June 21: Survival

“I am just trying to survive.” Pushkar has clearly been shaken by the conditions on the road here yesterday.  They are dramatic words but also it is a dramatic time right now here at the race.  It is almost as though it has only just begun and the weather has erupted with its own spicy brand of fiery New York weather hell.  Day 4 will likely not be long remembered as when the race teetered on the precipice of a weather catastrophe, because that dubious distinction has already been won hands down last year when the weather got so hot that the race was forced to shut down for a day.  But June 20 was a bad day and today, June 21 just might prove to be its equal in ferocity.

What makes this weather situation so acutely trying is that it is in the first week that the runners try and attain their most efficient rhythm and flow.  Tune their bodies to the pounding here, and adjust all their habits and schedules that make their overall daily running performance operate smoothly.

Right now that is an impossible dream, one that has evaporated in a hissing cloud of steam.  Just drinking enough water and digging up the strength and resolve to go on one lap more is about all they have.  Every one of the runners save one had their mileage totals drop significantly yesterday on day 4.  The lone runner who actually did better was Arpan who miraculously discovered that a daily massage would keep him moving better.

We all cannot help but be concerned and sympathetic for the runners on days such as this.  Locally today it became a regular and almost worn out phrase as so many people grumbled about how hot it is and than added, “yeah, but imagine how the runners feel.” On a practical level it would be grim to imagine the weather clamping down upon us for many many more days when there are still thousands of miles yet to run.

Most certainly it won’t, and likely by Monday the world will push us back into a more sympathetic and typical weather pattern.  Yet in the great scheme of things positive and powerful inner experiences will continue to happen here no matter the what the weather decides to serve.  The numbers will come and go like the birds that flit on and off the fence and hop from one branch to the other.

The transformation of each and every runner has already begun here in the deep and unfathomable depths of their hearts.  Happening invisibly to most of the by-standing world but also richly revealing itself to the one for whom the transformation is gradually unfolding.

No one can divine or formulate the elixir of experience that will bring about our inevitable self transcendence and transformation.  Whether it be peace or or be pain, or any of the other innumerable experiences of the heart and soul. The most important thing is to at least begin the inner race. For without that the goal will never be reached and won.

“This survival of the fittest.”


Spencer referred to the struggle to survive in the material life. But how to be the fittest in the spiritual life? By making oneself a conscious instrument of God’s Vision and Will.

Sri Chinmoy, Philosopher-Thinkers: The Power-Towers Of The Mind And Poet-Seers: The Fragrance-Hours Of The Heart In The West, Agni Press, 1998.

Getting ready for a long hot day

Today’s board is horrific only when compared to the stats from the other days.  To put it in a clearer perspective, just how bad it became yesterday, imagine Pranjal, the first to come and last to go leaving almost an hour earlier than usual last night.

Start Day 5

I had only one real question that I wanted to ask Pradeep and it is one that had been nagging at me from the moment I knew that he would return again.  Last year his experience was almost like a perfect fairy tale.  He was a first timer who had never shown he really had the capacity to run 3100 miles and yet he managed to complete the distance on the last day and went home to a hero’s welcome.  Why would he want to even try it again?  Of course I pretty much knew how he would answer but did enjoy more making him laugh when I mentioned the question.

“It was such a beautiful experience.  When you finish I guess you forget the pain and everything.  I felt some inner joy with the prospect of doing it again.  I translate that inner joy as something saying inside me that I should do it again.”  He describes this motivation as something that had already begun last year running here.  “I didn’t want to think like, O do this once and then never again.  Because that is kind of negative reasoning.  Right from the start I was thinking I will do it again next year also.”

“After this race I will mediate on it again.  But last year I felt right from the beginning that it was the right thing to do.  This is a journey you embark on for more years.”

“I don’t think my body quite agreed with my coming back here.  Just before coming here to the race I got really sick.  I couldn’t eat for 3 days.  Here right from day 1 my body tensed up like anything.  Like, O no, not this again, so I am trying to hang in there and see if it can relax.  I feel inwardly joy at the prospect of doing this and being here.  Somehow I can’t quite get the body in line with that.”

I am curious how it can be joyful when it is obviously so painful.  “Sometimes you don’t have joy.(laughter).  Then there is always more levels.  There is even, if you are suffering like anything, and you cry your eyes out.  There is still a kind of satisfaction there.  Because you offer it to the Supreme, even if it is hard, and it doesn’t quite go as you imagined it.  Still you offer it.”

“It is not like a mental thing.  Some times you are suffering for a while and you get so helpless, and this helplessness you offer from someplace deep inside you.  Because there is not any more any mental concept.  Sometimes when it gets really on the edge of what you can handle than this helplessness has its own kind of satisfaction I guess.  You offer it and put yourself into the bigger lap of the Supreme.”

“Everything has its own time.  I could be in my health food store but why not be here now.”  After being here for days the faces of the local  people and their pets and the time they come and go each day has become routine to Pradeep by now.  Some are familiar to him as well from last year.  He says, “that is what they do and this is what we do.  Everything has its place in a kind of bigger rhythm.”

For the moment at least the picture for Pradeep on the surface of things is not particularly promising.  He is not feeling completely well, his knee hurts, and the weather is really hot.  I ask how he feels.  “Well, that is very tough.  There is no way to brighten that picture really.  It goes from 22C to 37C.  That draws all the mineral from your body so your muscles are kind of tense.  If you have anything wrong then you will feel twice as bad.  Then you come home, and I don’t think any of the guys slept too much.  At night you get cramps and pain, you don’t really sleep.”

“It gets worse and worse and worse and then at some point you start feeling really helpless, and then there is a sincere offering.  Then again there is some satisfaction in there.  That I have.”

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Sometimes there is traffic on the course

2 Twosomes

  Poem of the day recited by Sanyogita and ParvitiClick to play

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Enthusiasm Awakeners

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Here on earth our life is a constant battle; we are always in the battlefield of life. Even unaspiring human beings are constantly struggling for survival.

They are trying to satisfy their animal needs and their human needs. When they are struggling, that means they are fighting against something in order to achieve what they need or want.

Aspiring seekers also constantly fight. Fight against whom? Against their own nature, against their doubt and fear, against anxiety, worry and imperfection. At the end of their journey they will be crowned with triumphant success.

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

April 24, 1974; 10:00 a.m.

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 5, Agni Press, 1974.

2 Comments to “June 21: Survival”

  1. Sarvadhara says:

    Thank you, Utpal, for your service. We are far away from the race but you give a chance to feel oneness. It’s so important for me personally. Every day I wait for a new portion of the race spirit.

  2. Laura says:

    Survival. A very interesting topic to explore.
    Texas is of course hot. Maybe I’ll go outside for part of my evening exercise just to relate to you guys.

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