I hoped to continue my detective work at the race this morning. The burning question that continued to vex me, was how all the runners could somehow improve from Day 14 to Day 15 Sunday. I had no plan on using any third degree questioning in my sleuthing, because after all something quite remarkable had taken place. Still I found it puzzling that everybody’s laps had increased by a phenomenal average of 7 in just one day.
There first thing that surprised me when I asked about it this morning was that really none of the runners had even noticed. For them it simply wasn’t very important and, also it was a long time ago, a little more than 24 hours. Their collective responses seemed to be reduced to the patently obvious, we simply had a good day. Which is the ultimate blessing in and of itself.
The runners never have much time or interest to digest indescribable statistical anomalies. For even the best number crunchers this event will be soon quickly be buried under the constant deluge of data that pours into the record keeping books every day. Sahishnu is as good as anyone at recalling noteworthy numbers and events but I suspect that for most people it will fade quickly into beautiful glowing obscurity.
I recorded my conversation with Pranjal this morning and as I listen to it again now, I notice how I take my time in explaining to him all the surprising data and how it all added up. I thought maybe he might know how he was able to do 5 more laps. He said, “I don’t know. Perhaps it was a coincidence that so many people felt so good that day.” He adds, “my legs were lighter, I don’t know why.”
Then I laid out my theory about how the 4 runners who were going to make a thousand miles that day probably inspired everyone else. “4 numbers is really something. It is 1/3 of the race.”
Compared to most things in our current society the 3100 moves with a kind of snail like speed. When you look even just a little bit closer though you can be surprised at how beautiful it all is and how moving and inspiring it is on many different levels.
Perhaps the fastest things in the world these days is money, and how it never ceases to move at almost undetectable speed. There is something called High Frequency trading which involves trading of stock in fractions of a second, making fractions of a penny with each transaction. Mostly it is computers who are figuring all this out. People are always coming out with better and better computers and supposedly smarter software. All of this of course is invisible to the eye and maybe a small number of people understand it all.
What Pranjal understands today is that he is starting his 17th day of running 30 miles ahead of last year. For him on Sunday what was important was to complete his 1,000 miles even just a few hours faster than he had the year before. He tells me that 11 years ago he attempted his first 1,000 mile race and could not make the cut off, which was 15 days. “I always wanted to do it and last year I did it for the first time.” It wasn’t something that he was preoccupied with, but rather, a simple and personal motivation which by his perseverance he ultimately succeeded. His reward was something almost unrecognizable to most of the world. Yet he somehow managed to shave a few hours off a very tough goal. To him at least it was significant, and it is hard not to think he deserved it, when you consider just how dedicated he is to this long hard race.
When asked what mark he might be shooting for now, he says, “My goal is to run as much as possible every day. That is my goal. We will see what will happen. The most important is that every day I will try and give everything.”
A few minutes ago my phone rang, Stutisheel called to tell me why he felt everybody ran so well on Sunday. I was shocked because his timing was perfect, I was right in the middle of composing this article. I could hear all the traffic behind beside him as he was running along the Grand Central service road. It was a pretty amazing moment. The coincidence of him calling just when he did was truly phenomenal. He reminded me that Sunday was the 27th anniversary of the founding of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team. He said that because of this, blessings had come to all who were fulfilling the spirit of the marathon teams goal of self transcendence. I could not possibly come up with a better answer than that.
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Stutisheel, Igor, and Sarvagata continue to impress. The two rookies conquered the 1000 mile barrier two days ago for the first time and show no signs of slowing down. Stutisheel passed the through 1000 miles yesterday and is just 6 miles back from where he was last year.
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My first question to Igor was of course how he managed to run so well on Sunday. He ran 130 laps which was the most he had run since his first day here. He joked that I should consult with an astrologer. Like many he seems almost oblivious to the miles he has accumulated with such skill and dedication over the past 2 weeks here. It is really as though the next lap or even the next foot step forward is all that really maters for him.
I ask him if he is concerned at all about the board, the clock, or the calender. “Among the 3 the clock means the most because it tells me when it is time to go home.” (Laughter)
I suggest that he seems to be enjoying himself more and more. “When I have no pain than I really enjoy it. But if something is wrong than you really have to work on it. For example yesterday I had a stomach problem, and I set a personal record in visiting the toilet. By the evening all the energy was gone.”
I wonder what he might be discovering in himself, now that he he finds himself going further in a race than he has ever done before. “Actually I am surprised at the capacities of my body. The more the race advances the more all parts work together. I am surprised.”
Passing the 1000 mile mark on Sunday was significant for him. “Not so many miles remain now. Just complete 2000 more and it will be over.”
“I enjoy running with Sutisheel every day especially in the morning, because he is serving as a launch pad so that I can rocket higher into orbit later.”
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Recited by Surasa
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Expect nothing in return.
A sea of peace
Will most lovingly invite you
To swim in its vastness.
Sri Chinmoy, Peace-Blossom-Fragrance, Part 3, Agni Press, 1994.