Today marks the first day of summer for several billion inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere. For most of us, these astronomical calculations are significant markers for many of our life’s plans. Both the summer and winter solstice often has a major affect upon our strategy and attitude about the coming weeks that lie ahead. No doubt on some deep and molecular level our bodies also make some small but significant adjustments to the amount, or lack of light, that we do and we do not receive from the sun. Let us not forget also, how the moon’s orbit subtly pulls upon us as well. In other words, as the universe moves around and about us our physical beings have no choice but to be uncontrollably caught up in the swirl and flow of nature’s rhythms.
To the 11 runners at the 3100 mile race the arrival of summer is just one of the many things, that we judge to be important, and yet has no particular significance to them whatsoever. Ultimately they are not immune to the push and pull of the cosmos, but the only true orbit they control themselves and consider of any real importance, is the continuous motion of their own bodies circling around the loop. They need to make at least 110 laps on the course before they can even think of slipping back into the warm embrace of sleep.
What gathers more importance as each day passes as well is the relationships between the 11 who run here. How with each new lap and each new day the 3100 family finds strength and support from one another.
Right now, as the sun begins its journey downward, gradually sinking lower and lower each day beneath the equator, an epic struggle for first place is shaping up. Just one minuscule mile on this first day of summer separates Petr and Ashprihanal. In any other sporting competition they would be combatants, but not here.
Here, like in no other race they are instead brothers. Ones who are pushing each other forward in order to reach the exact same goal, self-transcendence. They joke and kid and inspire one another, but wish nothing but the best for the other. For how well one does will also motivate and encourage the other to continue to do their best as well. Try to take away from someone else and you take away even more from yourself.
At one point this morning Stutisheel is running with fellow Ukranian Vlady. After 8 days of hard running they are but 27 miles apart. Stutisheel hands me his phone and asks me to take a picture of them both running together.
When they see the photo they laugh with joy. For it is only in a picture that they are able to see themselves together. See themselves with their eyes as they so easily feel how close they are together in their hearts.
The weather on Father’s day was no gift to the runners. It was warm and muggy all day and it took its toll. The bad news is that it looks as though it is going to get worse and those 90 degree days that were so scarce last summer may have decided to come back with a vengeance.
Pranjal has been battling some new blisters as has Pushkar. The other day before the start Pushkar even had to take a needle to one before he put on his shoes. Both daily apply the special blister leaves to their feet before they run.
Many of the mundane practical things take place first thing in the morning. Rarely are things done hurriedly, because none of the stiff runners, who are just a few short steps from sleep can possibly move too fast. Sometimes it is an opportunity for a few kind words.
Laundry is always a regular priority.
A Wold cup discussion goes on most mornings. Purna Samarpan will wear his German jersey again in 2 days. They have won one match and lost another.
Start Day 9
He tells me that he has never sweat as much in his life before as he did on Sunday. He said that he did not believe it was even possible to perspire so much and the conditions just never let up.
He ran the race for the first time last year and says he was inwardly very happy to have been able to have had the experience of running the 3100. “For my body it was really difficult. Back home I did not run for maybe 3 or 4 months.” At the same time the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction stayed with him for a long time.
He says that even as he crossed the finish line last year he knew that he had to come back and do it all again. “Everything about this race is in my life.” It may not always be obvious but he says that even in the background he finds himself preparing himself for the race. Whether it is financially or physically, in fact on every level it becomes his goal to be able to run.
He says he came and ran the 6 day in the Spring to both check to see that he had fully recovered and also gain even more training. He had some doubts because he had not fully applied himself to running again until February of this year. “Now I feel that I can really push, that I can give it the gas.” (makes a sound like a speeding car)
“This year I run a little better, more steady.” He feels his day is more organized and that he is less stiff and also able to get more mileage done in the evenings.
He says that he averaged 70 miles a day during the 6 day. When it was suggested that he take it easy he disagreed. He felt, how would he know if he was ready for the 3100, if he did not apply himself fully in the 6 day.
Completing the race was for him something unimaginable. He says for 10 years he believed, “if I can do this race I will be God Realized.” His realization did not take place but he describes inside of himself a feeling that was so special. “I felt gratitude and inner happiness. This was the most different thing.”
He says that now that he has done the race he recognizes the connection he has now with the others who have run and continue to take part. It is only the runners who have taken part, who have the opportunity to fully receive and be one with the complete 3100 mile experience. “If I am changed, I don’t know,” and with this he laughs in the light, joyous manner, that is pure Vlady way.
“I am the Worlds longest distance.”
Song Composed by Sri Chinmoy
Performed by Enthusiasm Awakeners
The planet sun
Grows old and cold.
The inner sun
Remains birthless and deathless.
Is under the planet sun.
Is within my inner sun.
Excerpt from Eternity’s Silence-Heart by Sri Chinmoy