in New York for the summer.  At the time Rupantar asked me if I would think about this race.  But I couldn’t think anything.  It was so beyond.”

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“Then he told me that Sri Chinmoy once said that when we are doing races like this.  Something good happens somewhere else.  So I believe that something like that is happening.  I don’t believe that Sri Chinmoy created this race just for us to go around and around.  That it is really for humanity to make progress.”

Later at the finish line she shares another story.  One that took place when she was really having a tough time.

“I was running on the far side of the course and I met a girl who was running in the opposite direction.  Then she smiled at me and said you are amazing.  I didn’t know her and I didn’t even know if she even knew about the race.  So I just smiled back at her out of my misery.  And it felt good.”

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Click below to hear Sahishnu’s speech and Kaneenika’s speech:

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She says that she then came upon a mother walking with her little girl.  “I smiled at them and they smiled back at me. I thought wow.  I am feeling much better than I felt before.”

Just after this she came back into the camp and noticed a banner with Sri Chinmoy’s smiling face on it.  Also on it was the aphorism

Just one smile
Immensely increases
The beauty of the universe.

Sri Chinmoy, A God-devotion-teardrop, 2006

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“And I thought, is this the answer to my question.  This is why we run these races.  To beautify the world.  Wow, that is really powerful.  I was reflecting on this afterwards.  I thought Sri Chinmoy is so smart.”

“He gives us this incredible race.  To help to make this world more beautiful.”

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*Editors Note:  This will be my last post for the race this year.   My last attempt to document this incredible event, called the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race.  It is with deep and humble gratitude that I have offered these daily posts to all of you who have both dipped and dove into my little creations.  The race is well beyond what my words, pictures, and sound can do.   Hopefully you have been inspired and will also be able to accomplish in the near future your own self transcendence task.*

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August 8… A New Experience

This morning when Surasa ran by me she asked if I wouldn’t mind taping a message for her.  Of course I considered it a great honor to be able to to record this for all her friends and admirers.

“I have a message for my friends.”

“Dear friends all over the world.  I just want to tell you that you don’t have to worry about me.  I am really fine.”

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“There are other more important things and the world to worry about.  For me this is just about missing  a few miles, and what is that.   Of course it is a new experience for me.  Because in my other races, the last 2 were so good.”

“It is a new experience to walk for more than half of the race.  But I think new experiences are needed in life.  They are good in order to make inner progress.  And inner progress is of course what we want to make.”

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“So if everything stays like this then I will be able to do more than 3000.  I am more than happy about this.”

“So I am not at all disappointed or sad.   I really feel happy and peaceful inside.  I think this is important.  This makes me very happy.”

“But I want to thank you again for all your support.  Very soon it will be the end of the race.”

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At the start of the race in 2007 Sri Chinmoy spontaneously composed a poem about his beloved 3100 mile race.  The runners were standing in front of him. At first he was meditating silently and powerfully and then began to speak these words.

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan

Longest self giving journey

Heaven’s brightest smile

Earth’s proudest embrace

God’s Newest Victory Discovery

Self-Transcendence 3,100-Mile Race Songs

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan

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August 7… How Can I Stop

When I meet with Baladev this morning he has just been reading a page full of poems that Sri Chinmoy wrote on the topic of never giving up.

I ask him what that means to him and he says, “right now I am not in a talking mood.”

Instead he uses the time to read them all to me.  In a thoughtful and compelling way. Sharing with me, that when he read them moments earlier they had made him cry.

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Each one a powerful message.  Each one adding another insight into humanity’s deep need, if not obligation to always continually attempt to move forward, even in the face of relentless resistance on all levels.

Baladev is an incredible example of never giving up.  This is his 8th summer here and as of last night he had completed 2664 miles.  A distance that would take him from his home town of Komjatice Slovakia all the way to Tajikistan.  With still 3 days left Baladev will accumulate well over 2700 miles.

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He has worn a special shirt this morning.  One that was custom made for him a few years ago.

“On my back is ‘Never Give Up,’ and on the front is, ‘Go Forward.’

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“When I have never give up on my back I feel as though it is pushing me to go forward, and I am between these 2 secrets. So I am moving.  How can I stop?”

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Never give up, never give up!
Even if you lose your way
A great many times,
You must realise that your destination
Is sleeplessly expecting your arrival.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 224, Agni Press, 1995

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August 6… God Has A Plan

Be good and remain
good; if you want
to be a supremely
chosen child of God.

When I go to meet Vasu out on the course he is reciting the daily prayer with Stutisheel.  Saying the daily prayer is something that he has done throughout this race, and as far as I know it is something so important to him that he has done this same thing every day in all the 5 years he has run here.

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Finish Songs:

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When he repeats the prayer it is not just done once, or twice.  He will say it many many times and for many of the prayers he has memorized them.  Letting the sacred words enter so deeply into his heart that they can never be extracted. Using them as guidance for not just each day but his entire life

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It is day 49.  Yesterday Vasu ran 66 miles, this morning he has just 18 miles to go.  He will finish a little after 10 this morning.  I joke with Vasu.  Since you have the whole day in front of you.  Have you made any plans

“No.”

“I have no plan.  God has a plan.”

Vasu says he will be happy when he finishes.  “The race has been very very nice.  Many disciples have worked on this race.  I want to say that this is team work.”  He adds that he has been singing the song Sri Chinmoy once wrote about team work.

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God-manifestation-teamwork
Is infinitely better and happier
Than any other teamwork.

Sri Chinmoy, My song-river-heart, part 2, 1992

Vasu says that this is true.  “For me the race is too hard and too long.  For me alone it is not possible for me to do it by myself.  But if we do it together it becomes possible.  And I am grateful for everybody and for Guru. They all gave me the possibility to do this.”

He says that he will miss the race when it is over.  His answer implying that there is no doubt that he will return again.

Vasu says that even though every other year he has continually run faster he doesn’t mind that his result this year is slower.

“I try to be happy no matter what I have.”

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A friend he tells me that he was surprised that he was going to come in 4th place.  Vasu says that when you attempt to run 3100 miles.  “It doesn’t matter 4th place or any other place.  I only think, can I finish the race?”

“I think it is only by the Grace of Guru that I have the possibility of doing it.  I am thankful to him and also to all his students who aspire to do it.”

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At the award ceremony Vasu is very emotional.  He tells everyone that Sahishnu had told him if he couldn’t speak he could just cry. (laughs)  “This is the victory of Guru and the victory of everyone of you. Thank you.”

I ask Vasu after all these years has he been changed by the race.  He repeats this prayer.

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Little by little I must
change my life only
in God’s own Way.

 Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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August 5… A New Goal

“Three years ago I had a dream, and in that dream I saw that the distance for this race would be longer in the future.”

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For Atmavir this morning the finish line is just 41 miles away.  When he crosses it for the 9th time late this afternoon it will be the 9th time that he has done so.  A distance, should you be so curious to know is 27,900 miles.

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He talks about how fast the race went.  Which in turn spins the perspective back onto us.   A reminder of just how challenging, fulfilling, or frivolous we all spent our past 47 days.

What accomplishments and challenges did we so gracefully and powerfully succeed in like he and all the other members of the very small 3100 mile family.

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“I am sure it was not just me that noticed this.  I am sure all the runners did and also people who are watching.”

“So I am praying for a new goal.  It is really giving me great joy.  I am a dreamer and dreamers are walking above the earth.”

“I have strong faith.  This year I felt during the race that the capacity is already there.  It is just a matter of time.  A few more years, and it will come.

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“For me this race was the best so far.  I feel that they are going up every year.  Not just outwardly but inwardly.  They are getting richer every single year.”

47 Days: 11 Hours: 32 Minutes: 00 Seconds

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flower atmavir-1400974

To-day’s Victory

We Celebrate

Only to invoke

A new Goal

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2006, Agni Press, 2006

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August 4… The Whole World Is In My Heart

It was the closes finish ever at the 3100 mile  race.  Last night at midnight both Yuri and Ashprihanal had put in an astonishing day of running.  Demonstrating unquestionably what it really means to dig deep, try harder, and for all of us mortals on the sideline, what appeared to be transcending themselves in a way that has not been witnessed on this little block in Queens ever.

*cover photo Jowan……translation Lyalya….*

It can get confusing when you try and track down the whys and wherefores of this sprint to the finish.  Keep in mind the distance between the 2 had been less than a sliver for days.  But yesterday with nothing to loose each took their performances to a level that had to be their absolute ultimate.  Yuri ran 79 miles and Ashprihanal 86 miles.

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They went home at midnight with just 8 miles separating them.  A gap, that with an extra day added would have been evaporated by Ashprihanal.  But no, the race was not to be won by its record holder from last year.  Yuri just had to run 5 more miles.  He was to be the champion this year.

“Do you think this is my victory? No this is the victory of the Supreme.”

“This is the victory of our teacher.  This is the victory of heaven.  This is the victory of earth.  The victory of humanity.  This is the victory of each and every one of you.”

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“It wasn’t a simple race.  You can’t understand it with the mind.  You can only feel it with the heart.”

“With me my teacher was always present.  One that loves me, and one that I love so much.”

“A samurai warrior has come to me and shared with me his strength.  All of you here are my friends.  Without your support it would not have been possible.”

“We are not just running on a concrete sidewalk.  We are not on a path that leads to wealth and fame.  This path leads us to the depths of our hearts.  The place where God lives within us.  Where it is his home.  I was there.  There is everything there in order to be happy.”

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“Happiness, joy, oneness.  All of this I want to share with you.”

“I am happy, so happy.  Guru is in my heart.  The whole world is in my heart.  You are all in my heart.  It will be like this always.”

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Click to Play the sound of Yuri’s finish:…46 Days, 01 hour, 10 minutes, 25 seconds

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A heart of gratitude
Finds divine Blessings
And divine Love
All along its way.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 187, Agni Press, 1993

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August 3… God’s Embrace

I greet Yuri this morning with, “we won’t be doing this again.”

It is his last full day of running and by early tomorrow his 3100 mile race will be over for this year.  He starts the day with just 84 more miles left to run.

*Translation by Lyalya*

In each of our previous talks he has mentioned that he feels as though he is approaching God’s home.  I joke that with the tiny distance left remaining he must now be brushing his shoes off on the carpet in front of God’s door.

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“That is correct but there are no shoes.  I just feel the happiness of God.  I just feel the presence of God.  I feel his embrace  He is stretching out his arms to me and I am stretching out my arms towards  him.”

“God’s embrace I will feel tomorrow.”

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I then ask Yuri a practical question about why his speed over the past 4 days has increased so dramatically.  I am curious.  Is it because of the looming presence of Ashprihanal drawing closer or something else?

He says no.

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“The world has let me go.  Everything that was binding me has left.  Right now I am just a soul bird.  For a bird there are no limitations, no boundaries.  But I have a body and I do all I can and this turns out to be 70 miles a day.”

“I am not doing this for the records.  I am doing this to bring happiness to my soul.  To bring happiness to God and to be able to approach him faster.  This is why my speed has increased.”

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The body is the patient.

The heart is the sufferer.

The soul is the sympathizer.

God is the ultimate Curer.

Guru Sri Chinmoy

August 2, 2007

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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August 2… Lots of Prayers to Say and Miles to Run

“I think I felt it last week.  There was a point when I was able to do 100 laps.”

That point of course was when at last Kaneenika was able to see that she would be able to complete all 3100 miles of the race.  She is rightfully cautious as she expresses this optimism.  There is still the very real job of taking on the last 421 miles over the course of the final 8 days.

But last night she did 55 miles when she only needed to do 52.  Many, many, of Kaneenika’s friends and supporters are taking deep calm breaths now, though likely their fingers are still crossed and held behind their backs.

“When I could do over 100 laps my confidence came back.  I feel better now.”

“It is still not over.  There are still a lot of prayers to say and miles to run.”

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“The first part of the race seemed easy.  It was easy sailing.  So then after that it changed a lot.  I had to go more deep within.  I had to get more strength from inside.  It wasn’t as though I wasn’t getting it earlier.”

I then ask Kaneenika what it was like when she realized last year that she would not be able to complete the distance.

“It took me a while to accept it.”

She then relates a very powerful experience she had at that time last year when she saw right in front of her what looked like a movie of her life.  Scenes that all came, starting from the very moment she had become a student of Sri Chinmoy right up to that point in the race.

It was not in her imagination she says, but was projected right out in front of her.

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She says that the experience reaffirmed her belief in what she was doing.  “The movie showed me the real meaning of this race.”

“I am trying to be more tolerant… more compassionate….. more humble.  How to have more gratitude and also how to have more peace in my life.  I can’t say that I know how to do all these things by now.  I feel as though I am making progress.”

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I then ask for her thoughts on Surasa.  “I think that it is just the experience that we all are having.  I think this years race is harder for everybody, in some ways.   Surasa has always been an inspiration for me.”

“I used to watch her before I started doing these races.  I also did a few races with her and I experienced her doing her world record in the 1300 mile race.  I always admired her determination and her childlike consciousness and surrender.”

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Then Kaneenika describes an experience she had before she got to the half way mark.  She was running along the course across from Jamaica High school.

“All of a sudden I felt this peace descending.  It was so strong for me.  I don’t think I have experienced anything like that before.”

“So this peace is descending on me and I then I felt so much peace inside but also at the same time so much power and confidence.  That was very striking for me.”

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You can make the fastest progress
If you can say,
“I came into the world
To love God, only God.
I came into the world
To serve God, only God.
I came into the world
To manifest God,
Only God.”

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 194, Agni Press, 1993

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August 1… I Hope I Can Make It

I don’t usually ask runners questions about their day to day life while they are running.  My logic, if there is any, is that if they talk about their other lives it will be a distraction from the very real pursuit which they have to face here every day for 52 days.

It is not as though their thoughts don’t drift back into the mundane world from which they exist from time to time. But for the most part they all are immersed in a very real and unrelenting battle.  One which causes them to draw upon all their strengths and resources.  Particularly their inner lives.

The other day though I asked Vasu about his job.  Just what did he do when he is not pounding along the holy trail that circles Thomas Edison High school.  Which for him and most of the others for that matter so often appears to be their real heart’s home.

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Vasu told me that he works 12 hour shifts at a pulp mill 800km North of St Petersburg.  For 10 days he works the day shift and then for 10 days he works the night shift.  After that he has 10 days off and so goes back to his home.

So I asked him the obvious question,did he like his job.  He answered with the sweetest smile, “If I don’t like my job I lose my time.”

This means of course that I have never heard Vasu complain about anything.  Never grumble, never moan, never be upset.  If he ever does he must do it on the far side of the course when no one is looking.

This being his 5th time at the race he could easily find something to be bothered by.  Just a year ago he was poised to finish the race in 3rd place.  On this same day he had 3001 miles.  Proverbial inches from the finish line.

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Now this year he has 2740 miles.  261 miles less and about 4 days behind.  But his blister has kept most of his mornings down to a slow aching walk.  But eventually it relents, or the blessings from above come, and he starts to run.  He did 64 miles yesterday.

I ask first today, do you see the finish line.  “I hope yes.”

“This year there were times when I did not see the finish line.  But now I hope I can reach it.”

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Recently he has been receiving treatment from Kausal.  “He did very good and he has also helped many runners to run better.”  Vasu feels that Kausal is acting in a very real capacity to help the manifestation of the 3100 function.

“I don’t think anybody can do this race on their own.  This race needs team work.  Everybody is important who is part of it.  Someone runs, someone serves, somebody is a journalist and others come and see us and inspire us to run.  Everybody helps, this is team work.”

“Every year I try and do my best.  This year I also tried to do my best.  I think that the results of the race do not depend on us.  We can only try and do our best.”

I ask him about what is happening between Yuri and Ashprihanal.  “I think competitions is good if it can help them to increase their speed, and that they inspire one another.”

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I ask Vasu then about any memorable moments from the past 43 days.  He turns to me and he says, “You inspired me when I asked you one day if you were going off to the beach to run.”

“You told me.  No, my job is here.  My beach is here.  My everything is here.  Because the consciousness of the Supreme is here.  It inspired me so, so, much.”

*editors note.  A few words of mine can in no way compare to the humble and ceaseless dedication that Vasu and all the runners put in every day. How much inspiration they offer to the world is immeasurable*

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Little by little I must
change my life only
in God’s own Way.

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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July 31… I Am Very Close

“Everybody says that each race is different.  This race is absolutely different for me.  What can I say.  I had a wonderful easy first half and then this came.”

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“The thing is that I accepted it and it is like it is.”

We cannot know entirely the dimensions and depth of Surasa’s ordeal, which is now well into its interminable 17th day.  Up until that day, July 14th, when her body, or perhaps it is just her legs went into a tailspin.

She was speeding along at another world record pace.  Then her world suddenly shifted and the trail in front of her suddenly has grown steeper and steeper.

On this her 43rd day on the course there is not one caring person whose heart does not go out to her now as she struggles to make it to the finish line.  If you have been saying prayers for her recently I know you are not alone.  For I certainly have.

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Yesterday was a pretty good day for her.  She did 53 miles and this morning she is optimistic that she is moving faster.  She needs however to move a lot faster and it has to happen now.

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With 608 miles to go and 10 days in which to do it the calculation is clear now even for the most math challenged person.  It is 60 plus miles per day now or it will mean the finish line will be just precariously out of reach when midnight comes in 10 days time.

As we jog rhythmically along past the school, she questions if she could have not accomplished more in the last few weeks.  Answering her own question, she says, “I tried my best.”

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Recently it was suggested that she stay longer and this she has now done.  “I have stayed until 12 o’clock for the past 3 days.”

“But I am very close to the finish line.  I have to do a little bit less than 61 miles.  Today at least I am running.”

“But I am getting tired quite fast.  The heat absolutely.  The heat is really difficult.  When the sun comes up my energy goes down.  But in the evening I can run.  But the sun stays up until half past 7 and then it is too short.”

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“So it is like it is.  I am not sad………..Maybe I can do this?………….and maybe not.”

“I don’t think what happens is up to me.  I have tried my best.”

“If you can stay until the end of the race, no matter the result, it is still really something.  You have to be grateful about this.”

“I want to thank all the people for their support.  What they are giving to me helps me and inspires me.  It encourages me.  I think it is real progress that I can run today.”

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In my life of surrender,
Each step of my inner running
And each step of my outer running
I am offering, offering, offering
To my Lord Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 57, Agni Press, 1984

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