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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April 17….Start of 10 Day (Start of Something New)

The Self-Transcendence 10 race started today in Flushing Meadow

 

“The races are always great.  The runners push themselves beyond the brink of sanity but they discover new potential or they discover something new inside themselves.”  I spoke with Sahishnu before the start as he was giving out race kits.

“It gives them an assurance…. a joy.  A feeling that yes there is meaning in this life.  There is a quality that they are starting to manifest.  It could be poise, it could be peace.  It could be joy or it even could be sore feet.  Who knows?”

“The thing is we put on these races as Sri Chinmoy instructed us, as a service to the running community.  But there is something special that Sri Chinmoy offers through these races.  It is a feeling of heart’s oneness, not just with the runners but with humanity in general.  It is imbibed into these races wherever the marathon team puts them on around the world.”

He described the intensity of the runner’s efforts is not strange when you look more deeply.  “It is a real spectacle of human development and determination.”

“The runners change from when they start the race and when they finish.  They may be extremely tired but as well there is a certain vibration that they gather from doing these kind of races and it stays with them.  For months and even years.”

Budjargal gets a massage before he starts

Some last minute tidying up

Maria peeling potatoes

There are lots of potatoes to peel

Happy cooks

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April 16….I Feel Ready For It

Now it is just 24 hours before the 10 day race starts on Monday.

The score board eagerly awaits the first numbers to be attached.

Runners are busily arriving setting up their tents.

The dormitories are mostly empty

Lots of work still being done

Jesper Olsen has returned after 5 years

“In 2012 I reached North America.”  At the time Jesper was doing an around the world run and stopped along the way to compete in the 6 day race.  “I was tired because I had been running non stop for 3 years.  It went as expected when you are tired.”

“It is like starting a car and you have forgotten to put fuel in the engine.  You do 100km a day and that is all.”

Jesper will be running the 10 day and says this time he has no distractions.  He says that it is important to be ready.  Physically, Philosophhically and spiritually.  He says 5 years ago that he was not physically ready to compete. Philosophically he says he was ready.  “I was still curious and hungry for more distance…..and for victory.”

He says this time he is very ready spiritually.  “Being physically ready is a completely different thing.”

“You know I am getting older and it is supposed to be an advantage in these multi day races but you never know.  My body is getting tired and my spirit is getting young.  They are going in opposite directions.  I am getting more and more curious as well as getting more and more tired.  My goal is to find the equilibrium so that I can still run and I am very curious if I can push the body more.”

Yuyudhan has many tools

The empty path

Rajpal

Richard and Kim

Kim doing some decorating

Taking a break

more break

Big break

Race director Rupantar

Bahula and medical

Uddipan

Cones

Putting up the banner

Arun

Its up

These long distance races remind me of our Eternity’s race. Along Eternity’s Shore we are running, running, running. We are running and running with our birthless and deathless hopes. We are running and running with the ever-transcending Beyond.