April 29th….The Finish Line

“It’s been amazing.  It has been like everything.”

Gautami and her sister Manoshri have both been running the 10 day race.  With just a short time now left they are running together and sharing with me some of their experiences over the past 10 days.

Gautami: “It has been a mixture of everything, everything possible…..experiences, emotions.  It was great for sure.”

Manoshri: “There were ups and downs.  There were times when you felt you were just so tired of running.  You don’t want to run any more and you take a rest and wake up and life is good again.”

Gautami: “For me definitely the pain tolerance improved.  (laughs)  I walked with shin splints for 3 days and nights.  I almost overcame it.  I still feel it but I have been running on it for 2 days.”

“For me it becomes a meditation when I run.  It is not just a silent meditation it is dynamic meditation.  You feel lots of gratitude at times.  Many times I actually cried with gratitude.  There is a silence you have in the mind.”

“There was one day when I had so much pain, and the wind was really blowing.  I actually visualized that my body was the wind.  It was a really cool experience.  The pain just all went away.”

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The girls received constant help from Mom

Manoshri:  “You go through hard times when you almost want to give up.  But you feel, I should keep going.  But when you go through this you feel so much stronger.  You develop qualities like will power and determination.  Then you feel so much satisfaction.  You feel stronger and happier.  It helps you to become a better person.”

Kobi is the men’s champion in the 10 day race with a personal best of 750 miles.

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He surpasses his previous best by 52 miles.

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The finish line is at once
  Blissful to see
But painful to reach.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 01, Agni Press, 1998

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Photo by Bhashwar taken at 24 hour race 1980

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April 28th….It’s Like A Miracle

“I am very happy to run this race.”  Last year Tatiana Arnst was here for the first time.  She did however see very little of the running part of the race, for she spent hour upon hour helping others in medical, giving massages.

Now after 5 days she has completed 215 miles.  But the number of miles she completes here in 6 day are secondary to something that cannot be counted.  “It is a special experience.  It is very very important for me, in every aspect.  For my outer progress and for my inner progress.  For everything.”

“I am very happy.  It’s like a miracle for me.”

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Nipura and her kitchen crew have done an incredible job.  Take a step inside the kitchen on their last day preparing hundreds of delicious meals and snacks.

The crew comes from many different countries and not all appear in this picture.  They are Maria from Hamburg, Gerda from Salzburg, Harikanta from Moscow, Madina from Kazakhstan, Surudhuni from NY, Prageeti from New Zealand, Shvastanee from New Zealand, and Kshema from Ukraine.

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Miracles
Do happen
In every human life.

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April 27th….Life Has No Limits

“The result so far is amazing.  It is going really really well.”  This is 44 year old Johnny Hallenby’s first 6 day race.  After 4 days he has 348 miles. He is just a few miles outside of first place but is not concerned.

He has had a plan of running exactly 87 miles a day and he is sticking to it.  His success in the race is in no small measure a tribute to his partner in this adventure Ellen Westfelt.  Who as we are talking dashes over to his table to get him something as he heads out onto his next lap.

Johnny says he is most surprised that he has time that he had not anticipated.  “I can make mistakes but I also have the possibility to correct them.  There is some slack in the schedule.”  Johnny is also very focused on breaking the Swedish record for the event which is 486 miles.  At his current projected rate he should have 522 miles by noon on Friday.

He and Ellen are also aware of the course record of 540 miles which at this point is not out of the question.  Johnny looks very comfortable as he walks smoothly along at his current pace. His goal of completing 87 miles for the day is now within easy reach. “I don’t have to run fast.  I have to run a lot.”

Ellen says that they are both enjoying the friendship and support of the race community that is here.

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Johnny believes that Swedish people are fascinated with events like this.  “This is an extreme sport.  You can always get inspired by people doing extreme things.”

“Ultra running in itself isn’t that big, but it is growing tremendously.”  The longest race currently being held in Sweden is a 48 hour race.

When asked if he will inspire other Swedish athletes he says, “I actually want to show that you don’t have to do what everybody else does. There are no limits in what you can do.  You just have to be determined.  I hope I can inspire others to do that.”

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As we reach the far side of the course we come up on John Geesler.  Johnny asks John to say something wise. “I think it is terrible how he is showing up the old timers.” (they laugh) John is 57 and has 294 miles.

“He is doing a great job.  Not just the speed but also the consistency. His plan of 87 miles a day and he is sticking to it.  He is a very awesome runner and you will be seeing more of him.”

Johnny runs away and says, “I am having a nice time.”

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Life has no limits.
It is the mind that creates
Life’s so-called limits.

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April 26th….No Unreachable Goal

“O my God Susan is doing amazing.”  Hridayinee has been helping Susan Marshall for the past 2 days.  She is a 32 year old runner from Christchurch New Zealand and she really is doing well.  She has 163 miles and is in 3rd place in this her very first 6 day race.

“Susan has not complained once.  Anything I give her she takes.  It is so easy and she is doing so well,” adds Hridayinee her enthusiastic helper.

“She hasn’t had any pain, except for the bottoms of her feet.”  Susan contradicts, “I have got a bit of other.” (they both laugh)

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“I did have one nice experience yesterday.  I was just coming through the whole painful experience.  I was sitting on a bench and there were so many people around.  They were blocking the entire pathway and I was standing under this tree.  The most beautiful tree on the course with pink blossoms and a little boy comes up to me and gave me a flower.”

“It was really really sweet.”

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If we believe in our own
Self-transcendence-task
Then there can be
No unreachable goal.

Sri Chinmoy, No unreachable goal, Agni Press, 1994

Photo by Bhashwar

Photo by Bhashwar

Sri Chinmoy congratulating runners after a 24 hour race in 1980

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April 25th…. Inside My Heart

“Its been very good.  I have really enjoyed it.”  After completing 2 days Vikena Yutz from Columbus Georgia is leading the 6 day women with 142 miles.

This will be her 4th 6 day race but the first time that she has come to Flushing Meadow for the Self-Transcendence race. “I have wanted to do this for 4 years.  It just worked out that I could come this year.”

“When I started doing multi days I read about this race and another one, and that is what inspired me to do them in the first place.  To come here was very important for me for that reason.”

Vikena says that 18 time champion Dipali Cunningham was also a big reason for her coming here.  “I was really sad to hear that she was sick.  I was afraid that I wasn’t going to get to meet her.  Because she has inspired me, and helped me without even knowing it to do what I do now.”

When I ask Vikena if numbers on the board matter to her.  She says that for the most part she is running for the simple experience of participating.  “I would like to have a goal that I would like to meet, but I am just trying to stay inside.”

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She has a dedicated team supporting her and Vikena is also impressed with the presence of all the other runners and helpers.  “Everybody is so joyful and happy here.  It is a unique place and I really like that.  I think it is how I envisioned it.”

I have only
One thing to do:
To stay peacefully
Inside my heart.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 47, Agni Press, 2006

May 16 1985, Sri Chinmoy with Fred Lebow at 1,000 mile race in Flushing Meadow.

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April 24th…..Changed My Life

“My main goal in coming here is to get inspiration.” This is Arun Bardwaj’s 3rd appearance here at the Self Transcendence race in New York.

“On my first time here, from the very beginning I was feeling happy.  I had nothing in my mind.  No worries.  I am feeling in my best physical condition this time.”  Currently Arun is tied for 5 th place with 81 miles after 24 hours.

“No Fear.”  Arun is appears confident in what he is doing.  He says that in Indian scriptures it is written that we should not have fear.  “When God says don’t be afraid.  Why should we be afraid?”

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“Definitely these kind of events inspire me.  I am inspired by the great runners in the race.  Ultra running has totally changed my life.  My way of thinking and everything.”

“I feel lucky and privileged that God has put me into this field of ultra running.  I must say that everyone should at least do once in their lifetimes  a 6 day race.”

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Take up the challenge
To change your life
Once and for all.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 28, Agni Press, 2002

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Half marathon put on by the Sri Chinmoy marathon team in 1980

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April 23rd…. Enjoy All The Great Things

The 6 day race is less than an hour old.  I spend a few minutes running lightly with David Luljak who has not been to the race in 7 years and also with Wai Law who ran his first 6 day race here last year.

They are getting acquainted and of course realize that in the many miles ahead they will probably learn a lot about all the other competitors but perhaps even more about themselves.

I ask what kind of things they have discovered so far, and they both laugh and say that at one time they both lived in Long Island.

David tells me about one of his favorite poems written by Sri Chinmoy.  “He said to somebody during the 3100 mile race.  When this person was having a particularly bad time.”

Dave and Wai-16

Perfect happiness
      Is
Enthusiasm minus expectation.

Sri Chinmoy, The God of the mind [songbook]

“I thought that was a good thing to keep in mind.  I love this race, and if I don’t expect too much than I won’t feel disappointed.  And hopefully enjoy all the great things I think about constantly whenever I run these races.”

The 10 day race of course goes on while the 6 day is about to start.  Richard Takata celebrates getting to 200 miles.

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Albena is doing her 2nd 6 day race.

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Sri Chinmoy at the start of the first 7 day race.  October 14th 1988

ckg greets runners

Whenever we do small things
With great love,
God gives us the most
Powerful and blessingful Smile.

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April 22nd… When I Share My Happiness

“You always hope for a little better than what you are doing.”  Sarah always has the bar set for herself very high, and for good reason.  She has won the 10 race here 3 times and is one of the best women’s multi day runner in the world.

“I wish I had put in a little more training.  But I have no complaints.”

At the end of 3 days Sarah has 213 miles, just 2 off the 215 completed by Manoshri.

“You always come with a lot of enthusiasm but you tend to forget just how hard it is.  You definitely have these really tough moments.”

“I just love the friendship out on the course.  I think it is this shared experience.  I keep thinking that every year.  You could never do this on your own.  It is the fact that we are altogether doing it.”

“Every day I am setting a new target and every day I am failing.”  (laughs) “But what can you do.  That is when the surrender part comes in I guess.”

Richard rushes in to make his 3 day total 168

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When I share
My happiness,
I multiply it.

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April 21st….Everybody Smiling

“My plan was to achieve 192 miles, but I got a little carried away.”  Kobi is a just little modest about his achievement at the 10 day race as he describes his results after the first 48 hours of the race.

A few minutes earlier, just before noon he completed 200 miles.  He jokes that in the days ahead according to his plan he had no more round numbers to achieve.  Though the number 700 seems very tempting to those of us who have watched his strong performance the past 2 days.

The above film also has an interview with Soren who completed 135 miles.  He has had some stomach issues but feels good today.

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“I am very surprised it has been very nice to meet this hospitality.  It is an extremely good race with all this support and everybody smiling,” said Soren.

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Ed is in 2nd place with 181 miles

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I smiled in my mind.
Everybody ridiculed me.

I smile in my heart.
Nobody ignores me.

I shall smile in my soul.
All will love me.

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April 20th….Everything Must Change

At 12 noon today  the first 24 hours was completed, and so Day 2 began.

Yolanda is very happy with her 24 hour total

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Completing that first 24 hours is a big step for all the runners.

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Everything must change,
But it has to start
From deep within.

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