The parades, parties, and fanfare are now officially over. The joyous crowd that accumulated, just before the start on the first day, are nowhere to be found. On this overcast but pleasant Monday morning the cheering fans have evaporated away like a night’s mist. It has now come down to just the 11 runners, and the handful of crew that builds the site up each day. The crew’s faces will change like clockwork throughout the day. The running 11 will be the one and only singular constant of this place.
In appearance it is a place that is so plain and simple it hardly rates the distinction to be even called a camp. Not without character, but certainly not a place one would seek out unless you truly felt the inner call to be there.
Yet beneath the meager blue plastic tarps there is a magnificence not easily perceived. The runners of course are oblivious to their humble shelters. They are so rarely stationary any way. They are a whirl of almost constant motion, today, tomorrow, and on and on throughout the long New York summer.
The results of their first day upon the course is now captured on the score boards left over from the night before. In a few minutes they will shift into gear and be transformed by every new lap and mile. For now though they reflect clearly the efforts of all full day of running by the 11. Ashprihanal, the veteran put in a typical stellar day. Surasa the new girl on the course demonstrated her talent and tenacity with 68 miles. The rest showed that they are all ready and willing to continue onto towards their goals, both outer and inner.
The arrivals of the second day begin to show the patterns that will be forged more firmly in place as each day passes. Who arrives by bike and who arrives by car. How many precious seconds can be saved by leaving home just a little later.
What things need to be done before the start. Ashprihanal is looking for a pad to protect his feet from blisters. There is some momentary confusion in what it is called and then it is found any way.
Surasa arrives with confidence and resolve.
Rupantar in turn has to sort some things out with Nikhad. An elusive and formidable quarry is the ever rare counter.
“There was something pleasant in my dreams. I don’t know what it was but I awoke in a very good mood. And I realized, ‘WOW’, it is second day already.” Perhaps no one epitomizes the 3100 mile race as effortlessly and with such devotion and clarity as Stutisheel Lebedyev. Not just for him alone, but for his wife and daughter the race is the most significant event in their entire year, if not their lives. It is now his 7th year here and he seems to be constantly refreshing his motivation while at the same time breaking ever new ground in his inner life. There has never been anything quite like the Lebedyev family in all of its 14 years.
This year he also ran in the 6 day race in Flushing Meadow here in the Spring. He decided to use it as an aid in his training for this race. Last year he set a personal best of 48 days 12 hours. He says, “I will see how it will work. So far I feel quite strong. I am not a fast starter but I am a fast finisher of the 3100.”
He ran what he describes was average mileage for him during the 6 day race. Yet he is also aware of the distinct differences between the shorter race and the 3100. “The energy of the 3100 is much different than that of the 2 races in Flushing Meadow. Here it is much stronger.”
In practical terms he describes how much more difficult it was for him to get a rest there. If he stopped for 15 minutes during the 6 day he would still be tired afterward. But here after a break of 15 minutes he feels rejuvenated. Clearly he has a intimate connection to this race and place. He laughs, “Here I am at home, I was born here.”
He says of the 6 day race, “it was extreme. ” He describes that there were on occasions so much water on the course that he felt as though he was swimming. That somehow fate had thrown him into a biathlon which combined both running and swimming. The combination of rain and cold was “something.”
Despite the place being home there is a glaring temporary omission in the Lebedyev crew. His wife Atandra supported him all day yesterday. “She is doing her best. Yesterday I was running for 17 hours, and she was helping for 17 hours. It was exceptional and she did a very good job.” He calls this support both outer and inner help. It is however the absence of his daughter Alakananda, who will not arrive for a couple of weeks, that seems to be a conspicuous gap, not just in his crew, but also in the entire fabric of the 3100 mile race itself.
Alakananda will be attending City College in Chicago next year and is temporarily waylaid due to preparations for her upcoming school year. She and her mom’s combined effort creates a formidable crew for his race. He says of his daughter, “she feels this race very deep.”
It is also hard to imagine anyone enjoying themselves more than Vlady.
The course is not of without its distinct distractions and entertainments. Dharbasana has a close encounter with a local custodian from the school. Perennial musical accompaniment comes on a daily basis from Kodanda, with a wide assortment of instruments.
“My Lord, I run, and run, and run and run. To make you happy. My child, you are the smile of my eye. You are the beauty of my heart, and you are the pride of my life.”
Song and lyrics composed by Sri Chinmoy Performed by Enthusiasm Awakeners.
I was born to be
Here on earth.
Excerpt from Two God-Amusement-Rivals: My Heart-Song-Beauty And My Life-Dance-Fragrance, Part 8 by Sri Chinmoy