6 & 10 Day Race… Day 3

No one would ever say that watching a multi day race is the most exciting thing to do, particularly on a bright Spring day in New York city.  The one mile loop of the Self Transcendence race meanders around an odd corner of Flushing Meadow park.

With just 53 runners stretched out along the course, the action at times for spectators could generously be described as ……slow.  For most park goers on such days they might not even notice that a race is going on.  Preferring instead to catch up on their reading.

park-lady

The most important spectators are of course the runners themselves.  As the days pass they become increasingly more aware of just how each one of this small group is doing.  Taking inspiration when someone is running strong and alternately, feel the harsh reflection of the pain that others are at times also enduring.

Early this afternoon I just happened to watch as Ashprihanal Aalto crossed the finish line.  What caught my eye as he passed was a particular glint of satisfaction as he looked towards the board.  For those who know anything at all about this gifted world class athlete they might have wondered why he even looked at all.  After all he still has 8 more days to run.

For a man who has run the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race 12 times, how could anything go up on the board that he has not seen countless times before?

ashrpihanal

What mesmerized Ashprihanal was the number 200 beside his name.  A quantity of miles he was able to achieve in just a little more than 48 hours.  Something this 43 year old Finnish distance runner has never achieved before in all his years of competition.

So if he looks over to the board and grins just a little.  We shouldn’t be surprised, for this is his expression of absolute satisfaction and transcendence .  No doubt, for a while at least, when each of the other runners pass they will also enjoy seeing that great round number hanging beside the name of the man in first place.

ashprihanal-2

But then their eyes will no doubt shift to their own names.  Gather some inspiration from what they too also have achieved over 2 long days.  Enjoy the briefest of pauses before stepping off into the seemingly eternal, another 8 days more.  Ultimately each runner here is their own competition and the their own spectator for the race of their lives.

This is the board at 48 hours

board

It was once again a nearly perfect day at the course.

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“I planned on doing 3 marathons a day and that is what I actually have.”  Hubert is right on schedule and it is clear that all his preparation and training for this race has paid off.  When I see him today he has just taken a shower and is getting ready to go to the medical tent for a massage.

Hubert

“I found that the 2nd day was much more difficult then the first day.  I think that the next days will also get more difficult.  So maybe I must change my plan and maybe say 100km per day.”  I ask if changing his goals is a problem for him.  “No, it is just an experience.  You can’t seriously plan for the result.”

meical-Hubert

Something else has surprised Hubert since he came here.  He did not originally think it was even possible to do a 10 day race without proper training.  “Now I see that many people just walk.  This is totally different, and they are doing a good performance.  Just by using their minds and their willingness.”  He also notices that the untrained also suffer a lot.

medical-hubert2

“There are about 10 good runners in the field as well.”

“Sometimes you are able to do Ultras because you can do it from your heart and from your mentality, and others have to train hard.  I am one who has to have hard training to do that.”

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Kaneenika is leading the women after 48 hours with 163 miles.

kaneenika-sign

Gabriela from Argentina is not far off with 158 miles.

gabriela

Ilvaka is in 3rd with 156 miles

ilvaka-curb

Each runner though looks upon the race and what they want to achieve quite differently.  Sandro is elated when I speak with him at his chair.  “The thing that has happened is that I have just passed the 100 mile mark.  It has been an amazing experience from mile 1 to mile 100.  Happy all the way.”

sandro3

He had been here last year but the experience then was different.  “On the running side it was a bit more challenging. Still I had lots of fun and joy.  That is why I am here again.”

I describe all the difficulties that he has had to endure both this year and last and ask how that something so difficult be fun.  “I don’t understand it either.  I take one hour at a time.  That is all for me.  As long as you have joy for one hour that keeps you going for the next one.  It is fun the whole day.”

sandro

Daulot is close by.  “It is a beautiful course.  I appreciate the black birds, the breeze, and the lake, and the other runners.  There is always something fun.  It is great, it is a perfect course.”

He ran the 6 day last year and I ask him to compare the 2 races.  “I am in the now man.  I can’t think back.  I don’t think about it because if you do it is like a heavy back pack.”

I suggest that living in the moment is a goal for most people, and wonder, why it is not possible the rest of the time.

Sandro says, “Here it is easier because we are all focused on that.  We can manage.  In daily life we are taken away from that.  Here we just do that and I am grateful.”

daulot-sun

In talking about the next 8 days they both suggest it has no meaning right now.

Daulot, “you look forward to crossing that starting line.  That is what draws me forward.  Crossing that line, seeing the banner, hearing them call my number.  That is what keeps me going.”

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Adrian has 100 miles for 48 hours.

adrian

Ales has 126 miles.

ales

The counters have lots of good help these days.

counter-lakshmana

Devashishu calls out the names of the runners.

counter-devashsishu

Meanwhile his brother Sahadeva is helping with the board.

counter-sahadeva

Suparna from Munich is running in her first 10 day race.

flower

“It is going very good.  It is my first 10 day and before I have done the 6 day 3 times.”  I ask if she notices a difference between the 2 days.  “I don’t know because today is only my 3rd day.”

I ask her why she first wanted to compete in the 6 day.  “I love running all the time, and I have read all that I could on the 3100 since 2005.  At that time I started running the 100km races.”

She describes just how much she enjoys the camaraderie of being part of the race.  “The spirit of the runners altogether is very great.”

suparna3

“Now we have nice weather so it is easy, but at night it is cold.”

Suparna has completed 112 miles in 48 hours.  “Last year I started very fast and I had shin splints by the 3rd day.  This year I have decided to start slowly, and to go through without any injury.”

“The most inspiring thing that happened to me was last year when I really suffered with the pain.”  She then heard a voice within herself say, “you are a good child.  It was so great for me.”

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A shift change at the camp

shift-change

Shamita has 143 miles after 48 hours

shamita

Andrey with 122 miles

sergey

Paramanyu has 129

paramanyu

The kitchen crew always busy

kitchen

Maria has promised strudel for later.

kitchen-maria

Marius has 115 miles for 48 hours.  He officially now is going further and longer in a race then he ever has before.  “I will be celebrating after 10 days because my goal is 500 miles.”  He is happy with his pace so far because if he can maintain this same rate he will be able to achieve his goal.  “For me it is good.”

marius2

“During the day I don’t like the weather too hot.  Normally I go out at 10 o’clock at night and then run until 6 in the morning.  (laughs)  There is nobody there.  Everybody comes only after I am nearly finished.  During the night it is more fresh.”

“For me the first 24 hours was tough.” (he did 67 miles)  Day 2 he did 48.

Now though he already has 17 miles in the bank should tough times return.

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His friend Michel from Quebec goes by and I ask him why he is not out on the track all night as well.  He jokes, that he is there, but Marius can’t see him because he is on the other side of the track

michel-and-marius

For fans of Gino and Karin, their respective mileage after 48 hours is 140 and 119.

karin-and-gino

A beautiful day for sure.

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2 visitors to the park.

park-dog

Kumar is doing very well with 156 miles.

kumar

Dandelions are blooming.

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“It is not really as bad as it sound.”  I have just discovered Nirbhasa in the medical tent.  He has 152 miles for 48 hours.

“Basically it is like the beginnings of a shin splint.  I am still able to run.  I am basically trying to head it off at the pass.  I have had it since this morning.  So I got some work done on it.  So I have been going a bit slower today.  Trying to stay happy.  Focus on a positive state of mind.  Will take it from there.”

medical-nirbhasa

“Maybe I went out to fast in the beginning.  It was 83 or 84 miles.  Realistically I was thinking 75 miles.  But I couldn’t get to sleep at all.  I rested for about 3 and half hours.  Then there is kind of nothing else to do but be out on the track.  So I probably should have kept the opening miles a little more conservative.  But what can you do.”

nirbhasa2

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Peter and team

peter-and

One of the runners favorite places.

wide-board

Sergei has 113 miles

sergei

Making a phone call on a sunny day.

park-man

Pati has 145 miles

pati

Lots of help in medical

medical

Gudrun with 109 miles

Gudrun

“This is the 2nd time I have done the 10 day race here in New York.” Giribhu from Berlin has just completed 124 miles and appears to be doing very well.

When asked what she remembered about her race last year.  “It is funny.  I forgot about the pain during the race, and now I can feel it again.  But I feel also that I have never left this place but that I am still going on.  It is a nice feeling because then you feel this eternal journey which Sri Chinmoy talks about.  You never stop running and walking along this road for eternity.  It is new this feeling.  It is hard to describe.”

Giribhu

“It is only really about the inner race and not the outer race.”  She describes that of course you have to concentrate on so many outer things here but at the same time, “So many things are happening inside.  You can’t describe.”

“I think after the race, weeks and months afterwards, I remembered things.  I recognize that things had changed.  I was thinking so many times about this race last year.”

Last year was her first multi day race and she immediately picked the 10 day event because she realized that it coincided with her 10th anniversary of being a student of Sri Chinmoy.  “It came from inside.  I never thought of doing the 6 day, it was always the 10 days.”

This year is also the 50th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy coming to America.  “This is also one of the reasons that I have come again.”

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flower2

Always I transcend and transcend.
How?
Just by competing only with myself.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 15, Agni Press, 1999

2 Comments to “6 & 10 Day Race… Day 3”

  1. Francesco says:

    Thank you Utpal,
    many smiling faces, nice weather, running, is perfect!!!
    Enjoy and have fun.

  2. Ken says:

    Thank you so much Utpal, you are bringing me back and reliving the beauty, the transcendence that is our universe. Wish I was there, silly as of course I said as many do “never again”, but now I know I’ll be back…

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