June 30: The Inner Race

“I am doing so phenomenally well that, I shouldn’t be allowed to be here.”

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Over all his long and joyful years of running, Ray Krolewicz has run more miles, gathered more friends and admirers, and found more joy and fulfillment in his life than just about any person you will ever meet.

He has been here on this rugged little track now for 14 days and if the Ray K’ites haven’t come out here at one time or another to run and walk with him, then he has talked with them on the phone, been texted, or he has been sent regularly a thick wad of, ‘Way to Go Ray’ emails.

There is an infectious charm and wit to this bearded, shirtless, wonder from South Carolina.  The exact numbers of runners that he has encouraged, trained, and entertained has never been recorded or made note of.

But even after just a few days out here in this distant corner of Queens there has been a constant trickle of Ray K fans and followers that have thread their way through the 5 boroughs, and numerous nearby states to come and be at his side.  To run, to listen, to maybe get a word or two in, but more to just enjoy being with Ray who is now doing what he likes most to do in life, and that is run.

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He makes no bones that by nature he is competitive, but he also wants others to do their best and to also find their own joy.  His is a happy life and he is also one who is generously trying to make a happier world.

Some time today he will pass the 1,000 km mark.  A great point of reckoning for most ultra runners but it is also one that bluntly reminds Ray that there are still another 4,000 unforgiving kilometers still to be endured.  “I am suffering probably less than anyone else in this race.  But also more than I can transcend.”

There is no runner here who does not at one time or another have to confront their perceived limitations.  Whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  For a few days now Ray has found his pace diminished to something that looks like a shuffle and at other times like a walk.

He is tired, he is hurting, and he knows that it isn’t going to get any easier any time soon.  Why this is so he says, “maybe spirit over physicality.  Maybe I am afraid to dig deep and find out if I can be as cheerful, if I were in more pain.”

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“I have been asking myself these questions for several days.  If I were hurting as bad as some of these other runners.  Heh, I have foot pain, I am not using that as an excuse.  I am trying to let some things heal. People say, it takes time. Ok.  If it takes a couple of weeks for guys who have done it before maybe it will take me 3 weeks.

So I am trying to take care of myself.  But would a Ray Krolewicz who has a 1000 miles in and was grumbling, cross, and irritable. Be more of a preference than a Ray Krolewicz who has only 600 miles in and has a smile, a song, and a story to share, each time someone comes by.”

 

Sr Chinmoy at 24 Hour 1980 photo by Bhashwar

Sr Chinmoy at 24 Hour 1980
photo by Bhashwar

A Question that was asked of Sri Chinmoy about his ultra races.

Sri Chinmoy: This creation is not mine. It is God’s creation. Again, I am absolutely sure that God does not want anything that is good to disappear from His creation. Today He has inspired me to serve ultra-distance running. But if He sees that I am not doing well, or if He has had enough experiences in and through me, then He can easily choose another instrument. But I am absolutely sure that God will not ask human beings to give up long-distance running.

“Run and become, become and run” — this is the motto of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. Something that is good in God’s creation will always last; it will only make progress. From time to time we may see setbacks, but eventually it is bound to flourish.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 32, Agni Press, 2002

It is another great day here though it will be more humid.

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Yesterday Sarvagata and Yuri stepped into the 1000 mile club. Today another 4 will most definitively join them

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William arrives with his usual enthusiasm and perhaps a little more.  He is trying to sort out a bad calf and suspects that it may be caused by an electrolyte imbalance.  He had a good day of 109 laps yesterday and still had time for an adjustment and a massage.

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Yuri is not moving out of the camp any time soon.

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Counting tables are ready.

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Bhadra gives some tips to a new counter a little later.

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Vasu arrives.

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The girls getting ready.

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Sarvagata had another spectacular day.

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Rupantar asks Yuri if his tooth is any better.  The answer a thumbs down.

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Sarvagata grabs a few precious minutes of rest

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The sun rising over the Slovaks….and Moldovan.

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Start of Day 16

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It is hard not to see the beauty and feel the peace here in the mornings.

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This morning Ray went around the course quite a few times with Ananda-Lahari.  Someone who has completed the distance 5 times but also has set quite different goals on 4 other occasions.  He is once again not likely to make it before the cut off and I wonder what Ray might have learned from him as they walked.

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“I am learning from him.  If you noticed we spent some time together and shared some stories.  He says it was sometime last week that he started to get the full measure of the experience that he was having here was going to be.  “It is then that I started realizing that this transcendence isn’t as easy as it looks on a sign board, this self-transcendence 3100 mile run.  You must work at some of these things.  You do have to go inside.”

“So I have spent some time inside and I have spent some time outside.  I have spent time watching birds and watching people and watching cars.”  On the far corner of the course at 168st there has been a broken traffic light there now for a couple of days.  “I have been watching how polite and how nice and how kind people are being in crossing this intersection.  Which is now essentially a 4 way stop sign.  How they are adapting to a different situation.  It is a microcosm of what we runners are doing here.”

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“Every one of us has a different situation every day in the sameness of what we do, every day is different, and we all adapt to it.”

This 3100 mile race is so different than every other ultra race I wonder if other distance runners can understand what is happening here.  “I think they can because you do this, and I am as competitive as anyone else.  I would like to win.  I would like to win every race.  I would like to be competitive here.”

He describes the focus and concentration you need to do this race is not much different than doing a 100 mile race.  “It is simply all this compressed.  You know pain, the focus, the discomfort, the concentration.  So once you are moving, and there is a beginning and an end you are  moving and you are trying to be competitive, and do the best you can.”

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“There can be only one person who finishes first.  So the rest of competition comes between you and yourself and previous times.  The strategies differ.”

He compares how he is doing here at least at this moment as to that of a high performance car operating on 7 cylinders. “So I am not going to be competitive, but I am still learning things.  Hubris dies hard.  I have never had the kind of blisters that I have here.  But I have never been on my feet 15 days.  No into my 16th day.  So I am learning things that will help me in future competitions.”

He mentions how 30 years ago this week Yianno Kouros set a standard in ultra distance running that was shocking to most runners.  Ray says that for some his many performances were just so good that they said, I will never be this good, and simply retired.  Others said, “you know what, I am going to give it a try.  I am going to work hard. Back in the 80’s we called it the Kouros effect.  He was so good and so strong.  Everything from 100km to 10 days.  Does he not still hold the record for 1000 miles.”

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“There are runners here who will bide their time and run their best strategy.”  This he says in reference to this race and how Sarvagata is now creating a phenomenal lead and is gaining ground on everyone else.  “Every race you dole out your resources and try to get to the finish line first.”

“There is nothing in wholeness of spirit or love for fellow man that says we can’t set records and do the best we can.  Sri Chinmoy himself taught us that.  With his records and with his pushing for these kinds of things.  His support of people who were out setting records.  In so many ways.”

Click to Play Interview: 

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A glorious morning in a hard but beautiful place.

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Ananda-Lahari now has 725 miles.

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The first summer leaves have started to fall.

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William looks better this morning as he sets off.

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He doesn’t go fast as he is being careful with his calf muscle.

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Tim from Manchester has been a good addition.  This morning he is trying to sort out the exact ingredients in one of the supplements that William is taking.

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Not much confusion in a cup of early morning coffee.

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William has completed 875 miles.

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The hot days have yet to come.

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Going up hill to the corner of 168th st.

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Teekshanam had a good day as well yesterday.

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His 109 laps yesterday gives him 896 miles.

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Flowers and feet and cars.

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Nidhruvi went home last night with 900 miles.

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Last year she had 4 very tough days.  She is 5 miles ahead of last year.

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Sopan is so talented and determined.

flower-sopan“Ananda-Lahari has often inspired me when I ask him “why do you keep coming back to the 3100?”

He replies “because of the inner cry this race brings forward”. Last year I had a glimpse of this experience during my most difficult time the last week of the race… Mostly because of this experience I felt inspired to come back I really felt the inner progress of becoming a better person at that time.

Now as the race progresses I feel how this inner intensity increases. I have been walking all day good pace with one break at 3 pm as I cannot run due to my old “friend” the lower back problem.

Tried first time yesterday compression socks… These things are awesome!

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Compression socks definitely more popular.

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Did you get my lap.

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Small things count

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Small things are beautiful and strong.

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Last night was a big one for Jayasalini when she reache 900 miles.

Photo by Sarvadhara

Photo by Sarvadhara

She takes a drink

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She did 109 laps and looks determined and happy both.

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Always more to discover.  Much more.

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What time does the game start?

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Baladev still doing very well.  He has 924 miles.

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More than you think

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Vasu flew around the course with his stick again this morning.  It made him so happy.

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He did 113 laps yesterday and has 934 miles.

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Sarah so consistent.

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She ran 110 laps and seems so within herself.

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She will make 1000 miles early this evening.

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Stutisheel had a very good day of 118 laps.  He will also make 1000 miles today.

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Always patient and always focused.

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Always able to find a little joy in the boy.

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Pranjal knows his way around here.

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“This is the kind of race that will make you humble.  It teaches you humility.”

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“You can come with the idea that you are strong, mentally and physically.  But the race always takes everything from you.  All the strength that is in your mind and in your body.  It makes you go to your deepest.  There are times when you say that is it.  But that is also why people come here. To find what is inside them.  Not only physically but also on the inner plane.”

“The pain will go but your experiences remain with you.  This is something that you can carry all the time.”

Today I will cross 1000 miles but I still have 2000 to go which is like crossing Europe.”

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Despite the problems with his tooth Yuri pushes on.

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Late last night he completed 1000 miles and then went on to do 2 more before midnight.

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Photo by Sarvadhara

He did 121 laps again.  He has had no big problems.

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Such a great runner.

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He is having so many experiences and inspiring many others with what he is doing here.

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11 hours before Yuri made 1000 miles Sarvagata did.

 

Photo by Sarvadhara

Photo by Sarvadhara

 

Who knows yet what he will do

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Hw sis 132 laps yesterday or 72 miles.

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So beautiful to watch in so many ways.

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“Not a week ago.  I came by the race for the first time this morning.  I saw all the people running around, and I said, What’s going on?”

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“So I said, let me see what is going on.”  So Dora Alvarez, who recently moved here from the Bronx and now lives nearby decided to drive over towards the camp.  She parked and Parvati who was coming along started to explain about the race.  “She was so kind and gave me a brochure.”

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“So I went to the car and started reading about it.  And I was just so surprised.  So instead of going on I decided to see more.”

She is very animated and excited, “amazing, amazing.  I am like you never know people can do this, and for 52 days.”

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“The Self-Transcendence caught my eye.”  She read something that Sri Chinmoy was quoted as saying in the brochure.  “Every day you wake up is like the first day of the race.  That I think is so important.  It is like do everything in your life like it is the first day.  Do that with the same enthusiasm.  It is 2 things, combining the mind and the body.  You can apply that in every part of your life.”

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Ray recites the daily prayer

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Enthusiasm-Awakeners

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A smiling face
Wins
The inner race.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 31, Agni Press, 2003

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3 Comments to “June 30: The Inner Race”

  1. Francesco says:

    Hi Utpal
    thank you for another great page of inspiring news.

    Self-discipline
    Is the only thing that can expedite
    Our inner journey and our outer journey.

    Sri Chinmoy, 44044 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 45, Agni Press, 2006

  2. Sarita says:

    Thank you Utpal for giving us a window into this beautiful and powerful world.

    The golden children are beaming out to us and the world, helping us all make progress.

    Your photos are beautiful, your captions charming.

  3. Purnakama says:

    Continually inspiring! I love the some of the photos of the last couple of days (especially the 29th) where there seems to be a glowing ball of light mainly around people’s feet. Probably a trick of the camera but it makes me think of Divine Grace and Light that is entering into the runners to keep them going.

    Best wishes to all of the runners!

    Purnakama

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