I am all Happiness

I don’t know what you did last night but I have a good idea what 29 ten day runners in Flushing meadow did.  As the warm bright afternoon of their first day settled away and was replaced by a still cool night, the true enormity of their task truly opened up in front of them.

It is in the heart of the night, with its quiet black solitude, that the imposing challenge of how far they have to really journey becomes clear.  It is in the night with its solemn stillness that the reality of the great gulf of time  looming in front of them is revealed.

Sleep calls out enticingly.  Fatigue or the false specter of tiredness dances in front of you and it is so easy to slip away unnoticed in the dark and find your bed and surrender to dreams.

But that did not happen last night to 29 runners in Flushing Meadow.  Some or all of this enchantment called out and enveloped you and I but not them.  They ran on and on practically throughout  the entire dark night and the numbers beside their names today showed what great things happened to them while you and I dreamed our dreams.

He is so happy being here, that as I run with Syona Ionov, 39, from Kiev Ukraine, I suspect that his joy surpasses even the highest realm of delight experienced by children when arriving at an amusement park for the very first time.  In this case Syona is here at the 10 day race for the third time and his excitement and enthusiasm after more than 24 hours on the road is remarkable.

He tells me that he graduated directly from 24 hour races to the 10 day.  For him bypassing the 6 day and going directly to the 10 made complete inner sense to him.  He describes this leap upwards as using divine math.  His analogy is that most of us simply take logical safe steps from 1 to 2 and so on.  When your heart compels you this simple logic is unnecessary and you can transcend our limited mental constrictions by listening to our own inner wisdom.

When I suggest that according to his math the next step would be to enter the 3100 he laughs out loud.  “This is my far dream.”  When I first see him at the race today he is being interviewed by some other Ukrainian friends who are here in large numbers.  In this race 11 runners are from either Russia or the Ukraine.  Over the years a growing number have started to come and it seems to be a tangible way to test themselves both outwardly and inwardly.

Syona says, “I was not a runner at all.  I was an engineer.”  When he became a student of Sri Chinmoy he feels everything in his life changed.  Running has always been a big part of life in the group so he was inspired to try it.  In the beginning it seemed impossible.  Even 20 minutes of easy jogging was exhausting.  “Wow, 20 minutes is more than enough,” he says was his first reaction to running.  “I felt so tired after 20 minutes and look now what has happened,” he says with real joy.  “This path changed me unimaginably.”

His strategy he says for running these long races is to always try and remain in the present.  “If I think about the past I get tired.  If I think about the future I get tired.  It is only when I feel today and this moment that I feel happiness.  I read about this but I never felt it.  It is only when I run that I feel this.  I live in this moment.”

In his first race he ran 472 miles while last year he ran 440.  He tells me that he has trained more this year and hopes to break 500.  At the same time he seems detached from this goal of making more miles.  More importantly he says, “I feel I must be happy. That is all.”  He has been coached by Stutisheel who happens to know a few things about ultra distance running, having completed the 3100 many times.  He has suggested to him not to think about the miles at all, just be conscious of his running.  Syona says that so far this is what he has done, “I am all happiness.”

Every runner is so different.  In their preparation and what they need to keep going.  Barney has some Chi seeds, some salve, a chap stick and a night light.

I would not of course dare to reveal which runner belongs to either of these 2 tables.  But being next to each other I thought they demonstrate the amazing differences between what runners need as they come by their tables.  Shashanka  (oops, I let it out) seems to have a full buffet waiting for him.

“I wanted transformation of my entire being that is why I came.”  Zuzuna Doczlova, known by her friends as Zuzka, 31 from Kosica Slovakia is here at the 10 race for the second time.  As a student of Sri Chinmoy she of course has a special connection to this race, and knows that like herself, many runners here see multi day running as an opportunity to really transform themselves.  That the barriers most of us in life feel cannot be surmounted are in fact just hurdles that inevitably must be crossed.  It is through the dynamic activity of running that the inner life and outer life can find harmony and that impossibility does not really exist at all.  It is just a phantom that roams endlessly around our minds.  She is doing this race she says because, “I wanted to do something intensive and self giving.”

She says that before coming to the 10 day race last year the longest event she had been in prior to that was a 48 hour race.  When asked what the difference is between the 2 she says, “It cannot be compared.”  She says that for her personally that running the 10 day is only possible if one is able to surrender everything that they have.  To instead try and allow the divine within us take over.

I jokingly ask that if she surrendered everything last year what could she possibly surrender again this year.  She laughs and suggests, “I could only surrender very little last year.”  She has a helper with her this year and she is running along with us and helping to translate some of the trickier words to describe her experiences here.  At one point they are both laughing when trying to come up with  a word to describe an intense mind.  None of us can find the exact word but in our laughter it sounds like she is simply more relaxed about her experience at running here again this year.  She laughs and adds, “I am trying to be more relaxed. I have a good helper.”

She feels that it for her, it is through coming closer to her own inner spirituality that this race is possible.  That physical and mental power will not really help her ever complete the entire 10 days.

It may not be time to smell the roses just yet.  But some of the crew here have found time to stretch a little and do a little floral arranging.

12 years ago Nishima Knowsley 50, from Auckland New Zealand came to Flushing Meadow and ran a great 6 day race.  It was her first and only multi day race and she has never run another until yesterday when she started this race.  It is always interesting to try and understand what moves people to do great and challenging things.  In her case she felt after running that 6 day race she could have run longer.  She says, “it has always been hanging over me.”  She felt that if she never got around to it and attempt a multi day race again that it would be sad.  Her solution, “I might as well do the 10 day race and transcend myself.”

There are a lot of New Zealanders here and she feels that all their support has made it easier for her to decide and come.  She jokes when she suggests that one of her first experiences here was wishing that she had selected the 6 day rather than the 10.  She laughs at the thought and suggests, “I just need to get rid of my mind.”

Her strategy she says is simple, “put one foot in front of the other and stay in a good consciousness.”  In mileage terms she hopes to complete 2 marathons a day plus a mile, which works out to something like 54 miles a day.

“I know the races are always the highlight of my life.  Coming here was obviously something my soul wanted to do.  It was such a strong feeling.”

Her training schedule 12 years ago was cut short by the distraction of picking apples in February.  This year she has been training steadily since Christmas, trying to get an hour of running in every morning.  Helping her with some of the problems of running in the pre dawn darkness is the presence of her husband John.  He helped her back in New Zealand and as well he is here supporting her effort at the 10 day.  She adds, “he is getting really fit too.”

She describes that the real challenge of running this race is not the physical but more so handling the mental challenge.  “You have to draw on your inner qualities more,” she suggests in order to do it.  She say that the best part of being here is just experiencing true gratitude.  When one is able to do that then everything else seems to fit in place.

Nishima Interview

“For me it is tremendously inspiring,” says John her husband and all around support crew.  He was also here with her 12 years ago and is glad to be back as well.  “Just to be in the village has this uplifting and inspiring feeling, and it is constantly there.”

He admits that the event is difficult but at the same time there is so much support and happiness here that it helps alleviate the challenge of it.  People love being here and love helping and that love doesn’t dissipate, it remains and in turn encourages more love and even more joy.

He says that Nishima had such a great experience 12 years ago that she perhaps in some way felt she could not surpass that experience.  In time however she came to realize, “of course there is more. I know there is more.”  It was by getting back into her distance training once more that was the key for her to getting the confidence in order to try it again.

As a teenager she had been 400 meter specialist and once long ago had dreams of making the New Zealand Commonwealth games team.  Now at 50 she has come back to Queens to face an unbelievable challenge.  John says that one upon a time she was a sprinter but now she is a distance runner, and she is here because she has put her heart and soul into it.

John Marshall Interview

Everybody is longing for happiness,

Even God.

Although He is all Happiness,

He wants to be even happier

By transcending Himself.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 97 by Sri Chinmoy

3 thoughts on “I am all Happiness”

  1. Hello there !
    Just a big warm greeting to Nishima and Niribilli ! We are most inspired by your heroic effort and have you both in our prayers everyday for the Supreme victory.

    If you have
    A beautiful hope,
    Make it sleepless.
    If you have
    A powerful promise
    Make it breathless.

    Sri Chinmoy

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