Day 51…The Race Of Life (August 7)

“I guess I am starting to.” This is how Harita answered my question about whether or not she can now see the finish line.  It is now day 51 and Harita has just 108 miles more to run.  When she soon reaches 3000 miles she will be on what Suprabha once called, the bell lap.

“It seems pretty definite now, by the way the past 50 days have gone that I am going to finish, but every lap is a miracle.  I am still really praying that nothing goes wrong.  I definitely feel that I can see the finish line.”

“Each day is completely different.  Every day has so many ups and downs in it.  Some days over all are a little easier than others.  But most days are pretty tough in many different ways.  Physically, mentally, or emotionally, so I definitely don’t think it gets easier.”

“In a way having the finish line coming closer is challenging because you keep thinking of finishing but you find every lap is full of new surprises, new challenges, and new experiences.”

“In a way the race is just one big blur.  Because there is so much intensity the whole time.  You are so focused in the moment and then you move on to the next moment.  The past moment is in the background.”

photo Jowan

“Overall there have been a lot of experiences.  Overall for me is the spiritual experience.  And really the opportunity to really see the power of the inner life and the power of our souls, of prayer and meditation.  The more that we can make that a reality in our lives then everything else flows from there.”

“Never in my life have I ever been able to just pray to God and God is right there for me.  Sri Chinmoy always talks about crying and having your heart’s cry and I have always seen that as a theory.  But in this race I can just cry like a child.  You really feel that the Supreme is really right there for you.  That is a precious and powerful experience that I have had.”

“The real experience I have had of the true oneness of our world family.  This is my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul doing this but everybody is helping in so many ways.  The people who write messages or who have supported us or who have come out to the race, and the other runners.  It is such a significant part of my whole experience.”

“That is the way that life is.  We may think we are running the Race of Life by ourselves but we are not.  We depend on each other and we need each other, and we influence each other, inspire each other and give each other encouragement.  We would never be able to do anything by ourselves. That for me has been a really beautiful experience.”

Photo Jowan

“One of the things I wanted to say on the practical reality is that out here on the course there are people from all different religions and all different walks of life.”

“Tough, rough, swearing people and spiritual people, and a lot of sports people and just regular people who come and walk around.”

“There is a lot of Muslim women who come out and walk around and lot of them are wearing the full burka.  A few of us have noticed that over the course of te race that a significant number of women who were in the beginning who were coming out walking.  The would always wave and smile and some of them have gradually become more friendly over time.”

“We have noticed that a significant number of these women have started to run.  Which is really amazing because it is not htat common to see.  You really feel that they must be getting something from this race.”

Photo Jowan

“This one little woman who may be in here 60’s or 70’s has been out here every single day.  She as been here for many years.  She always looks so serious so I took it upon myself as a challenge to make here smile.”

“After about 2 weeks she stared smiling at me and waving.  Then yesterday I saw her in front of me.  She was wearing sandals and is tiny and she was kind of running.  I thought, O my God, you are running, and I told her…you are running!”

“I said, please, please, run with me.  So she did it and ran with me for about 30 seconds.  I felt that was such a sweet experience.  Of how we are altogether in this world and we can go beyond so many barriers and experience this oneness with each other in this race in so many sweet ways.”

A most exquisite sweetness
I feel and become
When I think of my own
High, higher and highest experiences.

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Nirbhasa’s Finish 48 Days 16 hours 47 Minutes

The wait

Running with Mom

photo by Jowan

The waiting cake

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Kaneenika’s World Record Finish 48 Days 14 hours 24 minutes

Balloons

Waiting crowd

Sign

Nearly there

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Day 50 Nirbhasa…Just An Experience (August 6)

*Video recorded yesterday…..finish to follow soon*

Yesterday morning I spoke with Nirbhasa as he was completing his final 59 miles.  I joke when I ask if he is thinking about a good nights rest.  “I am not really thinking about that right now.”

“In one way today is just the same as every other day.  You have to take every lap at a time.  Be in the present moment.  Be in a good a consciousness as you can be.”

Nirbhasa says there is no coasting into the finish line.  It is never like that.”

I am curious if he has any advice for others who might be faced with their own great challenges.  “Of course in this race you have some tough times and then you have some very tough times.  But they all somehow pass.  You know at the end of the day that everything is just an experience.  The good times the bad times.  They are all fleeting.”

“The important thing is to somehow rise above and beyond those transient things.  Enter into something deeper.  You are almost an observer of your own good or bad experiences.  There is some deeper part of us that is just an observer of the whole thing.”

“Even if you are having a bad experience.  Even just to be able to solve the issue you have to put some distance from it.  Not get caught up in your own reactions to it.”

“In many way the tough experiences are ones that ultimately become almost in a way your good experiences.  Because at the end of it you really have to use your soul.  You end up ultimately closer to your soul and you feel that your soul is the most real part of your being.”

There are still some hours left and he says, “you have to treat it like every other day.  In other words another day to try and go deep within.  To pray, to meditate, and try to feel happy and grateful.”

Experience is not acquired information.
Experience is not required observation.
Experience is the result of an inner investigation.

Sri Chinmoy, Flame-Goal, Agni Press, 1973

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Day 49 Kaneenika….Coming From Inside (August 5)

The day started with torrential rain and then nature performed one of its little surprises and the day, quite dramatically became gorgeous.  Giving Kaneenika, who is finishing her long long race tonight a beautiful blessing.  One that all those champions still left here running can appreciate and benefit from.

*photo by Jowan*

She starts day 49 having completed 3047 miles.  Meaning of course that she has just 53 miles more to run.  What those numbers also show is that she is 133 miles better than her performance last year.  And around 8:30 tonight she will have set a new women’s world record at the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race.

As for her final hours and miles, “I feel as though I am doing my regular thing.  Just running.”

“There was something very special happening here at various moments.  Sometimes I felt as though I was being pushed or pulled.  There was definitely some kind of force.  A force was doing it for me.”

“At the beginning of the race I actually didn’t feel so strong, the first week and maybe even 10 days.  But then all of a sudden it felt as though I was gaining the strength.  It just all started happening.   It was all coming from inside.”

“To tell the truth I didn’t feel as though I was ready for this.”

I ask Kaneenika if it is possible to get stronger as the race progresses.  “Yes that is definitely true.  Physically your body gets used to the routine.  It is just surprising to me.   After all these years that I have been running the multi day races.  You do get stronger.”

I ask her if she feels that the races in some way touches the world beyond the little block here in Queens.  “I hope so.  That is why we are here.  That is the real reason.  It is not about the outer achievements but what we bring to the world.”

“There was one message that we got from a person who said that he has been watching the race, and he was about to go to a job interview.  Part of which he was required to give a lecture.  He was so nervous.  But when he started thinking about us running here, he immediately calmed down.  Then he said everything went so well at his interview.”

“Without Sri Chinmoy there wouldn’t be a race.  Without him we wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing.  Each one of us, and not only the runners.  Each one of us is a perfect instrument.  The Supreme is a conductor, and we just play our instruments the way he want us to.  That is how we play our parts.”

Hope begins
Inside the searching mind.
Promise begins
Inside the loving heart.
Satisfaction begins
Inside the illumining soul.

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Day 48…Victory Supreme (August 4)

Last night Vasu was into his final laps before completing the Self-Transcendence 3100 race for the 6th time.  He was into the very depths of his 47th day here.  His shirt was covered in sweat and he needed to make 67 miles before midnight.

As he passes by me along the dark sidewalk a student of Sri Chinmoy shouts out, “Jai Guru.”  Vasu without hesitation responds, “Jai Guru.”

He did not say this loudly but instead with quiet soulful conviction.  It was like music to my ears, just as I suppose his constant dedication to this race his spiritual teacher created has been sustaining him at every moment.  Not just for 47 days but even over the past 6 years he has run this race and beyond.

In his speech of congratulations Sahishnu said, “Ladies and gentlemen this was Vasu’s second victory and his 6th straight finish at 3100 miles.  He finished in 46 days, 17 hours, and 38 minutes.  Which is an average of 66.35 miles a day (106.7 km)”

“This was his 2nd best finish.  He is still 5th ranked all time.  Out of 145 performances now this is the 33rd best performance.”  Sahishnu then goes on to tell the story of Vasu’s serious back injury 8 months earlier.  So severe that he could barely stand little alone train.

“Miracles do happen, and this man proved that will power and grace from above can really work together.  His athletic talent is undeniable.  He is one of only 5 men in history to have averaged 70 miles a day.”

The next day he comes back to start the race one last time and run 13 laps in order to complete 5,000km. I join him on his last lap and the rain is falling heavily about us.

photo by Jowan

“I love this race.  I don’t know why I love it.  I just love it and do it.  I am happy here and I am able to do self transcendence. I hope that I can inspire some people to be better citizens of the world.  They inspire me and I inspire them.”

“I do this for my beautiful Guru and for Victory Supreme.”

photo by Jowan

To become better citizens
Of the world,
We must scatter happiness
Here, there and all-where.

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Day 47…I Am Really Happy (August 3)

Yesterday Ananda-Lahari ran 84 miles.  A number that represents about double what he has been doing most days.  Today he is moving less quickly but the ever present smile brightens his face and as I join him I feel my own smile brightening as well.

Today he says, “is a very good day.  Yesterday I ran very fast and today I am falling apart but there is eagerness and hope.  The focus is there.  So I am happy.”

I mention to him that his surprising performance yesterday lifted the energy levels of practically all the other runners as he flew around the block.  “I think it is all God’s work.  I just play what I feel.”

“It is not as though I do it to inspire people.  If it happens that others get inspired great.”

He says that most often when we are negative that, “it is a matter of choice.  We have to want.  That is the main thing.  We have to want to get out of, let’s say, a state of depression, or sadness, or something else.”

“Many times we subconsciously enjoy it.  To be there.  To be angry, or be sad.  We don’t realize it.  The first thing is that we need to want.  I know only one way.  I am really happy that I practice meditation, under the guidance of Sri Chinmoy.  He is teaching me how to throw away negative qualities.”

As we pass through the camp area Rupantar yells out, “he is inspiring the world.”

“In ancient times people were going to monasteries and caves in order to be alone to be able to pray and meditate. To be focused on God.”

“In today’s world I have learned that that was the way of the past.  Now we have to bring it to society.  We don’t want to cut off the outside world.”

“I practice mediation at home, but then I try and bring the results forward into my daily life.  This happens when we are in focus and feel joy.”  He says that meditation and exercise can go hand in hand.  Even if you are tired. Exercising for him is the best form of meditation.

“It is really nice.  You can be falling a part.  You can have a bad day and then you can still have a really nice day.  It is like bringing it into our daily activities.”

The time to be really happy
Is now,
Here at the very place
Where you are.

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Day 46…Nice To Transcend (August 2)

Nirbhasa’s improvement over his previous performance here in 2015 is simply awesome.  It is something that the numbers are extremely good at showing us.  Something that our eyes and senses cannot so keenly detect over the slow pace and rhythm of the many long long days on the course.

What is clear is that Nirbhasa is now 142 miles ahead his previous achievement.  Quite possibly he could finish the race by Saturday night and have the luxury of watching the final 3 days of the race from the sidelines.

He says there is no easy answer for his improvement.  “First of all you’ve done the race once.  So your body is just used to it.  Your body has some memory, so it knows how to do it.”

“When I did the race the first time I did very well for the first 10 days. Then afterwards my mileage really slipped. I think part of that was because my body had no comprehension of dealing with those kind of distances.”  Nirbhasa suggests that he does not know if there were a better way to prepare first timers for the race.  “It just turned out the way that it did.”

He says that being ahead of his 2015 results is very helpful.  “It is nice to transcend yourself.  It is also nice to know that you can finish a couple of days early.”  We are passing by the Enthusiasm Awakeners as we are talking.  “I can spend a couple of days as a spectator rather than a runner.  So that is really nice.”

I ask Nirbhasa whether Kaneenika passing him the other day has had any affect on his running.  He laughs, “it has definitely added a little spice to life.”

“One of the things, especially going into the last 10 days of the race, and a lot of other runners will tell you.  That it can be quite tough mentally.  Because part of you can see the finish line ahead.  I have prayed quite intensely to actually not have those mental issues.  No matter what.”

“I have to say that so far those prayers are working.  That also includes Kaneenika.  She is a force of nature.”  Nirbhasa adds that he has not backed off in any way.  “I am not leaving anything on the table.  It is not like I am taking it easy.  What you see from me every day is my absolute best that I can put out.”

“So I have to say that I am quite detached about what place I am in.  You are out here 18 hours a day, for so many days.  Now there is only 4 days left to go.  It is too long a time to be unhappy over something like 2nd or 3rd place.”

“I would much rather focus on concrete goals.  Like trying to finish on Saturday night. That is to me a really positive goal that requires effort.  Your happiness shouldn’t depend on what somebody else is doing.”

“There is definitely a part of me that is looking forward to some nice rest.  But at the same time this race has something that I have never experienced.  What it does for your inner aspiration.  Your inner connection to your soul.  There really is nothing quite like it that I have experienced.”

“I can only really hope that one of my goals is for after the race.  To make sure that I can really try and keep what I have gained from the race. That I can transition back into day to day living.  But at the same time really keep a lot of the inner experiences and inner qualities that I have gained from this race.”

Because we are eternal pilgrims,
Always we have to go forward —
Expanding and transcending.

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Day 45…To Better Ourselves (August 1)

This morning Kaneenika got a sweet surprise.  While she was passing Parvati and the Enthusiasm Awakeners, Parvati stepped out to hand her a picture.  It was taken, at best guess 11 years ago, when Sri Chinmoy used to come to the race each morning and teach the girls a new song.

In the photo Kaneenika is across the street watching, arms comfortably folded, and wearing a Sri Chinmoy Marathon team shirt.  Her days of watching of course are long over.  This is her 3rd summer here and as she starts the day here she is 310 miles away from doing something historic.  Setting a new world record for women at the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race.

This morning as we are talking and the subject of this great ordeal nearly being over comes up.  She feels that, “There is a time to start and a time to finish.”

“You have to do things a day at a time, actually even a lap at a time.  But there are things that are surprising me.  I have had experiences in the previous races when you feel like you can’t go on.  This is it.  How can I possibly make another step and then something happens and you are running again.”

“It is definitely all about the miracles and grace out here.”

“During this past Christmas I watched a movie about this teenage boy and he wakes up and it is Christmas morning.  Everything goes wrong for him.  (Christmas Every Day) The next day he wakes up and again it is Christmas morning.  So he has to go through all the things he did wrong again.”

“He improves some things and then he makes some other mistakes.  Not just him but his whole family.  This goes on again and again.  So he has to go through this until he gets things right.  I was thinking, one day as I was running.   I remember this movie, and it was quite inspiring for me.  There is something similar here.”

“We wake up in the morning and we come here.  We have plenty of time to better ourselves.  To change something that will hopefully will last at least sometime after the race.  In an ideal world it should last for our whole life.”

Last year Kaneenika had a powerful experience one day when she felt a great wave of peace wash over her.  “I think more and more that it is still inside me now.  When I want it I can just reach for it.”  We have just passed the area where the experience took place.  She tells me how much she still loves passing by there.

“I know Sri Chinmoy spent so much time there.  Exercising in the early years and when the race was on he would come and spend time to encourage the runners.”

“So whenever I run there I still feel a wave of peace.  But now I feel as though I carry it with me.  I can just, whenever I have problems reach for it an use it if I need to.”

To better oneself
Means to be
A good citizen of the world.

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Day 44…There Will Come A Time (July 31)

In just his 2nd attempt at the 3100 mile race in 2013 Vasu finished first.  Now, 4 years later in this his 6th race, he will once again be champion.  But for someone who has accomplished such an incredible task, you could not possibly ask for a more humble, modest, and self giving winner.

On Thursday night when he comes up the sidewalk one last time there will be no grand prize, no headlines around the world, but instead a gathering of his loved ones.  Those who know and appreciate his greatness.  It will be an accomplishment that so very very few could accomplish and one in which there could be no better a deserving winner.

When I ask him if he can hear the finish line yet, he says, “I hope.  There will come a time.”

“Every time something happens when you get to the finish line.  Some flow comes.  It is so nice.”

When asked what he has received this year. “I think I have learned many things in this race.  Especially I am very happy with my helpers.  I was given 3 helpers this year.  Especially Sasha, he is so young, and humble.  I am just happy.  Usually you have to take time to learn how to work with your helpers.  But this year everything has been good.  I am very grateful.”

It will be his 2nd fastest time.  “We try and do self transcendence.  Sometimes it is not easy physically.  We also try and do it inwardly.  We try and be more within ourselves.  To pray more and be in a good consciousness.  This helps us.”

Vasu also consciously tries to make the course more divine and pure.  Something he does physically many times a day by picking up garbage and litter. He feels that by doing this that the consciousness and vibration of Sri Chinmoy can be made stronger along the course.

He laughs when I ask if he misses the race when he is not here.  “Yes of course.  I always dream of each new race to come.”

There has been concern about falling down on the course.  Something that happened to Yolanda yesterday.  Vasu tells me a couple of stories about just such a thing.  “Usually at night before we finish the race we are a little bit tired.  Sometimes we fall down.  In my first race in 2012 Grahak also ran that race.”

“One night Grahak passed me just before the corner.  When I turned the corner myself I saw him lying down on the ground on his back.

“My mind was a little slow and I didn’t understand what had happened.  But I saw his shoes in one place and one in another, and as well a big stone.  So then I understood that he had just fallen down.”

“I picked up is shoes and then helped him to stand up.  He just put his feet in his shoes.  On his shoulder was blood.  He paid no attention.  He just put on his shoes and started to run.

“After a few laps I met him and told him, you are my hero.  You just put on your shoes and ran.  He then went on to set his fastest time.”

“2 years later Jayaslini was running here.  Once I was running behind her and she just fell down in front of me.  So I tried to help her stand up.  Then I told her the story about Grahak and she was so happy.  She did not cry, she just began to run.  Her Mother, who was there helping her, but Jayasalini did not tell her anything about the fall.”

Vasu tells me that he has fallen a few times himself.  “Usually I catch my self by falling onto my hands.  My knee doesn’t even touch the ground.  But one time I fell down and this time my knee just bumped against the ground.  So I just lay down on the sidewalk.  But it was not hard.  It felt as though I was in the lap of the Supreme.  It was very soft, very nice.”

“So as I was lying there on the ground I gave gratitude to the Supreme for this race.  I then stood up and everything was very good.”

There shall come a time
When all feet will proudly tread
The oneness-peace-road.

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