A small case of World Cup fever broke out at the race on Tuesday night. It was predicted that his would happen sooner or later some weeks ago. There is no real cure for this and the Center for Disease Control advises everyone who catches it to remain calm, despite the obvious dramatic impulses that sometimes comes over people stricken by it. One moment you can be quite suddenly deliriously happy and a short while later suddenly wish to burst into tears. The fever is not life threatening and over the course of a month it will work its way through the system. With hopefully no life threatening or long term consequences.
In the case of the outbreak last night at the 3100 mile race, Sundar Dalton, a local barber, has been identified as the principle carrier. He has been passing out scores from matches on a regular basis throughout the past few days. Usually his method of transmission is a phone call, but he has been known to show up unannounced with both tragic and joyous news.
No noticeable side effects have been exhibited by any of the runners who may have come into contact with the contagion. Mileage numbers to date have not been effected. It is hoped that at best it will inspire the runners to reach new heights. On the other hand no one is anticipated to be so depressed that they will drop out of the race and fly home.
An International incident was diverted when the game between New Zealand and Slovakia ended in a tie. Nandana was able to act as an intermediary between the opposing factions but wants to remain as neutral as possible as she has a full time job being a helper, cook, and full time mom.
On this the start of Day 4 Dharbasana gets some advice from two veterans. It is a place, in which particularly for the new runners, there is a lot that needs to be learned really quickly. Of course everyone is learning lots everyday about diet, nutrition, and testing all kinds of brands of shoes but little problems can quickly escalate into something major.
Pranjal has had a strong start to his race. Currently he is in 2nd place. He is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. He works on his feet first thing in the morning and always seems to be cutting up shoes. He told me that a new pair of shoes that he paid $120 for lasted just one day.
Petr had the most mileage yesterday with 69. Stutisheel and Atandra are a strong team and have been at this for quite a few years. He is running consistently an average of 66 miles a day. The countdown is on for the arrival of the third member of the team.
Surasa has been sporting a large wrap on the shin and ankle of her left leg. It seems to be some form of rash. It seems not to be affecting her running. The Swami, also known as the 12th runner is out on the course before everyone arrives most mornings.
Start Day 4
Pushkar has come down today with a strong case of Swiss World Cup Teamitis. He recognizes that there is no cure for it but he doesn’t mind. I will meet others today who are also undergoing the same symptoms, and a part of me knows all too well the joys and sorrows of such an experience. (think hockey and Canada)
Today his country is playing Spain in the World Cup. Over the years he has spoken about his affection for his team and today is no exception. I marvel at what lengths he has gone in order to actually wear a jersey similar to that of his team. He creatively covered over the shirt’s Adidas logo with white tape and has given the shirt a decent enough impression that it just might be an official one, at least from a distance. Like the other end of the block. He says, “The Swiss people come from the mountains. They are very simple guys. They use the same shirt for centuries.”
“For me it is a little short from one race to the other.” He is describing the many months it has taken him to recover from running the 3100 last year. He was able to complete the race last year on his second attempt. He feels that he wasn’t really able to begin serious training for the race this year until February. A cold and snowy winter in Europe did not help. Between August and February he describes a period when his time was mostly spent on relaxing, playing tennis, and riding his bike. He tells me that because of all the intensity of the weeks of running here he just needed time away from it when he returned to Switzerland.
He describes shorter runs and participating in 2 mile races but for a long period he gave little thought to the race and in turn, preparation for the next. It was the first time in 10 years he says that he stopped keeping a log book with entries of his daily mileage. He confesses that for a great part of the winter he was not focused on whether or not he would come back again. But says, ” I had the feeling that if I don’t do it this year again who knows what will happen next year.”
As for being here again, he says, “it is certainly a good place to be. It is nicely tough.” There is a sense of peace he receives here that can be found nowhere else. “When you cross the finish line it is all peace.”
“I have to say that this year is different than the 2 previous years. I had the feeling just shortly before the race that this year will be a different race for me. The last 2 years I always had a smooth start. I could run, I had no physical problems. I could take nice breaks. I could push.” This year he says that physical problems have sprouted almost within the first few hours. “It makes it right now a little more tough. Maybe it makes the journey also a little bit more faster.”
He describes that his attitude during the race is to try and give 100% of his energy. The consequences he realizes it that this can also mean that he must find just the right balance in order to do this. “You can overstretch this. I need to stay balanced and not cross the line. I need to do my best, stay cheerful and happy.” Also important is to not be too focused on the miles, “and try and enjoy myself.”
“I learned a lot from my first year.” Pushkar tells me that ultimately, though one tries to make the 3100 mile distance, the race is really a much more deeper experience than just achieving the miles. He was unable to make the mileage the first year but gained incredible experiences from just being part of it.
“It takes enormous courage to take the step.” He says that once the race actually begins the enormity of what one is attempting to achieve can be overwhelming. “Because then there is no return point.” One has to remain committed to the almost impossible goal no matter the obstacles that continue to challenge you, sometimes at almost every step of the way.
He describes one of the simplest and yet most difficult experiences of being at the race. How when taking a 15 minute nap one can doze for that short time and then automatically wake up at the right time. And yet the desire to stay longer tempts you mightily and yet one still has to resist. If one were to continue to rest, “You know it in your heart, that it will not help at all.”
At the end of our conversation I ask him to make a prediction about the outcome of the Swiss vs Spain football match that will take place later in the day. It is one in which his team is not favored against a strong Spanish team. He boldly predicts that the Swiss team will win by a score of 1-0. A few hours later his prediction comes true.
It is very close between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. Vlady is in 4th with 203 miles. Pavol is in 6th place with 200 miles.
On Tuesday night I notice that Ashprihanal has just heard a good joke. He won’t tell me what it is and insists I ask Zoran to tell me. Zoran has been here most nights to work in medical and ….tell jokes.
There is lots of construction going on around the course and so far it has had little affect on the race. Today however the fence beside the course is going to be replaced. A man from the fence company was there early asking that all things hanging on the fence be taken down.
“The invisible can be perceived. The impossible can be achieved.” Song and lyrics composed by Sri Chinmoy Performed by Enthusiasm Awakeners.
I am so happy
That I have reached at last
The point of no return
On my God-Destination-Road.
Excerpt from No Return On My God-Destination Road by Sri Chinmoy