Each Mile is a Flower

p1020833The curious race of Madhupran Schwerk continued today.  For a man, who just yesterday saw his dreams of reaching 1000 miles shatter, today he looks confident and secure and is moving well, and oddly enough, still perhaps able to make it any way.  It appears as though a new destiny is slowly and surely revealing itself to him.  It is a goal, one can easily imagine that may not be reached before the 10 day cut off, yet will nonetheless be much clearer to him with each step and mile he completes. For all intents and purposes he seems now to be pursuing an inner goal.

cimg2298On his phenomenal first day he ran 136 miles and in the next 24 he has run something like 80.  Whatever the case he still retains a comfortable 40mile lead over the second place runner Igor Mudryk.  The entire time I am at the race today he is moving.  Not running true, but walking fast, and certainly on the cusp of being back on his toes.  He tells me again, “this is my last race and from the first day I am becoming all my old injuries from my running life.”  With this remark he points to a number of places on his body and then just laughs.  As if the frailties of human life will never be understood.

p1020822He points to his knee which he tells me is swollen.  He says, “At least I can run a little so I can call myself a runner.” With this he gives another hearty laugh, and adds, “Here I must learn a lot of things.”  He tells me it is no longer about time and splits but about people, nature, feelings, and people together.  He says, “I must make it free in my brain, now I can relax. My last race must not be about fighting but about surrender.”

p1020807p1020837Olga Soboleva, from Smolensk Russia has completed 119 miles, while Devabala Malits has run 131.

Muslim from New Zealand does a lap with Rasto Ulicny from Slovakia who is in 5th spot with 158miles.

p1020851“The first day Devabala is over enthusiastic, running, running, running, and I believe it can go on like this.”  He is speaking about himself in the 3rd person, but Devabala is explaining an experience well known to many multi day runners.  Then he adds, “the second day you just get broken down totally.”  He laughs as he says this.  He has run this race 10 times and he is all too familiar with the races’ obvious joys and its profound struggles.

There is an intensity of experience here that has no comparison in ones normal day to day routines.  On the physical, mental, and spiritual level multi day running will appear to test  runners to limits, they never dreamed possible nor they thought they could ever experience.  Yet if one believes life is ultimately about self transcendence, than there can be no finer or more challenging course to take than to enter and complete a multi day race.

cimg2304Bipin will be working on his little town probably right up to the moment he starts to tear it down.  Which will start to take place several hours before the race has even finished.


A team of counters are present 24 hours a day.  The number will almost double when the 6 day race starts in 2 days time.

p1020852Tirtha is currently tied for 7th place with 147 miles.  She is having some leg problems and has gone to the sidelines for some rest, some advice, and comfort from her friends.  The community that is created during the course of the race is all about oneness and helping and inspiring others.  Everyone has a unique and individual goal that has little if nothing to do with surpassing someone else.  It is a unique life lesson about cooperation that is hard to replicate in the real world.  But here is a place where tenderness and ache is almost a constant in the physical, for each who had the courage to step up to the starting line.  Nothing is to be gained by increasing the suffering of others.  Ultimately it is by helping others that perhaps one is then truly able to help oneself.

cimg228963 year old Mike Brooks, a retired fireman from Danville Maine is a perfect example of selfless service.  He ran his first multi day race here in 2006 to help raise funds for a terminally ill children’s camp, called Camp Sunshine,  he supports back in Maine.  He did the 6 day race at the time because he had just turned 60 and decided his goal should be to raise $6000 and complete 300 miles, both of these goals he was able to accomplish.

p1020803He tells me that he never even started running until he turned 50.  He quickly turned to the longer races because he saw that in those events he could excel.  Of the race in 2006, he says, “they were the best volunteers I have ever seen.” This race for Mike will be his biggest challenge yet.  He wants to complete 500 miles and in so doing raise $10,000.  The motivation for him is that he knows that every lap he completes he is earning more money for sick children.

p1020802Mike says of his past, “I was a two pack a day smoker and weighed 235 pounds.  The guys who know me back then can’t believe what I have become.”  He refers of course to being a disciplined and dedicated distance runner who still hopes to compete in the Badwater race when he reaches the age of 70.  He tells me, “I get satisfaction of reaching new goals every day and meeting new people.”

He says that when he received his trophy 3 years ago from Sri Chinmoy, he told him at the time it was a great thing that he was doing by raising money for children.  Mike says, “that meant a lot to me.”

Mike ran 77 miles his first day

p1020847p1020846Pradeep Hoogakker  from the Netherlands has 140 miles and Luis Rios from Brooklyn NY 149.

Vladimir Razumovsky from Russia has 154 and is in 7th place and Andrey Andreyev from Russia has 147.

p1020849Bigalita’s presence in this race, with absolutely no multi day experience is almost incomprehesnsible.  If one were to factor in her age, which she certainly does not look, 68, than you would have to come to the inevitable conclusion that what she is attempting here is impossible.  If you thought that of course you would be wrong.  Very wrong indeed.  As she strides into her 3rd day on the course she looks great and she tells me confidently that she feels great.  Her current goal is to do just 5 more miles so that she can reach 100 miles and then take a break.  It will be a short break.

p1020832“I have run, probably 70 marathons,” she says casually.  She had read about the experiences of many who have done this race and she says this inspired her a lot.  She felt that the intensity of the experience gained by running the 10 day race would help her spiritually.  She says that coming from her home in Los Angeles to this place will, “make me put one foot in front of the other.  Be surrounded by nature and think of nothing about Gop1020848d and nothing else.”

I ask her what it was like when she was standing at the starting line 2 days ago and she says, “I was crying, crying with joy.  It was very beautiful.  It felt good.”  When I ask her what her goals will be over the coming days she says, “For others who have done this race before it is harder, because they want to self transcend.  My job is much simpler.  I just need to be happy and to finish.”

cimg2303“I feel this job is important because for each runner, each mile is a flower from their heart, and when I put up a new number I feel happy.”  Yaroslava is helping with the scoreboard for the first time.  She is focusing hard on her job because at this time of day the runners are coming by quite often and she knows it inspires the them to see their totals grow with each lap.

p1020834You can sense the dedication she is putting into her job as she pulls each of the Velcroed numbers off the large score board and adds a new one to an ever increasing total number.  She knows how hard each runner is working to make their total change, so she is pleased to be part of it.

The sun will be setting soon and she will continue on doing this for several hours more.  When her shift ends, someone else will take her place, and tomorrow she will come out and do it all again.  She says, “Each day I feel something new inside me.  Each day I feel self transcendence.”

4 Comments to “Each Mile is a Flower”

  1. Vasanti says:

    Go Bigalta, I am so proud of you and so happy to see you there! Bigalita celebrated her 60th birthday by running 60 miles years ago – she is a very strong runner and a strong heart, she will do it!

  2. […] was featured on the race blog this morning, PerfectionJourney.com (photo source). There, he describes how his motivation is to finish each lap knowing that he has […]

  3. Nirmala says:

    go Bigalita good to see you on these photos, go Bigalita

  4. Nirmala says:

    I am also so proud of you Bigalita for your courage and strength, keep it up.

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