June 30… Just One Smile

“There are moments when I think, why am I doing this again?  But otherwise I think it was the right decision.”

A few minutes before we started running together Kaneenika had just completed 700 miles.  It happened in the early part of the morning.  Before the sun bore down and the noise of a busy city swept over the course.

At this time the weather was pleasant and still. Kaneenika was running briefly with her friend Kanala. Who both come from Slovakia and on many mornings talk cheerfully and run joyfully for a couple of laps before Kanala heads off to work.

Of course 700 miles is just one of those tiny rungs in the ladder leading up to 3100 miles which resides precariously at the top.  A challenge, that by itself 15 years ago in 2001 when Kaneenika entered her first 700 mile race, would at one time long ago, have appeared as huge.  Now it is just one early notation that indicates where she is after a little more than 11 days of running.

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When I suggest that things seem to be going very well she says, “yes, but it is only day 12.”

The cloud of her race last year, if there ever really was one has now vanished as she pushes forward with energy and joy into this her 2nd attempt at running the 3100.

By all indications she is doing very well.  Not only would her time for 700 miles surpass her race time from 2001 it is also better than her time for that same distance last year.  She starts day 12, about 40 miles ahead of last year.

She says it wasn’t a simple decision to decide to run.  “I did.  I had many questions.”  (she laughs)

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“I was thinking about it, but of course, I was still recovering from my injury.” (She finished the 52 days with 3014 miles…..86 miles short)

“It wasn’t really clear whether or not I could run.  Physically the point I knew I was able to do it was when I ran the Chico marathon in March. Then I was getting strong feelings that I should do it.  Everything was like leading to it.”

Kaneenika recalls a significant dream that took place in October.  The dream said, “in the next race you should take 3 breaks.  Actually the times I should take them came to me.” When it happened she was puzzled by why she was even having the dream when it still wasn’t clear that she would run.

So quite obviously this year,  “I have tried it from the first day and it really works.”

“So I think these things happened that gradually led me to the race.”

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Now she faces the daily struggle of trying to complete 110 laps every day from a very appreciative perspective.

“There were evenings when it was really hard to get there.  But then it came to me that in the last race at the end I was grateful to do 80 laps.  So now when I get to 100 laps I say, what ever I get after that is great.”

Stepping not too far back from all the numbers there is something important to remember when you take a look at what Kaneenika is actually doing here this year.  The obvious courage and strength of character she is demonstrating is beyond question.

Her absolute dedication to taking on the toughest race in the world is patently obvious.  There is something else about Kaneenika though that is even more impressive.

What I see in her face as I gaze across the many photographs I have taken these past 11 days, is the look of absolute contentment she has.  An inner glow that permeates her expression with a kind of radiance, nearly every time the shutter clicks.

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We may not be able to fully attribute and collect all the pertinent information on what Self Transcendence is, but in Kaneenika’s face you can see it revealed and glowing.

An expression that demonstrates just how our precious inner divinity can come forth from within and touch our outer beings.  It just takes the courage and conviction of a runner like Kaneenika to prove it to us all.

I ask Kaneenika before I go if there is a poem that is special to her this year.  Here it is.

Just one smile
Immensely increases
The beauty of the universe.

The board and Janos

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Yuri dropping of laundry

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Kaneenika arrives

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Surasa checks the lap sheet

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Rupantar checks the counting book

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A story from Vajra

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Still 11 minutes to go

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Vasu arrives on time the sun just a little later each day.

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Start Day 12

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The first steps

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Pradeep doing his sun gazing

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Vasu continuing his streak of 70 mile days.

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He now has 807 miles

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Drying shoes

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Atmavir had 68 miles

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He now has 784 miles

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Nada counting

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Far end of the course

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This may be a little tricky to explain, but this is Tajini demonstrating what she did after she meditated this morning. It may or may not be sleeping.

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Yuri did 67 miles

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He now has 768 miles

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The sun has not yet touched everything

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Ashprihanal did 63 miles

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He now has 745 miles

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Everybody loves water

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Surasa did 65 miles

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She has 714 miles

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Sahishnu handing email to Akbota for Kaneenika

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Kaneenika did 64 miles and has 696 miles

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Petra ready

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Shamita did 64 miles

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She has 684 miles

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The fence

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Sopan did 60 miles

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He has 665 miles

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Chandra counting

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Mechanical problems

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Kinds of grass

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Ananda-Lahari did 45 miles he has 656 miles

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Stutisheel did 57 miles.  He is checking out a squirrel

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His reaction to the squirrel, not his 11 day total of 637 miles

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By the playground

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“By gosh you are right.  It does say inaugurated in 1964.”

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Baladev did 57 miles and has 634 miles

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Volodymyr did 47 miles.  One of those who carries so much poise

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He has 607 miles

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Irena recalls that she and Vasuprada were together helping Surasa at the race 2 years ago.  “This is the last time we were here.”

Irena: “For me it was the best summer of my life.  Every single day was so fulfilling.  I was extremely happy every single day.  I could be here for the runners and I could help.”

Vasuprada: “They are doing such an amazing job.  They are running all the time.  You can be a little part of it when you help.”

“Often when people come by they can’t even imagine the mileage that the runners are doing.

Irena: “They don’t even believe it.”

When asked what they think about the 40 more days ahead of them.

Vasuprada: “Just for the moment.”

Irena: “Yes the same.”

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Poem of the Day

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Enthusiasm Awakeners

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Smile at the world.
Smile at yourself.
Just smile, within and without!
Your fate could have been
Infinitely worse.

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2 Comments to “June 30… Just One Smile”

  1. Hridayinee says:

    Wow what a great interview with Kaneenika. Thanks so much for that. I wish her all the best and I’m very inspired to jump on a plane and come over early. …if possible. For now, I’ll keep following these awesome journals. 😉

  2. Tanas says:

    Thank you Utpal for your wonderful and inspirational daily reports.I been following this amazing race for the last 5-6 years and each summer I am getting so much inspiration and energy from your blog and all those fantastic runners. In return I can give all my gratitude and love to all the runners,helpers,organisers and all of you who are spending hot summer days in New York.Love to all of you.

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