“I don’t know. I just did it. I don’t think about it. I am just running.” Pranjal starts day 48 with just 18 miles more to run. When he crosses the line in just a few hours he will once again better his timing on the course. It is his 6th straight year here and if he maintains his pace he will break his personal record from last year by more than a day.
This is very much his world here. Over the past 48 days no one has ever arrived on the course before him and he has generally been the last one to leave at night. He seems to try and take advantage of every possible available moment in which it is permissible to run. If the 3100 was always difficult in past years the race this summer has been a nightmare of heat and humidity. For a big man like himself there had to be long stretches of absolute and utter torture in order to somehow average 65 plus miles a day. The reason he succeeds so well is simple. “I don’t like easy things.”
“I like when you have to really fight for something. You get more happiness from that. When people try to have life as easy as possible, I don’t think it is right. You will not get the right experiences from that. You will get more experiences from the obstacle that you must go over.”
We talk about how his spiritual teacher always set new and higher goals for himself right up until his final days. Pranjal models himself very much on the importance of trying to better yourself in every possible way. “This race is the best for that. This is the main point of the race. It is not what you do, You have to do your best. It does not matter on the outer result. When you try your best this is the real goal.”
He feels that all his capacity, endurance, and energy comes from within. “The problem is that people are thinking too much about it. This energy is always inside. Your mind always gives you some boundaries.” Once one does this he believes than the possibilities around us become unlimited. There is nothing that we then cannot accomplish. “What is holding us back is our mind. When you go beyond the mind you can find that there is much more.”
It has been 3 years now since Sri Chinmoy was last able to come. Like all who continue to run here he is adamant about the feeling that all have expressed that his presence is still very much alive here. “This is his race. His spirit is always here. This course is very special, like sacred. You can really feel his energy here. I think this is what draws people here. They can really experience his consciousness here. I always felt here that his energy was more stronger here.”
He describes this experience as being totally an inner reality. He describes that on the surface the course can appear to be utter bedlam. With kids playing basketball, the traffic, construction on the field, and all the myriad of distractions and eruptions that take place in and around the area all day long. It cannot be seen only felt. “This energy is somewhere inside.”
In all the many mornings I have come here, I have never ever been able to do this before. That is get to the race before him. You could not call it sleeping in because he will arrive with plenty of time before the start. But it is 5:45 and as I make my way to the start Pranjal’s bike glides up past me.
He sits every day in the last chair at the last table. The first thing he does is prepare his feet that have been scuffed and shuffled in every possible way that only a big man can do.
Every morning he eats a snickers candy bar and reads the results. In just a few minutes more he will stand quietly at the starting line with no thoughts at all. Just listening to the sound of his silent heart’s beauty.
He will run for 4 hours more and than it will be over. At least for today. Tomorrow he will run again, but towards a different goal. He will be keeping alive a streak of more than 2 years of running every day. His running journey will not end any time soon.
Start Day 48
There are 2 notable absences on the starting line this morning. As the final few days count down the number will dwindle even further. I ask Rupantar to describe the race this year, and he says, “It has been like survival. Because of the extreme weather. We had a mugging on the course. We had a bomb scare and the bomb squad came. (just a bag somebody left) We had a knifing on the course. With the construction in the field it has created dust and with the wind it has been like the Sahara desert. Hottest July in record. We survived. It was a survival race.”
Rupantar loves the race and despite the long list of dramatic events, and other than the heat, none of these things affected the performance of the runners. This morning he says, “there is less energy with 2 runners finishing. Everyone knows it is coming to an end soon. So there is a general sigh of relief and gladness.”
“This is done by one of the little children in the neighborhood.” He is pointing to some art work that has been attached to the fence sometime late yesterday. He calls it, “the unofficial banner of the race.” He then talks about all the people he has seen who show up over the course of the race. “This is the center of the universe for a little while.”
Asprihanal has come back to enjoy the singing of the Enthusiasm Awakeners. Later he and his brother will go off to the beach.
The happiness of the heart
expedites the speed of the body.
Poem of the Day by Sri Chinmoy
written July 30th 2007
Niriha recites the poem this morning and says, “Sri Chinmoy did say to each of the runners. He practically begged them to smile. You will do so much better if you smile. It will help you so much. This poem is appropriate for that. He said that to them many many times.”
For herself she is doing a pretty good job this morning as well. “We have 2 finishers and another on the way. Especially considering this has been the most difficult summer imaginable for them. The heat, the construction, many extra steps taken because of obstruction on their course. So there is really something to smile about this year that they have persevered, and they have been such troopers.”
Picture by Alakananda
Now that I am at my Supreme Lords
To frighten ignorance night,
He wants me to roar and roar.
Song composed by Sri Chinmoy
Performed by Enthusiasm Awakeners.
“Life and sports cannot be separated; they are one. As a matter of fact, life itself is a game. This game can be played extremely well, provided the player develops consciously or unconsciously the capacity to invoke the transcendental energy which is always manifested in action.
In the life-game, each soul is running consciously or unconsciously toward the goal of inner perfection. There is not a single individual who has not left the starting point. Now, one individual may be behind another in the Godward race, but all are making progress and running toward the same goal.”
Excerpt from The Outer Running And The Inner Running by Sri Chinmoy