6 & 10 Day Race …Day 2

Anyone who has ever run a marathon has probably experienced those nagging moments when your mind is bombarded by countless pointless thoughts.  Culminating in one of the most foolish, ‘Will I make it to the finish line?’

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Scanning mileage markers, checking on your impatient time piece, and seriously questioning your own ability to push through the nattering fatigue and ponderous doubts.  That experience, in one variation or another, most runners have endured.

Then, not much later, when the race is done, they question themselves.  Did they really need to go through that at all.  Then, wonder of wonders, did they not have more to give.

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The simple logic of a 10 day race should dictate that there is never any real demand or pressure to go on, because the real goal is to simply endure 10 days on the track.  The total mileage gained is up to each runner.  Yet we mortals are designed to push and test our boundaries always.  Aware often of what strength we think we have and then surprised when really challenged that there is so much more to us then tired legs and doubting minds.

That transcendence is an indisputable and irresistible part of who we really are.  Our true happiness is only gained when we reach and strive for what we cannot see within us.   Which is ultimately and inevitably what we also must become.

Ashprihanal Aalto ran 110 miles in the first 24 hours

ashprihanal2The score board tells a great story after 24 hours

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“I get taken care of.  I get fed.  My daughter is at home being taken care of.  All I have to do is run.  It is like a dream.”  (laughs) Karin McMillan has just expressed the feelings of many here at the 10 day race.  For it is a unique world unto itself.  A place like no other and one in which Karin and her partner Gino have trained and prepared themselves for.

It is not new for Karin.  She was at this race when it took place on Ward’s Island 15 years ago.  A lot of life and all its responsibilities, both great and small, have come along since then.  But the time is clearly right for her to come back and try it all anew.

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“I love to run, in fact it is not that I love it.  It is that I need to run.  It is who I am.  It makes me a better person.  It makes me a better Mom.  It makes me understand myself.  It makes me understand the world.  And it makes me so incredibly humble.”

Karin then tells me a story.  She describes how she and Gino had prepared for this race for a long time, putting in many big mileage weeks.  They also competed in the whole series of ultra races that took place in Ontario last year and were fortunate enough to win the male and female category of the whole thing.

She tells me that Gino is a much different kind of runner than herself.  He has a background in competing in triathlons and is not accustomed to some of the slower and methodical aspects of ultra training.  “He was fast.  He would go out and run, and it has got to be hard.  It has to be a challenge.”  What Gino realized from observing Karin is that if he was more patient with his training he would not only avoid injury he would also get better results.  “So he said fine.  I will try it your way.”

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Still when it came to discussing this race in advance she says he still didn’t fully understand what it really involved.  “He came with the idea.  You know I am going for first.  I am going to win.”

Reality came calling she says when his troubles started after just 40 miles.  “I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I can’t run.  This isn’t my thing.  I hate this.  I just want to go home.”

Karin tried suggesting a number of things and then told him he should go to Medical.  At first he told her, “I am packing it in.  I am done.”  She made a few more suggestions and then he eventually went to medical, where she says, “they set him straight.”

“He gets adjusted, chiropracticly.  He gets massaged.  He gets some vitamins.  He gets some advice.”  They tell him,  “this is just the first day.  There are a lot more days here.  Just see how you feel.  Rest for a few minutes and then they gave him a wool blanket so that he was nice an cozy.”

“He then comes out and tells me he feels like a million bucks.  I can’t believe it.  It is like night and day.  I don’t know what happened to me in there.  I feel amazing.  So all of a sudden he is back out and running.”

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Ultimately they discuss further the whole meaning of what had taken place.  She tells Gino, “I believe everything happens for a reason.” She gently suggests that in the beginning he did not really understand the concept of what it was all about.  “You came here believing you were going to come and be really competitive.  But what you learn is that things happen for a reason.  Sometimes you can’t always explain them.  Maybe what you had to learn here was about humility.  That you have to learn that if you truly want to be successful here you have to let that go.”

“You have to run and understand that if even if you put in the performance of a lifetime and come in last.  What you have to know that at the end of the day, that what you did to yourself, for yourself, was the absolute best that you could have done.  And if you know that then you have won.  It is that whole transcendence thing.”

She says Gino laughed when she told him this.  He said, “have you looked at the board.  I said no.  The only thing that matters at the end of the day is that I am proud of me.  If I am proud of me then what do I care about what other people do.  What I think of me is far more important than what other people think of me.”

“Now he is out here and he is running and he is enjoying it.  He has forgotten about what place he is in.  He has just decided now that he is going to do the best that he can do. In that process he has become a better person.”

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I then ask her to tell me more about her experience.

“What we are most afraid of is what holds us back.”  She then tells me that this is the first time she has left her daughter at home in 12 years.  “This for me is a really big thing for me to even get here.” She of course found someone to take good care of her daughter and ultimately realized that everything was going to be okay and that she was doing the right thing.  “A lot of my growth happened before I came here.  I couldn’t run well here if I didn’t take care of all that stuff before hand.  So for me to be here and enjoy my experience.  A lot of that growth had to happen before I got here.”

“I will have my ups and downs over the course of the race for sure.  You know, sometimes in order to grow, you have to be able to give.  You have to have enough to give and move on.”

Karin finished Day one with 71 miles

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I tell Karin that I of course, because of journalistic integrity, have to verify her story about Gino.

“It became very clear to me that all of these plans and ideas that I had prior to coming were completely thrown out the window.  I got to a point where I was so beaten down.  I felt so ill that I was ready to go home.  If it wasn’t for medical support, fantastic people.  A nice massage and an adjustment got me back running and I ended up having a fantastic day.”

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“It is funny, before we came, Karin spoke about everybody here wants you to succeed. They will pretty much do anything for you, and I got to experience that.  It was pretty awesome and it showed me that, you can’t do this on your own.  This sort of thing is not done by oneself.  It takes others to help.  It was pretty fantastic.”

“I have been in some tough races and been down and out and wondering why in the world I had decided to do it.  Then here I was.  Why did I do all this training?  Make all these plans?  Come to New York? Here I was ready to go home.”

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“Karin quietly watched and encouraged me to get some help.  It has all worked out.  I am sure there will be a few more times when I hit a few more rough spots.  But everybody is ready to help.  I guess that is the encouraging part.  That no matter what happens here there are people here who are going to help me get through it.  A fantastic experience.  I am very impressed.”

Gino finished Day 1 with 82 miles.

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It is about as nearly perfect a day for the race as it is possible to be in New York at this time of year.

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Gabriela Cotugno leads the women after the first day with 94 miles.

Getting some help with her number.

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Ananda-Lahari getting up from some shoe adjustments.

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Some shots of the camp last night.

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Perfect skies.

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Counters wide awake

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Nipura still preparing food.

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Mario in medical.

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Bipin’s village nearly complete.

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Now it is Sunday and the park is full of many others.

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Rinat catching a cold wind

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Sarvagata getting some encouragement from a friend of the race Chris.

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Wei Ming Lo is in 3rd.

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Vinati receives some food and a little poem from her helper.

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So many experiences

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Staying focused.

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Subala had 57 miles her first day.

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Shamita had 84 miles.

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The trees will soon have buds.

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Sahishnu out cleaning the course.

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Doug Kewely is a 63 year old runner from Adelaide who puts on his own 6 day race there.  He tells me he has been going to many other races around the world to see how they are all set up.  He started this race but unfortunately has had to pull out.

He has been to South Africa, Athens, and Adelaide can’t create some of the infrastructure he sees here because they simply can’t get enough volunteers.

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Adrian is close by and they both had met at the race in Monaco.  “He suffered terribly with blisters and I was really amazed how he kept going.  Even though he was suffering he was still running.  I was totally injury free, so I was very impressed.”

Adrian is currently working on some blisters.  “I am amazed at how much my feet have swollen.” He says that he has brought extra large shoes to accommodate this but is not worried.  “I am going to let my feet calm down.  I am going to stay here and do the best I can.”  He adds, “It is beautiful here today.  You couldn’t ask for anything better.”

As for Doug he had a very hard race in Athens he took part in just 6 days ago.  He feels that a fall he had an a recent recurring ankle injury made it impossible for him to continue.  “I thought I was okay yesterday morning.  But after 6 or 7 hours the pain came back.  I just walked the rest of the day and night.”

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“I have been running marathons for 30 years.  I have done over 100 fast marathons.  I have accumulated over 100,000 miles of running.”  As for multi days he says he only began to compete last year.  This is his 5th race since he first started in July.  He says that the great Australian runner Cliff Young who competed late in life was an inspiration for him.

As for the future he has another race in Hungary in just 17 days.

Adrian finished his first day of running with 71 miles.  “To be honest I would like to do 100km a day, on average.  I felt good, I was awake.  I thought keep going if you feel good.  Why not.  I know there is going to be times when you go through bad patches, maybe an hour and maybe a day.  I thought, if I can get the miles now it takes the pressure off of having a bad day.  That is one thing I learned from running in Monaco.  If you feel good that just keep staying out there.”

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Adrian is really in awe of just how many great runners are in the race.  “The resumes of some of these guys is just phenomenal.  It is certainly an inspiration.  To be on the same track as them is real honor.”

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Lots of flowering trees.

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Kids playing on the course.

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Paramanyu

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Trees and bridges

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Nirbhasa had 85 miles his first day.

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Karnayati had 64

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Everybody moving at their own speed.

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Some moving not right now.

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Michel had 65

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Kaneenika had 88 miles

kaneenika2The course at night

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Janos had 71 miles

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Some girls singing for the runners….and enjoying ice cream.

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Gudrun

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Hubert had 85 miles for his first day.

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Daulot ih his first 10 day race.

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“So far things are going quite well.  One could almost say perfect.  I am very happy to be here.”  Ilvaka is a real veteran of this race.  “Last year I had a quite a powerful experience.  I was trying to stay peaceful inside myself and that is what I am also trying to do now.  So far it has worked out. It has been a nice experience.”

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She says that she has not been paying attention to her mileage.  She ran the 6 day race once and this is now her 7th 10 day race.

She describes that simply by being here at the race, “you can become a better person.  You have a chance to deal with so many things.”  She says that these are both the outer and the inner things.  Ultimately you have to deal with yourself and whatever is there.  The key of course is to be happy while doing that.

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She believes that being here is the best part of her year.  “It is the most intense and I just enjoy the life here to the fullest.”

As for running the 3100 mile race she says it has to feel right inside you first. “You have to feel right.  You have to feel ready, and then you just have to come and apply. Whatever happens happens.”

To feel peace she says the answer is simple.  You have to stop thinking so much and concentrate on your heart, and not worry about anything.  “Then it comes.”

“At the race it is just so much more intense.  That’s why we can learn so much more about our every day life.”

Before I leave the race this number goes up next to her name

ilvaka-100

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If your mind wants to challenge something,
Then let it challenge peace.
If your heart wants to challenge something,
Then let it challenge love.
If you want to challenge something,
Then challenge perfection.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 97, Agni Press, 1983

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5 Comments to “6 & 10 Day Race …Day 2”

  1. Baridhi says:

    Man, when I listen the interview of the runners I feel such wisdom. These races are so close to spirituality. I’d say they represent spirituality itself. You learn so much… Sri Chinmoy did a great service to humanity by creating and encourage them.

  2. Francesco says:

    Thank you Utpal,
    great job runners and helpers.

  3. Tirtha says:

    Yet another spiritual pilgrimage for all those amazing runners!! And we all benefit so much from it no matter where we are – thanks to these amazing interviews, pictures, thoughts – every single day… The runners efforts and all our oneness make this world indeed a more beautiful place to live in!! A big *Thank you* to all the runners and helpers and a big *Thank you* to Utpal!!

  4. Gangane says:

    It is priceless to get these daily updates!
    Priceless!

  5. Suren says:

    What an event! Everything about it is deeply inspiring: the participants, helpers, organizers and the journalist! Where else in the world will you find this?

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