With so many nationalities represented and so many different languages spoken, sometimes communication can be a little awkward at the Self Transcendence race in Flushing Meadow. But when you strip away the runners origins, eliminate personal habits, and simply just forget all the little idiosyncrasies that make up our fragile humanity something very powerful and genuine remains. It is of course the heart. It beats in the core of each runner and is the true engine that powers each and every one who runs here.
Some arrive so naturally gifted that when they run you might think you are seeing some ephemeral mirage. Yet within the super talented, if their heart and will is not strong, you will sense pretty quickly, as you watch them run that something is missing. It is perhaps what we all seek as well, that spark of indomitable life force. When we see it in others it can ignite our imagination and inspire us, as we see it burning within them.
In others as well, you sometimes find such incredible determination and energy that their bodies can barely contain it. Yet, despite this great capacity, the physical can only give so much. The body not really capable of harnessing this phenomenal life force.
When you watch Yuri Trostenyuk, 47, Vinnitsa, Ukraine, you cannot help but notice that rare combination, of both a strong body and a superbly strong will. A fellow Ukrainian admiringly describes him as the epitome of the Ukrainian spirit. For him this is a resilient toughness, that simply never ever gives up.
There is nothing pretty about his running style, but it doesn’t take to long to appreciate that he has an efficient and economical stride, as much as anyone on the course. He simply looks as though he is built to run, not at high speed, but simply to keep going and going forever. This is the 5th time he has come, last year he won the race and set a personal best of 693 miles. Currently, after 48 hours on the course he is leading with 189 miles.
I was able to run with him today accompanied by a translator. He tells me that he loves the race because it gives him a special experience that he can get in no other way. I wonder why he would pick such a difficult task like running 10 days to achieve this. He laughs and tells me that the goal may be hard to find, but when you at last reach it you see that it was worth all the effort.
He tells me that his first race here was very difficult for him. Yet despite this it was so fulfilling that he wanted to come back as often as he could, and do it again and again. He compares each new race here as if they were individual lifetimes. Each one evolving in its own way and hopefully reaching new heights with each attempt.
Even though he is leading the race at this moment Vladamir is just a few miles behind. I ask him if he feels any pressure from those who are so close behind. He tells me that the God that lives in his heart inspires him to do this, and so presumably he does not listen to the footsteps following so closely behind. Instead he just listens to his own heart.
There is one, not so secret inspiration he has that he hopes one day to fulfill, and that is participate in the longest race in the world, the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race. His message to all runners is simply to never stop. Never be discouraged by problems, or when things get difficult, there is a sun in front of them.
click to play interview (English/Russian)