June 23 The Good Runner Inside You


3 feetTaking care of the feet is a daily ritual for Ananda Lahari, Pranjal, Pranab, and Pavol.  It will take each of them about 15 minutes to tape and prepare their feet before the start.  With the many days of rain it was particularly important to do this as the wet conditions made it easier for the feet to blister

suprabha arrivingboardSuprabha is one who comes ready to run.  She is less than 10 miles behind where she was this time in last years race.  Like nearly all here she has passed the 500 mile mark.

pranab bikegrahak bikePranab is still in last place but is beginning to slowly come back into form.  He is more than 160 miles behind where he was last year at this time.  Grahak, who set an Australian record is 10 miles ahead of last years total.


photo Alakananda
photo Alakananda

“I run around the block mostly to get Ideas.  Everybody else is getting  miles.”  Ashprihanal is in a playful mood this morning.  It may be for a number of very good reasons.  The rain, which has been relentless for days has finally stopped.  For the runners it means one less formidable adversary. Or it could as well be the fact he ran 79 miles yesterday which means his current average is 75 miles a day.  This technically puts him on track, at least for the moment, of potentially setting  a new course record.

a2Ashprihanal of course is not constructed of the same raw ambition which drives most world class athletes.  He is a light and almost ethereal being who does not look as though he runs like most mortals.  It appears more as though he flutters, like a small graceful bird just above the unforgiving course.  He is never interested in recounting his statistics or his records.  He is not about glorifying his achievements or setting himself off toward distant goals.  He is all about the moment.  There is a genuine humility about this flying Finn who has run this race 8 times and has won it 5 times.

The ideas he is talking about is for a short impromptu skit that he and Grahak will in a few minutes perform for Parvati and her singers.  Today will be their third performance.  He says, “How it started off, it was raining for 3 days.  I was all the time changing shoes.  It was rain, rain, rain.  Then Grahak and I started thinking about a play.  It gave me such joy I forgot about the rain.”

The duo’s first performance involved Ashprihanal pretending to punch  Grahak who would then pretend to loose a tooth.  He tells me how apprehensive he was about doing it.  “Yeah, I was a little scared.  I had to punch somebody and they were singing so soulfully.”  The girls loved it and laughed joyfully for several minutes afterwards.

a8His training in the past year was hampered by a serious infection which took some time for the Doctors in Helsinki to diagnose.  Once he was prescribed antibiotics, his condition improved dramatically.  He does admit to having trained less over the past year.  He admits that at one time he ran as much as 3 times a day and participated in many distance races during a single year.  He says, “I am happy that I haven’t trained and raced too hard.”

Photo by Alakananda
Photo by Alakananda

I ask him what part of the day he likes best and he says, “The evening is always best.  You know that your are going to go home.  It is cooler and there is no sun.  Normally it is just peaceful.  The toughest time is between 12 and 5.  That is when I am falling asleep.”

“One day at a time.  I don’t think about next week.  I just don’t try and think too much.  The mind complains and you make less mileage.  Let’s see what happens.”

Of his teacher Sri Chinmoy, he says that in creating this Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race he knew that it would be good for those who could come and take part.  Both for all the runners, and as well for those who helped it to take place, in any capacity.  He says, “Sri Chinmoy made everything possible.  For us it is all about progress.  We make so much progress here.  For us it is really really a blessing to be here and to run.  At least it is good for me.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it over and over again.  The most important thing is that I am trying to do my best and trying to make progress.”

Vladimir Balatsky 552 miles ..1st timer
Vladimir Balatsky 552 miles ..1st timer

Now the question is, what qualities do you need to bring forward from your inner life while you are running? The first one is enthusiasm. Who embodies enthusiasm? A little child. Who can be more enthusiastic than a child? He enters into a garden and runs here and there, here and there, appreciating everything that he sees. Then, in addition to enthusiasm, you need eagerness. Again, who has more eagerness than a little child? If he plays with a toy, he is so eager, his whole world is the toy.

Every day when you run, you have to feel that it is a golden opportunity to appreciate the One who is inspiring you. Always you have to feel that the Supreme is inspiring you to run this longer than the longest distance. Somebody is begging you, urging you, to do the right long straightthing. Again, when you agree and say, “Yes, I will do it,” then that Somebody Himself runs in and through you. First God comes and begs us, “Be a nice person, be a nice person.” Then when we have decided that we should become a nice person, when we have said, “Yes, my Lord, I have decided to become a nice person,” God Himself becomes that nice person. Similarly, when you run, if you offer the prayer, “God, please make me a good runner. I want to make progress this time in my running,” then this is a good prayer. At that time God Himself will become a good runner inside you.

Excerpt from Run And Smile, Smile And Run by Sri Chinmoy.

chicken 1chicken 2The logistics of Grahak and Ashprihanal being both together as they come by the Enthusiasm Awakeners is no small feat.  With a block to go and out of sight of the girls they make final preparations.  Ashprihanal has been demonstrating his chicken imitation for me.  The addition of a rubber glove on his head will greatly add to the effect and be more convincing.  Grahak adds a hat so that their surprise will be well hidden.

chicken 3

chicken 5And yes, Parvati and her singers were genuinely surprised and amused by the performance which did involve the laying of a hard boiled egg.

Parvati and chicken performance


Although I try and fail,

Again and again I strive

To become a good runner

In my inner life.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 92 by Sri Chinmoy.

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