In many ways each time a runner participates in the 3100 mile race it is like they are starting a new life. Even the most talented runner however really has no idea what this lifetime here will reveal to them. One can hope for days filled with joy and satisfaction but like most lives this is not always the case. Lessons are learned both small and grand, sweet and painful. Experience are gathered here that are either celebrated or endured and everything in between. Ones that can never be gained on any of life’s other potential paths.
True, all you have to do here is run, but the obstacles one meets here along the way cannot ever be side stepped or avoided. Pain and fatigue will be relentless opponents and one must never let down their guard for even a moment.
Stutisheel Leebedyev is perhaps the perfect example of someone who takes running the 3100 with the utmost respect and appreciation. He credits his running here with most of what he has learned about spirituality and his own inner life. For his family as well, the Self Transcendence race has created a world in which they too can join in and share this unique experience.
This year he and his daughter Alakananda are here again for the 8th year in a row. Just 2 years ago in 2009 he set a personal best of 48 days and 12 hours (averaging 63.8 miles a day). Last year the iron man from the Ukraine experienced something most of us never thought was even possible. He sustained a knee injury and was forced to retire at 1386 miles.
But like the true champion he is he has returned here once again seemingly unfazed and undaunted by an obstacle that his body simply could not overcome. Yet in the miracle, which is the 3100 mile race, one can not help but believe he learned and achieved something grand and worthy nonetheless. His body wounded but not the spirit within.
Now he starts again his beloved race which is so important to him and his family. In the months that have gone by since he may have heard the calls of fear and doubt but he has not brought them here this day. For this year is a new life and he is listening only to his own Self Transcendence goal which calls him onward and onward, forever onward.
The numbers on the board tell so much and yet so little. With so far to go and so many more days ahead it is at least clear that every one had a good to decent first day of running here. For Rupantar he can see that the great ship, which is the 3100 mile race has cast off from shore and is safely out at sea.
Even after just one day of running it can be a time for new shoes.
Nikhad is the other helper who enables the race to even start each morning.
The race will always have surprises of all shapes and sizes. That Pranjal is the leader going into day 2 with 81 miles is something however that is not unexpected. He trains harder than practically anyone else. He is always the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night.
For many the big surprise is that he has decided to ride a bicycle to the start of the race each day.
Last year, June 25th dawned bright, clear, and promising. I just happened to be there in one of those moments in which the pain in Stutisheel’s knee became unbearable. Chiropractor Mitch Proffman diagnosed the condition as exquisite pain. Meaning that even to a light touch it was unbearable.
There may have been a few hobbling laps more, but from this moment on, his race was essentially over.
Now of course he is back and showing no sign of injury or any doubts that he he is not prepared and ready to run here again. When asked what happened last year he says simply, “Ignorance attacked most powerfully.”
On his 19th day of the race he describes the beginnings of a hamstring problem. To compensate he says he started running with his leg in an unusual position. This then created so much stress that he tore a ligament in his knee.
5 days later it was just getting worse and at the start of the race that day he could barely make even one loop. For him it was a complete shock. He says there were tears and such excruciating pain he could barely even move little alone run. The race directors approached him and suggested that he give himself a rest and then see if he could continue. He could not. He says, “it was a serious injury.” After 4 months of rest however he found that once again he could run normally.
I ask Stutisheel how something like this could happen to such an experienced runner of the 3100 such as he. “The uniqueness of this race, is that everything can happen even to 6 time finishers. The main quality that is needed is determined surrender.”
He then describes a mishap that his plane had on route to NY. There was an engine failure that forced his aircraft to return back to Kiev. “I realized that I cannot do anything. I can just pray to the Supreme and accept what ever is his will.” All experiences such as this reminds him he says that the only thing left to one in such circumstances is to simply pray and meditate. After doing this he was able to once again be, “peaceful and happy, whatever will happen, will happen.”
He says that he never had any doubts about returning again and running this year. “For me it was even while I was injured and could not walk. It was already no doubt that I would start this year.” He describes also that he was recovered sufficiently early enough that he could begin his usual training for the race in February and March as he normally does each year. In order to try out his knee he ran this year in the 6 day race and says, “I was very satisfied.”
Of anything he learned from last year he says he was reminded of the importance of giving constant concentration to what he is doing while he is participating here. “All the forces that are trying to enter you, they can enter when you are weak. When you are not focused. Of course the importance of prayer, of protection is beyond measure.” He says this perspective was not a new discovery but certainly a reminder to always be vigilant and never take the race for granted.
I mention the aphorism ‘Never give up.’ “Sri chinmoy liked this attitude so much,” he says. “Even when you have a bad experience from your human point of view, but still you are not giving up. Next time something will happen that you will treasure all your life. I see that this is true for everything you do. Start again, start again, eventually victory will garland you.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/sutisheel.mp3|titles=sutisheel]
Click to play Enthusiasm Awakeners
Start to think of a new life.
Your sincere mind
Will teach you how to start.
Your pure heart
Will continue for you.
Just start to think of a new life.
Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 36, Agni Press, 1982.