Courage to Answer

When the sky is bright and the air is fresh and warm it easy to see how and perhaps why 68 runners would choose to be part of this amazing world of self-transcendence running.  I am at the race now though in the dwindling seconds of a Saturday night, which in moments, will stride into the even inkier dark wet blackness of a dismal Sunday.  There is a constant drizzle sweeping down across the course, which is making threats that it wants to escalate into something a whole lot more cantankerous.

The great percentage of the runners have slipped away.  They have been pulled away by schedules and fatigue and perhaps for some, just to escape so briefly the relentless torment of rain that pitter pats upon your head and discovers mischievous ways to seep beneath your most protective gear.

The malicious pleasure of moisture is that if it hasn’t got you on the way down, than it will seep up into your shoes and socks from dark puddles that pretend to be shallow but when you splash down upon them they belie their true damp soaking power.

Yet in the heart of the great night, as I look out across the fields, there are still runners making their way here and there around the loop.  They continue to persevere because it is in this effort they are finding a joy that is only to be found by a chosen few.  This experience is just for they alone, who felt the call from within, and had the courage to answer.


He has every reason to quit and yet he does not.  Michel Gouin 49, from Drummondville Quebec, is here again for the 3rd time with his wife and son.  He is heading into his 6th day of running and he has been sick with a cold since the very beginning. Every time I have come to the race I have seen him out running but it was obvious that something was going on with his health.

Every moment he is out on the course is wife is there tirelessly supporting him.  He says, “I am doing my best.  I am not expecting anything.”  At the beginning of the race he says he was really hoping to transcend himself.  Now he smiles and says, “I just want to get to Thursday with the rest of the gang.”


We come around past the dark side of the lake and the brightness of the camp appears before us and is like a warm and inviting beacon.  He tells me, “I always enjoy coming back here.”

He is adamant about his approach to these incredible events and perhaps life itself.  “It is a part of life.  We have to fight all the time for something that you believe.”

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It is a place inhabited by champions of all kinds.  Whether they are running or helping.  Two of the marathon team directors that have been here every night not just this race but for years.  Sahishnu writes a story before he heads home.  Sandhani spots the runners in the gloom.
Pavel and Petr are of course 2 runners themselves.  In just 2 months their lives will become nothing but the 3100 mile race.

He hasn’t been back to this race since 2000 when he ran the 10 day race on Wards Island.  Markus Mueller 45 from Eagle Colorado has returned this time to take on the 6 day.  When he was here then it was to help him prepare for the trans Australia race which he did the following year.  He took 63 days to cover 2700 miles. The weather for that was extremely hot, much different than the conditions the race has this evening.

He also has come without a helper this year which he feels helps to find his own rhythm better. “I don’t need much. I am low maintenance.”  He feels that the support he gets here is so great he doesn’t need to do anything else other than run.  His goal he tells me is to just run consistently.  He does hope however to do a little better than 378 miles which would be one mile more than in his 6 day split from 10 years ago.  “We will see.”

He says that his interest in multi day running is for the mediation part.  “Here you have to think about running, nothing else.  These events are really tough they are not easy races.”  There is a real need to be in touch with your body.  There has to be a balance between how hard you push and what capacity you can actually bring to bear.

He believes that there will once again be a trans America race next year and feels this race will help in his training for it.  In Colorado he only trains on trails.  “I am happy to be back here.”

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“We are very fortunate in our medical tent to be able to use a lot of great natural remedies.”  Bahula has been the heart and soul of the women’s medical tent for decades.  It is not just that she sees that it is well stocked but as well she spends long nights here and then manages somehow to go off to her job as well.

There are many volunteers helping out 24 hours a day.  “We have a great team in the medical.”

When I ask about the leaves that the runners of the 3100 use so much I can’t see them.  Without a blink I am whisked into the next room where they are sitting in a glass of water.


Bahula looks a little exhausted but at the moment there is no one in medical at all.  She will be here for many hours more.  In the boys medical there is a body on one of the tables but it is not a patient.  Just a runner taking  a break.

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It may not have quite the charm of medicinal plants but a new piece of technology has become part and parcel of the race, a surveillance camera.  It is however not on hand to identify miscreants but rather to be able to double check for the possibility of any counting errors.  Medur explains that it is capable of operating night and day and under all kinds of conditions. It has not been used to often but it is an electronic safety net for both the runners and counters.


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Barney has been moving tonight at a pace that is somewhere between a hobble and a walk.  He seems to have acquired a bad ankle that has yet to make the shift back to allow him into running mode.  But like Vlady on the right they seem to be in the best of spirits.
Shashanka is one of those who seems to have done a good job at conquering sleep.  After 6 days he has 340 miles.  To keep the counters awake Rupantar uses an old fashioned strategy, Coffee and donuts.

“I started multi day races in 1986 so I have been doing it for 24 years now,” says Chanakhya Jakovic, 56, currently living in Slovenia.  He is also fairly certain this may be his 27th multi day race.  He seems to be carrying a bit of a lingering cold but he seems not bothered by it. “You start the race and you and you finish the race and what happens in between is what happens in between.  You just try and do your best, enjoy the experience, and share the experience.”

The thing that keeps me coming back is to have the experience.”  In shorter races like marathons it is more of a battle.  True they are warriors out here as well but there seems to be more caring and sharing one with another.  “It is something very special there is a real camaraderie.  You build real solid friendships.”

He says that his perception of what it means to transcend has evolved over time.  He says that for many the notion is that one performance sets a standard and then the runner comes back again to increase and expand upon their efforts.  For himself he just hopes to be receptive and try to always experience new things.  “It is almost an expansion of my inner self.  With every little thing I am learning and constantly transcending.”

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MY COURAGE

My body-courage

Dares to die.

My soul-courage

Dares to live.

My realisation-courage

Dares to surrender

Cheerfully,

.Unconditionally,

To God’s Satisfaction-Will.

Excerpt from Transcendence-Perfection by Sri Chinmoy

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