There are 4 sharp corners on the course of the 3100 mile race. To most, this aspect might also seem to be an additional cruel torment, added on to an already formidable list of less than desirable qualities of the loop. This little block in Queens already has a slim to none chance that it will ever be listed in any NY guide books as a must see place to visit when vacationing in the Big Apple.
Yet 11 runners are here on the course even now, on this the race’s 14th summer. For them and the revolving crew who looks after them, the place is a virtual home. One in which the runners have to circumambulate each day around it for something like 18 hours. To have to make a radical pivot several times a lap, and then God knows how many times a day could be perceived as a torture, that could be potentially listed in the Geneva convention.
The surface of the loop itself is already is as unforgiving and formidable as a concrete jungle. Many voices have been heard who clamor about the monotony of innumerable turns, and wonder aloud at how great it would be to set up the race as a point to point event. One in which the scenery is constantly changing, from one dreamy pastoral landscape to the next. Others envision a idyllic park, buried in some cool corner of Queens which perhaps would also be more inviting. Logistics aside, the Self-Transcendence race is not about sight seeing and personal enjoyment. For those whose criteria demands these conditions, the 3100 will never be the race for you.
In this its 14th year the runners have described the course in many ways. On each and every occasion, the term used most often is, ‘the sacred loop.’ Those who come back again and again, clearly recognize that the inspiration that calls them here is as significant as any holy pilgrimage. There are no prostrations, no ceremony of any kind, it is instead an all encompassing dedication of the complete being; body, mind, and heart, to a much higher purpose, than can be seen with our mental vision.
The runners of course may look quite ordinary at times. On the surface you might be lulled into perceiving that nothing much special is happening here. Rules of fashion and style are not applicable. The unbelievable exposure to the elements, to your own body’s crying fatigue, and yes the twists that mark the unforgiving corners of the course mean that most often no one looks very pretty or fashionable.
The only way of making a true comparison of the Self Transcendence race is to imagine it, less as a sporting event, than as a pilgrimage. Imagine taking a holy trek around the 14km distance at the base of Arunachala in India. Doing it with devotion, but also with dynamism, and courage. Letting go of all the things in your life that stop you from being the best that you can be.
Here the 11 runners, and many more over the years, have attempted to constantly to stay in tune with their inner joyousness, while simultaneously being as dedicated to their goals as one seeker can possibly be. Aspiring for something just beyond the barrier of impossibility and perhaps just around the next turn.
Continue reading “Turns”