June 28: Beauty Of The Heart

When musicians come to perform near Thomas Edison high school in Queens NY, they are assured that their audience will be uniquely appreciative of anything that they play.

The audience, if you can ascribe that term to the 14 very weary runners here.   By now they have circled the school nearly 2,000 times each.  After 13 days of almost non stop hyper mobility, their senses are so acutely tuned to this world of theirs, that they often are aware of even the slightest of changes in it.

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Theirs is now a delicate awareness of the constant ebb and flow of humanity that swirls back and forth throughout their half mile universe.  And it is not just people than they notice.  They are also acutely sensitive of even the slightest change of weather.  A degree up or down, the air pressure rising or falling, or how the slowly shifting path of the sun  as it arches across the sky.

The brightness of daylight falling away accompanied by the descent of night slowly invokes the promise that the 18 hour day of struggle will at long last end.

The gathering darkness now fully promising that the inevitable hand of midnight will soon appear.  Then it just does, rising up with finality, and with no judgement or remorse.  The day is done and now the reward of 6 hours of full rest has at last arrived.

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This highly mobile audience listens therefore intently.  Catching notes carried on breezes from far away.  Sometimes distracted by car horns and all the other rumble and roar of the urban chaos, they can still begin to catch the threads of melody as their steps take them inevitably closer.

Than the entire fabric of music is theirs for quite a few steps.  A full phrase of words, a melody almost intact and then it all drifts away behind them.  Consumed once again to the dull urban thunder of the city noise.

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Larisa and Natalia performed for about an hour this morning.  I asked them why they came here to play.  “Our life is the beauty of the heart.  In our heart we can find harmony.  What the runners are doing here they can identify with.  The harmony and beauty of this music can enter into their hearts and can help them to run.”

Larisa says that through oneness with the runners they all can enjoy.  “We can feel optimism, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and inspiration. We are all together, only oneness.  One heart, one soul, we make one big heart together, this is what I feel.”

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Day 14 gradually evolves.

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Anna updates the board.

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Sarvagata had another simply spectacular day with 134 laps.  William found his legs again yesterday.

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Also there is a very special guest in the camp this morning.  Jesper Olsen showed up at midnight last night after more or less running here from Kennedy airport.  He is a good friend of Sarah’s and came to support her and the race.

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Jayasalini doing her morning stretches.

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Baladev turns to see what is causing all the excitement.

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Wonder of wonders Ray is here on time this morning.

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Yuri gets his shoes ready for the day.

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Start Day Fourteen

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It will be a gorgeous day to run.

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Nidhruvi gathering the sun into herself.

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She pointed to the board before she started this morning and saw 777.  “That is a good number.”

She did 107 laps yesterday.

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The magic of morning will slip away soon enough.

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Teekshanam had 104 laps yesterday.

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He starts the day with 774 miles.  A very good first time performance.

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Today the shadows left behind are bold and bright.

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Summer’s flowers emerging.

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Ananda-Lahari focusing on this sacred world of his.

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On one side is his pilgrimage and close by is such a different world that moves in a very different way.

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Ray did 64 laps yesterday.  By mid day today he will have circled this course 1000 times.

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He always seems to enjoy himself and together we sang an old song together.  “There is hole in the bucket dear Liza.”

He casts a great shadow even on a cloudy day.

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William has 13 full days of running under his feet now.

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He did 106 laps yesterday.  Hopefully with the cooler conditions he can get back to doing some of those bigger days.  He has 778 miles.

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Later today his first helper arrives.

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Jayasalini is remarkable.

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She was getting help for her foot today.

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She is running into a brand new world for her.  She did 109 laps yesterday.

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Then she gets up and goes.  Yes there is a great struggle.  She has 798 miles.

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But she also knows where to find the happiness as well.

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Life growing and going.

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So many are drawn here.  Perhaps they have a reason that they know.  Perhaps it is still a secret kept from their minds and safe inside their hearts.

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Sopan did 89 laps yesterday.

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He says about yesterday. “What a day! This morning my lower back was so out of place that when I start running my left leg would lock and wouldn’t want to move. A friend of mine Sanjay took me right away to a friend of his a chiropractor in Manhattan who adjusted me and fixed the problem.”  He was gone for about 2 hours.

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“My left leg muscles still feel weak as they took a lot of pressure the past few days from leaning too much on them… So I am walking in the evening as I know from experience it is good for the muscles on the next day. And one more thing I have gained .5 lbs during the last week and 1.5 lbs since the beginning of the race… Amazing!!! I must be doing something right.”

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Not hot not yet.

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Larisa and Natalia Play

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Shadows all day long.

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Vasu getting healed and getting better.

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He managed 113 laps yesterday.

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Always strong, always Vasu.

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Baladev looks strong today

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Baladev recites a poem he has just written.

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Getting closer.

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Yesterday he says he was sleepy all day.  He did 102 laps yesterday and 3 days ago he did 91.  2 days ago he did 110.

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“My only problem is when I am sleepy.  When I am not sleeping I am running.  Yesterday I finished at 11:30.”

Because he left a little earlier last night he feels better today.  “I was sleepy the first two laps and then I woke up and now I am okay.  It is the same thing every year.  In the morning I am very sleepy when I finish at midnight or close to midnight.  Then the next day I am totally dead.  I will finish at 11:30 again tonight.”

He says that when it gets to the later stages of the race he may decide to run a little longer to pick up more laps.  “For now 11:30 is my time to leave.” He knows when he leaves exactly how many laps he has run.

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“I don’t think people understand.  When you know your body, then you can easily feel what is wrong with it.  I had a problem on my left side recently and I knew it was because of shoes.  I was not cutting my shoes.  It took 2 days to heal and now it is okay.”

“You know when you are sleepy, normally at home.  You know.  You understand this feeling.  It is the same here.  You can try and run but you body doesn’t want to run.  You need sleep.”  He says that if a runner can get the balance just right than he will be able to run better and be happier too.

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“You have to listen to your entire being.  Not just your mind, not just your heart. You body is limited.  Some may think their body is unlimited.”

“Every year I learn more, I am still learning.  I am here only 6 times, I am just beginning.  I would like to be here every year for 30 years.  Then I will not be pushing my body.”  He describes the similarity a first time marathoner experiences when they push so hard and have such a bad experience that they never want to run one again.

“When you enjoy the run you can do everything.  Then everything is possible.  Be patient, patient, patient. This race is about patience.”

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He describes Pranjal as someone who pushes himself but at the same time is very aware of just exactly what his limits are and how to not to hurt himself.  Instead being able to produce the optimum performance each day.  “He is pushing when he feels his body is able to take the pushing.  He is the best runner.”

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What is wrong with that driver of mine?  The car was supposed to have been here by now.

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Sarah is doing great.  She did 116 laps yesterday.

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This young lady knows what direction she wants to go.

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She has no helper so takes care of all the little details herself.

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She has 828 miles after 13 days.

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She now has 77 more miles than last year.

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A powerful and inspiring presence on the course.

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Pranjal did 120 laps yesterday.  He has 840 miles 7 more than last year.

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An absolute inspiration to all.  William said the other day how much he admires him.  He saw that he might need to adjust his pace and stride just like Pranjal does.

As of last night at midnight he had circled the block 1531 times.

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Stutisheel did 123 laps yesterday.

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The immense depth of his experience shows.

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Balance, strength, and poise.

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Last year this time Yuri had 844 miles.  He now has 869 miles.

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He ran 125 laps yesterday.  The most he has run since his 2nd day here.

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Then how do you begin to explain Sarvagata’s performance here this year.

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He stops and stretches.

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Yesterday he again did 134 laps or 73 miles.

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He gets tired just like everyone.

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He likes small sweet dogs like most people do.

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And then he just goes on and on.  He has 86 more miles than last year.

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Of course the 2 mile race went on across the street this morning.

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It turns out that 30 years ago on June 26th the first Runners are Smilers  was held in Flushing Meadow Park.  Sundar holds up the talk that was given that day by Sri Chinmoy.

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He said,

“Today we inaugurated something very beautiful and very, very, very, meaningful.  I am extremely grateful both to the officials and to the runners.  Again and again I am thanking you from the very depths of my heart.  You all have my special love and gratitude.   I shall be very, very grateful if you can come regularly.  I shall offer you my heart of love and gratitude.  Unless you are severely injured, you should run regularly.”

2-mile3To the best of my knowledge the Runners are Smilers race has been held just about every week for the past 30 years.  It has moved from Tuesday night to its current time of every Saturday morning at 8:07.  The location has shifted here and there from Flushing Meadow to Alley Pond park.  It has been here around Jamaica High school for at least 20 years.

There may have been a few races missed here and there due to winter blizzards, and icy streets, and perhaps maybe even a hurricane now an then.  Bur more or less continuously there have been about 1,568 2 mile races since June 26th 1984.

The girls winner today was Antana in 16:28, Lyalya was third.

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Baladev recites the daily prayer.

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Enthusiasm-Awakeners

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The beauty of the heart
And the fragrance of the soul
Shall always defy
Human comprehension.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 38, Agni Press, 2004

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3 Comments to “June 28: Beauty Of The Heart”

  1. Francesco says:

    Hi Utpal,
    my heart is there with you all.
    Tahnk you

    Bring to the fore your hidden capacities,
    Not only to do something great,
    But also to become someone good.

    Sri Chinmoy, 13617 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 14, Agni Press, 1999

  2. Purna-Samarpan says:

    Thanks for your service Utpal, I called Sundar at the Race earlier.
    Just a technical detail: I am reading this on my ipad and as you might know apple phones and tablets do not support flash. So all the audio files are not playable. I guess there should be an easy wordpress solution to show the audios in mp4 or something, because I guess I am not the only one using something with an i. Purna-Samarpan

  3. Grahak says:

    Thanks for the post Utpal. Looks like there is some weird fencing up. Shame, you can’t pat the hedge on the Grand Central/168th St side, one of the runners favourite past times in that part of the course!

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