July 22 Run for Eternity

workers“What do we have to do to be in this race?  Mateo and Hector are two guys from the department of transport.   They are part of a large crew, who thundered up to the course this morning.  They are here to repave the road beside the Grand Central.  They have been here early preparing the street and moving into place a parade of large bulky machines.  They will be here most of the day but certainly not as long as any of the runners.

worker2When they hear how long the runners have been here on the course and how long their days are Mateo says with incredulity, “that’s 18 hours.  Wow.”  They tell me that they will come around to the other side and see the small camp area before they go home.  They have listened carefully as the runners have passed and I explain which countries they are all from.  At one point they tell me, “how come there are no Spanish runners?”  I tell them not yet but if they start to train they can be first.  It is clear they have been paying attention to both those moving past them on the sidewalk as well as the road they are about to make better.

By Shraddha April 79

By Shraddha April 79

When we take the golden opportunity

To run the fastest,

We see that spirituality

Is for Eternity.

Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 19 by Sri Chinmoy.

rupantar treeboard

Rupantar explains as he grasps the tree that such a practice was once part of  Gama’s, a great Indian wrestlers, training program.  He said that if one trained by trying to move a tree that when you tried to move a man it would be easy.  Here the runners move themselves, and easy it is not.


vlady4He says, “all day it was very nice.”  Vlady describes his day yesterday, which was his birthday with not just a little irony.  He ran the least mileage he may have ever run in a multi day race.   He completed barely 49 miles.  “I had no power.”  He laughs sincerely and says, “it was a special day.”
He was sick all day with a fever that stubbornly resisted his treatment.  Why it should happen to him on his birthday he has no explanation, “I don’t know why.”
He tells me that the he had a fever for 3 days.  He was still able to run over that time but obviously yesterday was the worst, “I had no power.”
He could only do 6 laps per hour and then take a break of about 4o minutes.  It was also a day in which, as he calls it, his compassion rain fell for much of the day.
In the evening he says he felt better and went home early for him, at 11 o’clock.  This morning he is moving, not well, but moving nonetheless.
vlady1The gifts that the 3100 mile race bestows upon its runners are incomprehensible at least to our minds.  People get sick and then they are well again.  A road that is broken gets fixed.  Lives seeking perfection do not always walk along a sunlit  path with flowers by its side.  The goal beckons us forward.  Sometimes we stumble and sometimes we fly.  It is enough to at least heed its call, pull ourselves away from slumber, and move forward no matter how long it takes.
anan2ananI am trying to ask Ananda-Larhari what happened when he went to visit a Doctor yesterday.   Pranjal is running with us and volounteers, “the Doctor told him he is only tired.  How he can be tired after only 3500km.  It is a joke.”
Ananda-Lahari says that he told him, “you are very very exhausted.”  He gave him some dark gooey medicine which he is supposed to take with milk.  After he takes it for a while everything will just go…….
With this he makes a gesture with his hands.  He holds them up in the air and then drops them by his side.  I am not sure what it means but guess it is one way a Doctor can show improvement and encouragement to a runner who still has almost a 1000 miles more to run.
as4The year that Asprihanal was born was the same year that the great Finnish runner Lasse Viren ran in his last Olympic games in Moscow.  He is aware of him of course but never saw him run other than in old films.
The age of the Flyinng Finns had passed by the time he first participated in sports.  He tells me that he was not really interested in running when he was young but preferred instead to play soccer.
He knows about the famous runners from Finland.  Certainly every Finn grows up and learns about the exploits and glory that Pavo Nurmi was able to bring to their country.  He says that they did not inspire him to run, it was his Spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy who brought forward this capacity within him.
It was while he was an exchange student in the US that he got inspired to hike.  He did the Pacific crest trail which is 2650 miles and goes from Mexico all the way to Canada. He tells me he found it easy to walk all day, from morning to evening.  “I walked all day, it was no problem, 35, 40 miles a day.”
as9When he heard about the races he says, “no mountain, no back pack, and you can run.  That’s how I started.”
The 700 mile race, 10 years ago in 1999 was his first multi day event.  He tells me something that Lasse Viren once said about competition, “You only have to give everything.”
It was 9 days ago now that he had his very bad day in which he only completed 14 miles.  His recovery has been slow, at least by Asprihanal standards and his mileage has looked impressive.  “Yesterday was my first day for a while that I was running very lightly.  Which means I am healthy.”
as8The new things for him in this years race are his cameo appearances in Grahak’s skits and the appearance of flowers along the course.  “Two new things that we have never had before.  We need newness.”
As he runs this morning Asprihanal has less than 418 miles left to do.  In something like 6 days his race should be over.  I wonder how he feels about the imminent finish of his race which seems to be fast approaching. “I pretty much every year look forward to the end.”  We talk about the possibility of running like this not just for 3100 miles but for every day of the year.  He says, “that would be mentally tough.  I think the physical could do it.  If the body can do it for 50 days why not 365 days.”  Asprihanal interview
stut5Two days ago Stutisheel ran an impressive number of miles, 69.  Yesterday he followed it up with 68 plus, and I am curious how after so many days he was able to run so well.   “You have quite good training over the last month plus something days. Everything is perfect so why not run 70 miles a day.”
His plan for now is simple, “For now I will just run steady.” It appears as though he is clearly in a groove at this time, in which only 734 miles remain.
stut12“It is easy. Surprisingly easy.”  He feels that the standard of the race is going up and up and says, “probably it is time to raise my standard.”
He recalls how last year when he ran 69 miles on day 42 he was dead afterwards and it took him a long time to recover.  Today he has had 3 high mileage days back to back and seems to be unaffected by this effort.   We talk about running every day and he describes for him the best strategy is for hard training to be followed by breaks.  “If you force yourself to be constantly on the same level, it is like against nature,” he says.
stut10We have come back to the counting area and his wife Atandra is there ready to hand him a drink.  I ask her about the race and she says, “It is very nice.  It is more easy this year.”
atandraHe then tells me how Dipali had come by a few days ago and showed him a video of his finish in 2007.  Sri Chinmoy is there to celebrate his completing the race.  Sri Chinmoy was told that year that the race had been run 11 times.  He asks Stutisheel, “so how many of the 11 did your run?”  He will tell Sri Chinmoy that he ran four of them.  He tells him, “very good.”
He recalls this moment with much affection and appreciation for his late teacher.  This perhaps being the last real outer experience he would have with him.  Stutisheel says, “in such moments you can really feel like you can run for eternity.”    Stutisheel interview
parvati poemparvati


O pilgrims of Eternity’s road,

You I admire,

You I love,

You I treasure.

For in you I see promise

Of Infinity’s measureless measure.

Excerpt from A Soulful Cry Versus A Fruitful Smile by Sri Chinmoy.

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