August 3: Our Tasks

“Somewhere in the middle of the race I felt as though I had fulfilled my task here.  I am not coming back next year, but maybe in the future.  I am very grateful because I love you all here.”  35 year Atmavir Spacil said this last night after completing the Self Transcendence race for the 7th year in a row.  His has been a long and incredible journey that very few have ever accomplished before.  Taken back to back his total mileage on the course adds up to 21,700 miles.  An accumulated distance that would nearly allow him to circle the globe.

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His battles with the elements over all those summers and all the other of the countless difficulties has shown just how courageous and determined Atmavir really is.  Just to enter this incomprehensible event is astonishing, to finish 7 times is miraculous.

As he approaches the finish line his face reveals all the joy and gratitude he has for being so fortunate to be able to accomplish this really unbelievable feat.  But those few minutes of brief glory here now on this warm still night are such an infinitesimal fragment of the whole great journey.

What goes on in his body, mind, and heart over the many months is the real story.  Finding strength when your body says it has no more to give.   Not listening to the relentless torment of pain, heat, and fatigue.  Managing to find calm and peace when by times the world around you seems to be nothing but turbulent chaos.  He has said many times that nobody but the runners themselves really understand this remarkable transcendence adventure.  It is an elusive reality that I have chased for a long time and know he is right.  I will never capture it all or even more than a small part of it.

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No picture, no sound bite, no string of words can encapsulate something so immense and impossible as this thing that they do, and what he has done now for each of the past 7 summers.  At best we see a watery mirage floating enticingly in the sky above the vast hot desert.  We see it and imagine quenching our thirst with its elixir but we can’t.  The 12 runners are the ones who are traversing across this boundless landscape towards the impossible.  It is they alone who are arriving at a destination we ourselves can only dream of.

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After his finish he is asked by a reporter from a network station a few questions about this great thing that he has accomplished here.  He is grateful to share what he can, but there isn’t much he can say in a few words.  Something that has taken him 7 years to accomplish.  He says that if there is anything he hopes could come out of his experience is that others be inspired to transcend their own lives.  He suggests simply, if you can just get people to run that would be a great thing.

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“Finishing in 2nd place in the 3100 mile race for 2013, in a time of 47 days, 16 hours, 24 minutes.  Which is an average of 65.015 or 104.6 km a day.  This is his 7th finish in a row.  From the marathon team and all the helpers congratulations Atmavir on a job well done

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My responsibility is
The preparation of my heart.
God’s Responsibility is
The Satisfaction of His Heart in my life.
Can we not fulfil our respective tasks?

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 50, Agni Press, 1982

Photo by Bhashwar

Photo by Bhashwar

Rupantar’s van arrives and has 4 passengers.  Quite possibly tomorrow it will have one less.

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It is a dull and overcast day.  A pretty good day to run.

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The board shows that Ashprihanal has just 66 miles to do.  He says, “the old Ashprihanal could do that.”………

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The start

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With 2 less runners the course starts to look and feel a little lonely.

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Ashprihanal yesterday had a pretty average day.  103 laps.  But he has been looking stronger of late.

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He has overcome a lot here in the past couple of weeks

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A very familiar friend has arrived to encourage him this morning.  suprabha who has run this race 13 times

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There is a look in his face this morning that is very reminiscent of the Ashprihanal of old.

ashprihanal

pranjal is getting more tired every day but still getting in the miles.

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At times he looks to be asleep on his feet.

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But he is simply always relentless.  He did 110 laps yesterday.

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Sarvagata is a most interesting one to watch.  I still see so little.

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He makes me feel that at any moment he could find that elusive strength and run powerfully again.

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He did 95 laps yesterday.

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It was Yuri who set the pace yesterday and ran 113 laps.

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He is moving along solidly all day.

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With the weather promising to remain like this he should not have a problem with the heat.

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sopan will most definitely be here until the end

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To walk all day long is not an easy thing.   Especially when what you really want to do is run.

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Some do not mind the walking but at least for Baladev he can run sometimes as well.

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His new diet has helped to make him stronger.

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He wrote a poem about Canada for me yesterday.   Today he shows even more appreciation though that it is not a maple leaf.

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He greets one of his many fans, Snehashila.

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Then it is simply back to the still long road ahead…4 more days.

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Ananda-Lahari went from 123 laps one day to 77 the next.

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Yet these mysteries he know cannot be solved by thinking and dreaming…..Only by going on.

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Sarah was just happy to be here at all yesterday.  With her flu she managed 32 laps but is doing her best today.

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Surasa came back to earth… or at least a little.  She had done days of 116 and 117 and yesterday she did 112 laps.

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“I really don’t understand this what happened.  I didn’t even feel that I was so fast.  When I saw my mileage I was so surprised.  I have no idea how it worked, that I had 117.”  She doesn’t know if she has ever run that many laps so late in the race before.”

“When Vasu was finishing it was so touching.  It is always this way especially when the first one is finishing.  I am crying and crying like anything.  But for myself it is not so touching.” (laughs)

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I then ask her a stupid fashion question, which is why she and Nidhruvi are both wearing the same color.  She says it is just a coincidence.  Admits though, “it is interesting.  We are different.  But somehow I don’t know.”

At this moment Nidhruvi is just in front of us so I sprint up to speak with her.

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Nidhruvi’s answer to the wardrobe question, “sometimes it happens. We choose the colors we prefer or we desire, or we need.  It is funny.  It is the first time that we have the same colors on.”

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I ask her about Vasu’s finish yesterday.  “I was crying the whole time.  Even when I was running here I was crying.  For me the special thing was when they run with the flag.  This was for me the most touching moment.  When I see them from afar running with the flag coming into the camp, then crossing the line.  This is so moving for me and also last night for Atmavir.  It is such a beautiful feeling I cannot describe.”

“Now we are so close, Surasa finishes on Monday, and Yuri and I will finish on Tuesday.”

As we are talking Surasa who is just behind is gradually getting closer.  I suggest that Surasa is either speeding up or she is slowing down.  “no, we are kind of the same.  Either she is in front or I am, it doesn’t matter.  She finishes one day earlier.  I have to do one and half days more.”

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We joke about Surasa will be having a coffee and Strudel while Nidhruvi will still be running.  Nidhruvi says, “actually we have to stop drinking coffee.  I have never drunk so much coffee as here.  But it really helps to stay awake, and I am very very sleepy.  Surasa is much stronger in the sleeping part.  She sleeps much less than me, and is still so strong.  I never see her staggering around like a drunk like me when I am tired.”

Surasa: “But I am feeling it in the late afternoon.  No, no, you are not behind me.” (laughter)

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They have been running together in multi day events for many years.

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Surasa will also run laps with another lady this morning.  Suprabha is the only one besides her who has run this race up until this year.

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Both Vasu and Atmavir show up this morning.

vasu-board

They both run the 2 mile race.  Atmavir runs 12:55 and is 3rd.  Vasu a little slower in 14:55

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Nidhruvi and Sylvia read today’s prayer

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prayer

Enthusiasm Awakeners

parvati

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Although
I did not fulfil my task well
In Heaven,
I did not resign.
Why?
I felt God-light would eventually
Give me the needed capacity.

Although
I do not fulfil my task well
On earth,
I shall not resign.
Why ?
I feel God-Compassion will undoubtedly
Give me the promised capacity.

Sri Chinmoy, Europe-Blossoms, Agni Press, 1974

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One Comments to “August 3: Our Tasks”

  1. Vandya says:

    CONGRATULATIONS ATMAVIR! Bravo everyone!

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