Every time I try and write a little story about the 3100 mile race I hope to open up the door to some new aspect of the event. On one level it can be seen as being monotonously repetitive and that nothing new rarely happens. Fortunately I have observed that it is in the runners themselves that new lights are constantly being switched on and illuminations are being revealed all the time here. Something which is incredibly significant and personal to each one individually but also something that can move and inspire me as well.
On Friday a local news channel was here and one of the runners told me some of the questions they asked. Frankly they are probably exactly the same ones that I would use if I only came here only once. “Why do you do it? How many pairs of shoes do you wear? Do you get bored?” If you are just looking at the Self Transcendence race for just a few minutes as part of endless news cycle there is probably very little else that you can possibly absorb before the conveyor belt shifts your attention to the next new fragment of fact.
Fortunately the more time you can spend here the more you can begin to see how the runners are being transformed and how they are literally blossoming under the relentless pressure of the event. In order to even just take part they are each inevitably forced to go within to find the strength and resolve to go forever onwards. They have no choice. For us sideline cheerleaders it is always easier to relate to the happy successful moments. The ones in which it is clear that somebody is doing well and has passed beyond some barrier.
This morning it was clear that Purna Samarpan had clearly had pushed into a new realm in which the actual goal of reaching 3100 miles, after 2 unsuccessful attempts, was for the first time looking attainable. Yesterday, with just 7 minutes left on the clock before midnight a time in which the course would be closed down for the day he made it to 1500 miles. He says that in the morning he had talked to Pradeep and told him that he was going to reach 1500 miles. Pradeep than suggested, “you also might reach it.” At that moment he would have to run 65 miles or 118 laps in order to do so. Something he had not been able to do since his very first day at the race, 27 days ago.
“It wasn’t like I pushed to get there. I just ran hour by hour. By the afternoon it wasn’t a great day but it was good.” I mention that it in fact rained for about 4 hours yesterday. Also perhaps the first continuous period of rain since the race began. “I ran for 3 hours with an umbrella because it was just too hot for rain gear. So I just kept going. I have to say I love rain. In Hamburg it rains a lot. So it is a natural habitat for me.”
It was around 11 o’clock last night that he asked how many more laps he needed in order to get the 1500. “If my legs had been more tired, than I wouldn’t have done it. It just happened.” He describes how being able to stay later is becoming less of a problem for him as the race has developed. Now if he gets 5 hours he is fine, “or even a little bit less.”
His helper Rabinath left yesterday and he had gone over with Purna Samarpan the numbers that he would need to make each day in order to complete his goal. He says, “Why shouldn’t I be able to run 120 laps, I have the speed, I have the experience. It just felt like that. It should be possible. It definitely felt like some self transcendence was involved.”
As he heads into his 28th day of the race he is currently 110 miles ahead of last year. When you step back and look at the numbers from a discreet distance you can see that he only has 25 days left in order to repeat what he accomplished in 27. Then there is the rather obvious matter of the missing 100 miles which also needs to be added to the double 1500’s in order to make a total of 3100.
Being positive and optimistic however are perhaps the most crucial qualities that each runner needs to gather up within themselves each and every day. Being centered within is infinitely more crucial than what is happening on the surface. There are many days when pain and fatigue can simply drain it all away and yet each of them has to constantly reach for and find the real inside themselves. The part of their being that does not fade, that does not fear, that remains bright when even all the lights around them cease to glow.
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It has now been 4 days since Sarvagata moved into the second position. Over the past 5 days he has run the most miles on 4 occasions. His performance has been nothing short of magnificent. The slenderest of margins now separates him from race leader Ashprihanal.
Ashprihanal arrives this morning with concerns about his toe. It has been a nuisance for what seems like weeks. The worst however appears to be over. Kritagyata will later examine it and give him a green light. Despite the obvious discomfort Ashprhanal has managed to maintain an average daily mileage of at least 70 miles a day or more for the past 14 days.
The effects of yesterdays rain will soon evaporate under todays pleasant warm bright conditions.
“It was a good rain,” says Ashprihanal. Now of course it is bright and clear but yesterday in the late afternoon it started to pour almost continuously for several hours. Conditions that would definitely test how much sunshine you had kept in your pockets. “I was walking at first only. Then I was walking and running and then I was mainly running.”
He says that if he is forced to go a little slower due to bad conditions that the worst that can happen is to miss just one lap. The important thing is to remain moving.
“It sucks energy when you have an umbrella and run with it. It is heavier, and the shoes are wet they are also heavier. If it keeps raining for more than 2 hours then you have to stop.”
The discussion than goes to his toe which he says, “this morning it looked better than ever.” For the first time he was able to look under the dead skin and see that underneath it looked healthy. Latter Kritagyata will tell him that the blood flow in the area is good. The toe mending just fine.
A few days earlier things had not looked so promising and he admits to being a little worried. “Some kind of stuff that wasn’t my toe and I was disgusted. Now I am not worried about it at all. I am sure it is perfect now.”
When asked if affected his performance in any way, he says, “not much. It didn’t slow me down at all.”
He is now well past the half way point himself but is delighted to note that Pradeep was able to accomplish it late last night. He will finish 2000 miles before the end of this day. “I think tonight. After today only 1100 miles to go. That is already something.”
We discuss Sarvagata and how he is getting ever so much closer to him with each new day. “He is much faster than me, and also Igor is much faster than me. But Igor leaves at 10:30 to go home. Or also he would have crazy miles. They have been close for a long time.”
I ask him how their presence affects him. “It is a little bit of everything. But definitely it is good for me. Many years I have been really bored here. Now there are things happening every day. I might not like it that they are faster than me, and stronger in many ways. But it makes me also stronger.”
“The last 5 years I have had an average of 70 miles or more. It was only last summer that I had to take a day off. 70 for me should be quite normal. Out of last 5 years 4 years I have done it. I am not trying to kill myself. It is like a balance. To enjoy the race, and still do over 70, and learn to live with everything.”
In most years he was the fastest runner and now he sees himself being passed by Sarvagata and Igor nearly every day. “When you have the same speed as the fastest than you know that you can run steadily all day and that is good. Now they are faster and it is different. It is definitely kind of interesting. I am not so bored. I still have 1,165 miles to go.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ashprihanal.mp3|titles=ashprihanal]
One of the races greatest fans has been here for the past day. Mark Dorion has taken some time off from his regular summer job in Maine and driven the 275 miles to just be able to enjoy the race and do laps with the runners.
Baladev has been a great helper this past week. He himself has participated in the race several times but an injury has kept him from running this year.
Recited by Purna- Samarpan
click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/poem.mp3|titles=poem]
Right click on any picture to make larger.
Click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/parvatil.mp3|titles=parvatil]
Act as strictly as possible.
Run as quickly as possible.
Your goal will not remain
A far cry.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 21, Agni Press, 2001.