June 22: Small Victories

“Sometimes when people see us running maybe it looks to them that it is just easy running.  We are going slowly, no problem.  But it is not like this.  Every lap is a fight.  And when you complete each lap it is a very small victory and each day when you finish it is also a victory.”  When 37 year old Baladev Saraz started his 7th day of running here he had so far accumulated 688 of these small victories or laps of the course.  Not very many perhaps when you consider he will still have to complete another 5,000 of them in the 45 days he still has left here.

baladev

As someone who gets to observe the race each day I have the luxury of pausing and examining the runners from countless vantage points all around the loop.  Every day I try to find a slightly different location, uncover a fresh perspective and to hopefully reveal something new and inspiring.   Attempt to see and understand this incredible story of self transcendence as it unfolds.  The extraordinary thing is that no matter how much I look, and ask questions, and ponder the impenetrable immensity of if all I hear something new and amazing every day.

wide-corner

There are of course 12 stories to be told and though all are unique, what Baladev said this morning is most likely true for each of the brave runners here.  That each lap is a victory.   By now there are perhaps 50 or 60 individuals who have contributed some small active service to the race.  The continually rotating cast who sit behind a stack of clip boards and with sharp pencils keep track of those laps.  Still more who have spent long hours making food, cleaning up, giving medical assistance and otherwise helping in the almost endless ways that make the great roller coaster of life here keep rolling.

wide-silouhette

Yet no matter how much you help and serve, or sing or clap and cheer along the way, we cannot ever really know how precious those solitary laps really are.  How their slow and steady accumulation brings a runner just a fraction closer to their goal, which is still thousands of miles away.

It was many hours ago now as I am writing this that Baladev spoke about those small victories.  I am sitting back in a comfortable chair and trying to make sense of something that is really almost impossible to grasp.  I am not sure if over the course of my day I had even one small victory.  Sometime late tonight Baladev will have completed probably about 110 of them.

Every small moment of victory
     In pleasing God
Is of paramount importance
     In our life.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 26, Agni Press, 2002

Photo by Bhashwar 1979

Photo by Bhashwar 1979

Ashprihanal once again ran more than anyone else yesterday.

ashprihanal-car

Yuri comes on a bike and today has laundry to be cleaned.

yuri-bike

Sarah doing some foot work

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Race director Rupantar doing some paper work.

rupantar

Shoes and shoes and shoes

shoes

Start

start

For now the days continue to be fresh and bright.

flower5

Atmavir is currently the race leader and has a slim lead over Vasu.

atmavir5

Vasu is just 3 miles behind and is doing extremely well.  Yet he did one less lap than Atmavir yesterday and so a gap can expand into something no longer infinitesimal.

vasu2

All 3 from Oneness Dream Boat Shore

vasu-sarvagata-and-yuri

“I feel good.”  Baladev is here for the 5th time.  In his 4 earlier races he completed the full distance once in 54 days and 14 hours.  He describes that the first time he saw the race something deep and profound took place inside him.  He was able to help out for about a week and then flew back home to Slovakia.  On the plane he could feel himself weeping as he thought about what he saw.  What he felt of course was that he would come back every year and run it himself.

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It has not been an easy task for this natural athlete.  Someone who seemed to excel at every sport he attempted and yet multi day running is that unique sport that for the most part seems best suited for the tiny and small, not the strong and gifted.  One obstacle he only discovered last year was that he has a dietary intolerance for wheat gluten, sugar, and dairy.  “Last year during the race I started the new diet.”  Something he says that he has continued since then.  “It is perfect for me not having sugar, because even from my childhood I was eating too much sugar every day.”

baladev6

“Every day is very hard, but every hour is a blessing for us, but it is not easy.”

“I love this race and I must be here every year.  When my body is healthy I have no worries.  This is the best part of my life.  I think not only me but also runner who comes back is happy here.”

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Some bicycle repair work

jagadata-and-bike

Surasa and Nihdruvi have so much in common in their lives. They are only 11 miles apart.

surasa-and-nihdruvi4

Nihdruvi ran 114 laps yesterday.  She only ran more than this on her first day.

nihdruvi2

The 2 mile race was held this morning and brings its delights and its distractions.

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A distraction of another sort was an appearance of the fire department responding to a small fire.  The hydrants were not used just tested.

fire4

Most are not distracted by all the little events that happen here and there.   Ashprihanal ran 130 laps yesterday.

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Of course the counting never stops.

camp

Sometimes distractions cannot be avoided and yet you can continue to run nonetheless.

sarvagata-and-phone

Yet for Sarvagata who is clearly getting stronger there are few distractions.  He ran 121 laps yesterday also his best day since the beginning.

sarvagata

Helpers like Sylvie are constantly on their toes and do not often sit and slip into their own worlds.

sylvie

Yuri continues to be impressive.  He ran 115 laps yesterday.

yuri

His courage of course is noticed by everyone.  The family of runners grows closer as they make more and more miles together.  Today Atmavir gave Yuri a shirt he says because of his bravery.

yuri-and-shirt

Surasa blends into the morning sun

surasa2

Sarah shows her experience and her strength

sarah2

Pranjal is simply so committed and seems to be better every year.

pranjal4

No school today and even then only a few days more.

floweer

Sopan has 5 days in a row where he ran 113 laps.

sopan2

I tell Ananda Lahari that I have just heard a poem that Baladev has written dedicated to him.  He says, “it is beyond all words.” (laughs)  What impressed Baladev just as it has impressed others is simply how consistent and strong Ananda Lahari has looked this year.  He ran well when he came this Spring and ran the 10 day race.  He says, “I can still feel it.”

ananda-lahari4

“I think this race is different.  I think you can recover and get stronger during the race.  Now it is working well.  I am doing about 60 miles a day, which is the mileage you need to finish the race within 52 days.  Hopefully I am having the training now for the later part of the race.  Because one month from now we will still be here running around.”

“So now it is kind of like struggling.  Sometimes when I see the people running around, like they come for the 2 mile race or they just come by I see they are running properly.  I think, why don’t I run in this way.  Why am I crawling.  This is not normal what I am doing.  They are normal, so I believe I will get to the point when I am running properly.”

ananda-lahari8

“I don’t know if I remember it well but in 2005 but Sri Chinmoy said, they are suffering so much but their souls are dancing and dancing.  On one hand it is a lot of pain, and it is really hard to enjoy pain, but on the other hand you know I am happy definitely.”

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Ava, Roxy, and runner

ava-and-roxy

Prayer of the day

prayer

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Enthusiasm Awakeners

parvati

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The body’s victory
Is often
The soul’s tremendous loss.

The soul’s victory
Is always
The body’s amazing progress.

Sri Chinmoy, The Wings Of Light, Part 17, Agni Press, 1974

flower10

2 Comments to “June 22: Small Victories”

  1. Francesco says:

    Thank you for another great page of inspiration!

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