April 26….Day 10 (Each Man Is A Miracle of Miracles)

“I guess I am happy.”  One can’t blame Ashirvad if he is a little uncertain of his feelings.  This is his first 6 day race and over the course of the past 5 days he has run 212 miles.

“It is a great opportunity to be here.  Everything is perfect.”  When asked what got him to come out and run this year.   “I have a lot of friends who are good runners, not like me, and they somehow encouraged me.  I never even thought about doing it till some time last year.” In earlier years he came many times to help with computer technical support.

“What happens here is magical somehow.  There is an energy, there is a feeling that goes through everything.”  Ashirvad says this energy permeates not just the other runners but also the course and as well all those who help or even come by to support the race.

“I have started to take notice and realize every place along the course.  There is a certain identity.”  Nothing goes unnoticed from the puddles to the trash cans to the trees.  “Each becomes an element that makes the course so unique.”

He says all the experiences both high and low force you to live in the moment.  “It keeps you focused on right here right now.”

“I am surprised that my mind did not go off or start to get bored because there is always something new.  It is either the pain or an experience that you have, or the weather. All those things are changing all the time.  It forces you to be in the moment.”

“I am of course happy.  The last day is the happiest day of the entire race.”

Andrei says that he thinks about the race quite often at home and has deep feelings about it.  “I get inspiration when I think about it.”

He says while the race goes on he sometimes feels pressure and even that I don’t like it.  “But after awhile when I recover and feel better.  Now everything is okay.”

“From the 2n or 3rd day I feel as though I have changed my mind a little bit.  My problems I felt like they disappeared, or became no so important.  After this I felt peace was coming into me, into my mind.  No problems bothered me.”

“Its been an amazing experience.”  Ashadeep is running her very first 6 day race.

“There have definitely been highs and lows.  But everything has been a miracle.  The race has totally blown my mind in every way.”

She says she is surprised what the body can accomplish when grace descends.

“I tried my best not to have any expectations.  I did want to make the 150 miles over the first 3 days.  I knew that was Sri Chinmoy’s original cutoff.  “I was very happy that I completed that.  For the next 3 days I was just happy that I could continue.  Ashadeep has 241 miles for 5 days.

She says that she will be both a little happy and a little sad when tomorrow she is completing her last lap of the race.  “Definitely it is very magical out here.  There is a very strong force.”

The furthest she has ever raced is the 47 mile race.  When asked why the big jump to this race, “just my heart.”

“I have been to this race many times to help count.  I have always felt a pull towards it.  “It took me 4 years to get ready and to actually do it.”

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April 25….Day 9 (Going to the Source)

Mark Dorion is telling me a story from the night before.  Andrei Somov had asked him deep into the night what he got out of running the race.

“I have had very many highs and very many lows this past week.  I am trying to be steady but that is just how life sometimes confronts you.”

Mark feels that finding that balance is something every person has to confront in their own lives when face with adversity and challenge.  “There are days when nothing seems to be going your way and then you forget sometimes just how many days when things do go your own way.”

He also feels of course that ultra races are like climbing great mountains.  “It is never the same mountain twice in any way.  Not the people, not the physical feelings and not the spiritual feelings.  There is always something new.”

“I like to challenge myself.”  Ronnie Wong has had a lifetime of challenge as ultra distance runner.  At age 70 he has come back to the 6 day trying to set an age group record.  After 4 days he has 182 miles.

Ronnie says he had a surgery just this past October.  “For 6 weeks I could not run at all.”

“After my operation I wanted to see if I could run this kind of distance.  I am not completely recovered yet.”

“Right now I don’t have any pain.  This rain is okay.  I seem to work better when there it is a little wet.”  It has been 9 years since Vedisha has been here at the race.  The hard part for her she says, “is to push through your boundaries in order to reach your goals.”

“Years are flying but something happened a year ago.”  Vedisha says that she had an inflamed vein in one of her legs.  “I came out of that experience with Sri Chinmoy’s help.  Since then I just felt I have felt little hints and messages that I should do this race.”

Her message she says, “was let’s try this again.  I really didn’t want to believe it because my problem was with my leg.  So I said okay.  Let’s try. Because of this I had to have 100% faith because logically you would never do something like this after that kind of surgery.”

“It was really painful and in August I could hardly walk.  But miraculously I came out of that.  I think doing the race for me is a kind of a tribute to Sri Chinmoy and my way of saying thank you.”

As for the race so far she says you learn more from silence.  “Inside silence, and you also observe your surroundings more as well as the inner world.  Maybe it is my hallucination or imagination but being here is a very nice opportunity to observe these things that you would never do in your day to day ordinary life.”

“Now I have the time and the surroundings are provided.

Flower

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April 24….Day 8 (Keep Moving)

“If I stop for too long my feet hurt.” I joke that means she needs to keep moving for the next 3 days.

Kim Allan has been leading the women’s 6 day race from the start.  “It is a good thing it means you can’t muck around.  At the end of 72 hours she has 220 miles a number that puts her at 3rd place overall.

“It has been tough.  The road is undulating.  It is a tough course.”

“When things go wrong it kind of escalates.  In shorter races you can think it will be over at 100km.  But when things go wrong you think, o my gosh, I still have 4 days.”

Her longest event prior to this was to run for 86 hours where I did 500km but it wasn’t a race.  Kim tells me that she is familiar with other Sri Chinmoy Marathon team events from her home in New Zealand.  “I did the 24 hour race in Auckland and it is awesome.  It is a really enjoyable experience apart from the pain.”

“I am happy I am still going.  I had stomach issues that first night at 1 in the morning.” After which she had blisters and realized things weren’t going according to her plan.  “The thought of sticking it out for 6 days seemed enormous.  I guess I am proud that I am still here.”

Kim feels that at this point in the race it is her mental strength that she is relying on most.  “I am not doing a lot of running.  I have managed to maintain my miles by staying awake.  I have had 2 hours and 30 minutes sleep since the start of the race.”

“I just stay up all night knocking the mileage out.”  She has a 17 mile lead over Vikena.  She says that at the beginning she was competing only with herself.  But now, “It is hard when you find yourself in front.  You kind of want to hold it.  You get competitive.”

She says that Vikena is running really strongly.  “The only way I have managed to keep my place is that when she is sleeping I just keep going.  Every lap I do she still has to pull that one back.  She is a lovely lady.  I don’t want to be competitive with her.”

Her feeling about the race thus far, “It is wonderful.”

“I feel very fortunate to be here.  Every time I come here after finishing, it makes me more mature.  The race gives me a better understanding of life.”

“I take this race like I do life.  Many times in life we feel ourselves in difficult conditions.  Here the same thing happens.  Sometimes it is cold, sometimes it is windy and because of that you feel low.  The answer you find is to keep moving on.”

“Nothing else do you need to do, just keep moving on.  2 days I go I was in a real bad patch.  My feet were sore.  I used the mantra, Keep moving on, and now I am doing good.  I am still on my 50 miles a day pace.”

“Personally I take this race as an opportunity to inspire the citizens of my country, India.”

*translation by Stutisheel*

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Day 7 (Late Night)

Still moving

Nipura in kitchen

food all night long

Jiri

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April 23….Day 7 (Stay Inside Your Heart)

“I like to challenge myself.”

This is the 4th time Budjargal Byambaa has come to the race and so far he has run spectacularly and consistently over the past 6 days. He has 456 miles and leads the 10 day field by 21 miles.  When I ask him why he is running so much better this year he says, “I made sure that I trained better back in my home in Mongolia.”

* translation courtesy of Ariuka*

“In previous years my training was split between Canada, U.S., and China.  This time what worked out well was I trained in my country Mongolia.  The climate there is very friendly, and good for challenging yourself. ”

He adds that his goal is both to run well with big miles and win the race.  As to what he has learned, “Your heart power is much stronger than your mind power.  If you stay in the heart, you can forget all about your pains.”

“It has been dark for 2 days and now that it is sunny people are starting to feel happy.” Gundega has done the race 5 times and this is the 2nd time she has been in the 10 day.  After 6 days she has 327 miles and is in 4th place.

The difference between the 10 and 6 is that the 10 is a longer experience.  As for her miles she says, “when I started I think I cared but then after 4 days I had an interesting inner experience.  I wasn’t caring about the right thing.”   She realized that more important than her mileage was being in a good consciousness.”

When that happened she immediately felt her stress and worries vanish.  “I am so happy.”

I ask her how it is possible to be in a good consciousness when the race is so difficult.  “You can walk, you listen to music, You can imagine you are a small child.  You can do many many things.”

Gundega says every race she is shown something new.  “You always learn something about yourself.  It is really really important.  It is progress.”

“I spent all of last year preparing for the race.”  Injured, she could not run the 6 day last year.  How she got interested she says, “it started 4 years ago when I came to help at the 3100 mile race.  It gave me the inspiration to start training for this event.”

“The energy at these races is so amazing.  I didn’t come with any big expectations I just wanted to offer myself and do my best.  This year was going to be a learning experience.”  After 2 days she has 126 miles.

She feels that being happy and joyful and having positive thoughts are really important to the race experience.  “It makes such a difference in how one feels.”

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April 22….Day 6 (A Vision of a Oneness-Family)

“Its been a roller coaster of emotions and feelings.  I feel great some times and then in the next lap I can feel that I am down in the gutter.”

48 year old Todd McAuley is running in his first 6 day race.  He has participated in many endurance events over his many years of being an active sport participant but this is something brand new for him.  “This is completely something new for me.  The longest race I have ever done is 100 miles.  This is going to be a little bit longer than that.”

As we are talking there is still a little time before the end of the first 24 hours.  Todd has 66 miles but his goal is to make 70.  When asked why he picked that number he says, “I pulled it out of a hat.”

Last year at this time Todd had done a marathon in Deleware.  He had being hearing stories about the race for years and so decided to stop by on his way home.  “I stopped here with my wife and we checked it out.”

Todd confesses that he thought he would be inspired by seeing the race in person but instead walked back to his car and said, “there is no way I am ever going to do that.  This is a whole different level.”

“I think the seed was planted and about a month later I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was the challenge of the unknown.  I didn’t want to accept defeat before I had even tried it.”  Eventually he realized he had to simply had to accept the challenge.

“I think if I hadn’t tried it I would always have had the question.”

Now his goal is to stay healthy and keep moving.  He hopes to average 70 miles a day, “Pretty or ugly I want to get them in.” (Todd made 70 miles for Day One)

“I have a wonderful crew,” says Mark Dorion.  (Health and Safety have not been notified about the rodent currently attached to his left hand)

Durba at age 58 is running her first 6 day race.  She lives in Auckland and when I suggest that the Kiwi’s are taking over the race she says, “it is a oneness world.  It doesn’t really mater whether we are Kiwi, or Aussie, or whatever.”

When I ask her the eternal question….why 6 days?  She says, “I wanted to have the experience once in my life, what is it like.”

“So far it has been really really nice.  People are really kind and the race is so well organized it is unbelievable.”

It just happens that many years ago she was a helper for Suprabha had her first 1300 mile race.  “She is an inspiration for many many people.  So I wanted to try and ultra at least once and see what it is like.”

As for goals, “I don’t know.  I have never done anything like this before.  I will be happy if I can stay on my feet for the next 6 days.  I am really happy.”  (Durba has 52 miles for 24 hours)

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April 21….Day 5 (Time to be Really Happy is Now)

“I like pain.”  Quote from Shirley Kolakovich a short time before the start of the 6 day race.  (Just Kidding)

“They do a really good job at this race.  The aid stations are great usually the weather is nice.  We’ll see the last 4 days the weather is going to be in the 70’s F.”

This is the 2nd time Shirley has done the race.  2 years ago she did 211 miles and is hoping for 300 miles this time.

“I love New York and the staff here is great.  The course is nice it is not too hilly.  Which is really nice.”

When asked if there was something she would like to see happen to her personally she says, “I want to humble myself.”  I suggest this expectation will likely be fulfilled.

58 year old John Geeler set a personal best of 437 miles here last year.  He has been here many times and has tremendous multi day experience.

He arrives minutes before the start and when asked if he ever gets nervous, “plenty nerves.  Specially when you don’t get here on time.”


“You want to do good and everything.  This race is not like a 5km race when you have to perform well right away.  Here you can make mistakes because you have time.”  Having a good time he says is his plan.

Mark was here 2 years ago and says he is glad to be back.  “It is the same course very familiar.  Beautiful weather, I love the clouds.”

“Last time I had a goal of 400 miles and I hit it.  I am a little out of shape this time.  Usually I am pretty strong at the end of the race.  So the first couple of days are for me about survival.  Trying to eat correctly.  There are a lot of inspirational runners here.”  He mentions how much inspiration he gets from being among so many talented and experience athletes.

“Very happy to be here and I would like to make 350 miles.  I think to start I will just and try and make it to 100 miles.”

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April 20….Day 4 ( My Highest Goal )

(Interviews with Patanga Cordeiro DaSilva, Michel Guoin, AnnaKimchinskaia)

The board after 72 hours

“The race is beautiful.  I am slow but I am happy.”  Patanga has completed 140 miles over 3 days.  This is his 5th year.

“The first day I thought.  I am never going to do this again.  Then just a little bit latter I thought, I really love this race.  Then a little after that I thought maybe I should break one year.  Then I will come on the following year to make it a little bit easier.  In the end what ever comes up will come up.  That is why I am here, I guess.”

Patanga says in his earlier races it was clearer to him what the experience meant.  “I used to feel and react to things that would happen outwardly.  The pain and such things would show me their relationship to the inner things.”

Now these days I don’t pay so much attention to the outer things.  I feel that this is a special place.  Once it is over I can see inside myself where I went.”

He also feels the race does not diminish him physically.  Instead he gets stronger.  “It brings forward some physical and mental strength.  It also teaches you humility and so many other things.”

“As long as I can do 500 miles for 10 days I will keep coming back.”  It just so happens that Michel Guoin is wearing bib number 11.  It happens to as well be the same number of years in a row he has run in the 10 day race.

To complete the 500 miles is his goal he says and as well he likes being around other people.

He also says about coming here, “it is a good excuse to take time off from my job.” Michel is walking smoothly as we talk.  He hopes one day that he will also be joined by his son Tommy here at the race.

Michel has long been part of the ultra distance community.  He feels very comfortable with his style here in New York.  In Quebec where he is from it is unique but at the 10 day race he feels he fits in.  “Here I am not unique.  I was surprised to see others running and walking like me.”

He says that if he can continue to complete 500 miles he will continue to come back to the race.  If he is not successful this year he suggests he still might come back and do the 6 day race.  “I am not ready yet.”

“I didn’t expect to much this year.  I don’t think I will break any records.”  Her personal best for 10 days is 435, she has 138 miles for 3 days.  “I just want to participate, to get joy, and to have some experiences.”

“The physical always suffers in these races.  The happiness and joy that you receive during the race, helps you overcome the pain.”

*Bonus film today is Nipura’s Race Kitchen* ……Click to Play

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April 19….Day 3 (Nothing To Lose)

The first 48 hours have passed

“Its going great….beautiful Canadian weather.”  Last year Richard came for the first time and ran the 6 day race.  At the end of 48 hours he has made 100 miles

He jokes, “this is kind of balmy for Canada….you know that.”

“I actually feel very lucky and blessed.  That is the honest truth.  I am enjoying every second of it.”

He says that in some ways every day at the race is similar.  “You go to sleep, you get up, you run, but every day actually is different.  There are things to contend with.  There is the weather.  There is how you are feeling.  There is your injuries.  It is all the same but different.”

Richard says that compared to his race last year he feels that he is getting a lot better at it.  Last year I may have gone out to fast. I got injured and ended up walking for a lot of the race.  This year I am just working my way through my injuries.  I know that I have a lot of time…..so just enjoy.”

“One thing that is always the same here I can tell you is the food is great, the people are great, the support is great, the runners are great.  You feel coddled here.  It is a wonderful feeling.”

“I feel that because I am taking longer breaks that when I get up I feel fully energized.”  Laila is here at the race for the second time.  She did the 6 day race last year.

“So most of the time I am running and not walking.”  (she has 111 miles for 2 days)

When asked what she likes most about the race she says the intensity.  “I like to get fully immersed in things, so that nothing else exists.  This is perfect place for that.”

“You feel here that you are living in the moment.  You are dealing with this moment here and now.  Whatever is needed is taken care of you are not thinking about the past or the future.”

“Eventually you just let go of everything.  You feel peace, sweetness, joy.  You have to go through some hardship to get there.  Eventually you realize that nothing is important but your peace and your joy.”

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April 18 ….Day 2 (When You Give Joy To Others)

The first 24 hours have passed in the 10 day race

The camp

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Before the first 24 hours Budjargal got 100 miles

He is running very well and is leading the 10 day field.

Bubbles

“I promised you that I would come back after 10 years.”  Last year Pedja Knezevic ran the 10 race after an absence of 10 years. (69 miles for 24 hours)

“I changed my mind because I realized it was a very important race.  When I saw my people when I came home I saw how happy they were so therefore I decided to run again.”

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