Day 19… A Day With More Smiles (July 5)

“It has been a very difficult voyage here.” Here on the 19th day of the race Kobi’s voyage, despite the some time choppy waters has taken him much further than he has ever run before.  He starts day 19 with 1253 miles and for the record he is accumulating new Israeli distance standards all along the way.

“The race is very difficult because each day you are faced with a lot of unexpected accidents.  You need to manage that and you need to run a certain quota.  You can’t just go to sleep.”

“So for me there is some pressure because I need to work here.  I have a lot of internal expectations for myself.  I need to finish this race.  I see myself as a person who represents his country.  I can’t make mistakes and ruin my race.  So I need to be very cautious.”

“There is no other race like this.  I have done so many other multi day races.  This is not the same.  Each day stands on its own.”

Kobi realizes that he is well ahead of the necessary pace needed to complete the distance before the cut off.  “I have a little nest egg of miles that I have worked very hard for.”

When asked whether he takes pleasure in setting new national records he replies, “this is not the point here.”

“The point is each day, for better or worse has its own life.  The records don’t matter.  More importantly if you have a good lap….that’s it.  That’s amazing.  If you have a bad lap….that stinks.”

Records are not in his mind.  “Every day I go to sleep and I pray that I wake up and have a little less pain and a day with with more smiles.”

Kobi is also very grateful for his support crew which unfortunately can’t be with him all day.  “When they are here it is a ray of light.”

“When the Israelis come to support me that is amazing.  Some come who don’t even know me.  They come and hug me and they say kind words.  That is amazing.”  Kobi confesses that as much as he loves having this kind of support it also takes time away from his work of running.  “Each Israeli who comes here and gives me a hug and tells me they are concerned and want to help me that………I am lacking the words to describe my feeling.”

Kobi also said on another occasion, “I love to run.  How amazing life is here every day.”

The board at the start of Day 19

All quiet

A surprise visit from Daulot and Stota

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Day 18…Come Together As One

“Today I feel so much better about being here.  I own this course.”

“In the last few days I let a lot of things and excuses get in the way of my performance.  Something clicked last night.  I was still behind the pace but I wanted to make it to 1,000 miles.  I had 3 and 1/2 hours to do it.  I gave it my all.”

“You have to dig deep into your soul and give it everything.  Once you do that things will turn around for you.  That is what happened to me over the last part of the day. ”

Up until that moment Yolanda confesses that she let the heat and her soar feet act as excuses not to push harder.  “I gave myself so many excuses about how not to perform to my best.”

“You have to stay strong and you have to stay positive.  You have to feed yourself nothing but positive affirmations to keep yourself going.”

“I have blisters on both of my feet.  What I have done is learn to embrace the pain.  The pain is a part of you but it does not define you.  Once you recognize that the pain is there then you can come together as one.  Your pain and yourself.”

Yolanda describes how she has given an actual name to this pain that is constantly nagging at her.  “Every morning she gives me a hard time.  So what I do is to acknowledge her and then I turn her over to Jesus.”  She says that once she turns the pain over to a higher power she is able to really embrace her pain.

“So if you take your pain and yourself and come together as one.  You will get through the pain.”

The board at the start of Day 18

The quiet hours of July 4th

Yolanda arrives

William with a yogurt, apple sauce, and water

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Day 17… Every Day Is Grace (July 3)

“I don’t want to think of the days to come or the days that have passed.”  This morning as I am running with Sopan he is literally living almost entirely in the moment.  A state that most of us aspire for at least at some point in our days but one that rarely happens to most of us and in particular to inquisitive journalists.

“The way it works here is that you need to focus on every day.  You cannot think about yesterday or the day before.  It is not good to use the mind too much.” (laughs)

Sopan proceeds to describe the incredibly difficult conditions that the runners have all had to endure over much of the past week.  “Four days of back to back heat wave.  It was pretty intense.  You can only focus on the moment of being here.”

“Every day becomes grace.  You have no idea what will happen tomorrow.”

The board at the start of Day 17 (Please note it was not updated)

Paramartha readying the scoring tables

Yolanda’s table

Yolanda arrives

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Day 16… Help Each Other (July 2)

To call the 3100 mile race just an endurance competition would be an understatement.  Certainly each runner athlete is trying to achieve an almost impossible goal.  There is also the camaraderie and the bond that builds and exists between this very tight community of runners.  One which is all about support for one another and the collective good of the entire running family.

Ananda-Lahari tells me a story of how Vasu went out of his way the other day to encourage him when he was only able to walk.  He told Ananda-Lahari about one of his own difficult experiences from a few years earlier.  He had been promised a massage and that when he went for it another runner was being helped instead.

Disappointed at missing the massage he instead kept going but was so bothered he found himself developing knee pain.  Which ultimately put him into an even darker place.  Some friends heard about his difficulties and came to the race immediately with an mp3 player and suggested he listen to music and picture himself running on soft trails in some far off Alpine meadow.

Vasu realized that his problems had escalated because he had imposed them on himself.  By telling Ananda-Lahari his own story of woe he was hopeful that it would inspire him to find a way out of his own slump.  Ananda-Lahari said that it helped him immensely.  It was friendly and loving advice from someone who knew intimately how barriers can suddenly arise in front of us which are at least in some small way self imposed.

Ananda-Lahari saw this in this selfless act of kindness the perfect inspiration at a time when he needed it most.  It eventually changed everything for him.  Very soon he was running again.  This is not an unusual story from the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race.   For it is a place of miracles and where true self giving is happening at every moment.

The Board at the start of Day 16

It will be another hot day

The good news is that later in the week the heat will taper off

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Day 15… Soul’s Happiness (July 1)

Harita’s performance at the 3100 mile race last year was a great achievement, one that no doubt surprised her but not so much to those who could not help but see her tireless enthusiasm and energy over the course of the long hot summer.   For a first timer to complete the distance is a big deal.  But also for one who had so few multi day races on her resume it was even more astonishing.

She has been out on the road crossing America with the Peace Run but has taken a break and is home in New York for a couple of weeks. She has come out every morning to enjoy the race from the sidelines this time.

“It is a really special place and to be honest and cannot believe that I did this race, because it is just so unfathomable.  I don’t how you can have the capacity to run every day for 52 days.”

“I really did it because I had an inner calling that did not just develop overnight.  I had a feeling for many years that perhaps one day I would do it but I felt it was not going to happen until I really felt I would be happy doing it.  When that happened it would be the right time.”

Harita described that as years passed it occurred to her that she might never do the race and then, ” 2 years ago I had such an inner feeling that Sri Chinmoy would be happy if I did the race, and that my own soul would be happy.  It felt like it was the right time.  It was such an inspiration.  That’s what made me do it.”

I confess to Harita that I did not recall ever taking a picture of her when she was not seeming to enjoy herself.  “That happiness was coming from my soul.  That is the only way that I can explain it.  I guess I really learned a lot of things during the race.”

“One thing I learned is that we have these different parts of our being which we know.  But if the soul can be happy.  You might necessarily feel happy in your mind, your body might be suffering.  But the soul’s happiness overrides everything.”

“A lot of the time I didn’t feel consciously as though I were happy.  But when I look back at photos of myself from the race I look so happy.  That is amazing.”

“I really imagine that I will come back again next year.  Sri Chinmoy is the founder of this race and I can’t imagine that he would think that once was enough for me.”

The board at the start of Day 15

It is going to be a seriously hot day

It will remain hot all week

Sill early

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Day 14… Grateful Each Day (June 30)

“I try to see it as blessings.  Sometimes I think the sun helps me a little bit.”  The weather has shown not just Surasa, but all the runners many faces over the past week.  A few days ago it was a day of heavy thunderstorms and now the heat is settling in and has no plans to leave any time soon.  Surasa will have ample opportunity to renew a challenging friendship with such an unforgiving power.

She says of this relationship, “I try but of course if it gets so hot I forget.  I think it would be good to see the sun as a friend, and not to fight.”

Surasa has been running now for 2 weeks and has covered 810 miles.  She is not certain that she has yet to get completely into the rhythm and flow of the race.  She is happy with her performance thus far but confesses that a day before her flight to New York she actually considered cancelling coming.  “I had back pain.  I thought I was not strong enough.” She does not have any doubt whatsoever now that coming to the race was the right thing.

“I am just grateful that each day I am able to do my miles.  Therefore I am satisfied.”

She says that when negative thoughts appear for her the best thing is to push them away.  “If it is possible to do it.”

“I always forget the hard things about the race.  So when I think about the race it is always just positive.  I forget the other things. It is really funny and amazing but it is just like that.  When I think about the race I get joy.”

The board at the start of Day 14

The quiet time

How the heat wave is shaping up

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Day 13…Inner Light (June 29)

“Yesterday 2 full thunderstorms with full power, and also super humid.   Now we change to extreme heat.”  Ushika of course is describing conditions at the 3100 mile race.  A rather shocking wake up call to the kind of conditions that now lay before the runners for the next 39 days.  In other words welcome to a typical New York summer.

To his credit Ushika has had a superb start to the race.  In speaking with Ushika this morning at the start of day 13 I ask if he is prepared for these kind of conditions.  “We will see.  I have not gone through it yet.”

As for his race so far he says, “By God’s grace it is getting better and better.  I am finding it easier to run. Sometimes it feels effortless.”  The main concern for all of the runners is of course making their daily miles.  For him he finds that just being able to do so is a miracle.  “I couldn’t do it during the 10 day race such mileage.”

His focus every day is to reach 109 laps.  “But I don’t push it to get there.  I had a couple of days with much less miles the first week.  He also is happy that when he didn’t reach the mark on those days earlier in the race his mind was not disturbed.  I remember other races when I was more concerned.  But this time my mind kept totally quiet.  Basically I focus on just going around and around.”

Ushika says the reason he is so much more successful here at the 3100 is the inner light. “You feel it.  It creates all the miracles that happen.  I feel that every day that I am able to appear at the starting line as a miracle.  Every day that I am able to cross the finish line in the evening is a miracle.  And every day that I reach the mileage goal is beyond a miracle.”

The board at the start of Day 13

Many runners had difficulty adjusting to the periods of heavy rain yesterday

Kobi starting the day off with help from Vajra

The camp early

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Day 12…Challenge Yourself (June 28)

“The overwhelming feeling was relief.  Coming back from so far was a relief.  It was the overwhelming emotion.” William Sichel in now into his 12 day of running at the 3100 mile race and he remembers the feelings very strongly of when he last ran this race in 2014.

It was an incredible achievement not just for a runner who was 60 years old at the time,  but any runner.  He was more than 70 miles off the pace and with miraculous determination snatched back enough laps each day to ultimately complete the distance in 50 days and 15 hours.

For the past few years as he has matured in age William has set his sites on accumulating as many records as he can.  When asked how many he received from his efforts here in 2014 he says can’t remember the number,  It was 200 and something he says.  His reasons for focusing on gaining records he says in part are due to simply trying to motivate himself.  “It gives me long term goals to aim for.”

William says he has no plans for retirement any time soon, though he jokes that he might not be doing the 3100 again any time soon. (laughs)

Besides the records, more importantly he says, “I have become who I am through running.  Personality wise and everything really.  I envisage running until I can’t.

William says that he has many people around the world who are being motivated and inspired by his running this years race.  He hopes they will take up their own challenges while he runs in the 3100.  “People are doing anything that challenges them.”

“I have always thought, and it applies to me and everyone.  You can always do a bit more than you think you can.  I have applied that throughout my running career.  I believe that virtually every single person can do a bit more than they think they can.  I think it is a useful thing to keep in mind.”

The board at the start of Day 12

Getting ready

Vajra working on Kob

The weather

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Day 11…This is Paradise (June 27)

“I feel good, very good.”  Vasu says this with his usual smile and ever cheerful enthusiasm.  Put into perspective one should also note that over the past 10 days he has been running 18 hours a day, had little sleep, and had knee pain (the only one we know of).   Also he  has done nothing but run around this same block for the past 6 summers accumulating to date, a little over 19,000 miles here. Truth be told he is grateful for the opportunity and can think of nothing he would rather do.

In this his 7th year at the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race, when asked if he is happy he says, “of course.  Everybody is happy to be here.  It is paradise.”

Last year Vasu won the race in 46 days but his best time to date has been his race in 2015 in which he came in 3rd place with a time of 44 days.  This year he is in close competition with Kobi, who starts the day just 10 miles in front of him.  Vasu sincerely feels that presence of Kobi in the race is an inspiration in order to help him transcend himself.

“Sometimes it is very hard but inside it is very very happy, and very inspired.  All the best people are here.”  In this he refers to, not just the other runners but also all those who contribute to the race in any way.

Vasu says that his friend Igor who ran the 3100 in 2011 first talked to him about the race over the course of 2 hours and inspired him to come himself in 2012. Igor told him he would gain inner and outer purity.

He thinks that by taking part in the race he is in a unique way serving the evolution of humanity and the universe.

The board at the start of Day 11

The camp is quiet

Kobi getting an early adjustment and advised to stretch more

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Day 10…Closer To My Soul (June 26)

Coming back to the race this year for the 4th year in a row Kannenika has a hard act to follow.  Last year she set a new women’s record for the distance at 48 days and 14 hours.  She broke the previous record set by Surasa by 17 hours.   At age 48 she could easily have retired with her phenomenal record.

That of course is not what thr self transcendence 3100 mile race is all about, nor is it in the heart of Kaneenika not to keep trying to transcend challenges with every effort of her being.   It is not for nothing that she just so happens to be wearing a shirt today that has lettered across its front, Never Give Up.  When asked whether she struggled to make up her mind to come she replies, “It was the clearest decision in years.”

Of course that is not say that little doubts didn’t nibble around the edges as the race drew near.  “I feel those moments.”

After 9 days of running she has accumulated 535 miles.  When asked if she has got into the flow of things just yet she laughs and suggests it will take as much as another week to toughen herself to the hard concrete sidewalk.  She says however that recovery from the race last year was not too bad.  “I think it was my best recovery.”

Her training over the past year she says was interrupted by illness now and then.

Asked about setting the course record she humbly replies, “I don’t think that it was me who broke the record.  I don’t claim it.  It was given to me.”

She says the most important result of taking part in these incredibly difficult endurance races is, “I feel that I am getting closer to my soul.  Closer towards what my soul wants me to do, or what my soul wants me to become.  This is the way for me to make spiritual progress.”

“When it is hard it forces you to go within and ask for help.  This is the opportunity to rely more on your inner source.”

The board at the start of Day 10


Kobi and Yolanda share a selfie

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