July 12: Just Love It

In their first 14 days here each of the top 3 runners had, what you could easily call, good starts.  On day 15 each of them would pass beyond the 1,000 mile mark and then from this moment on something inexplicably changed for all of them.  Since then the level of effort and overall intensity has risen to an astonishing new height.  Igor is the man currently holding down the 3rd position but really barely a slight breeze separates one from the other.

On day 15 Igor entered the rarefied atmosphere of the 130 lap per day club and since then has shown no interest in easing back on what appears to be a full throttle drive to the finish line.  Which, at the start of day 31 is still 1000 miles away.  This means that each day he has been consistently running at least 70 miles a day.  It was hot yesterday and the humidity has crept over everyone with its relentless stifling weight.  In the mornings Igor most often arrives looking tired and drained.  Once the day starts however he just seems able to go and go.  He tells me that it is in the night time that he feels most awake and alive.

He is not comfortable with his English and this just adds to the quietness and stillness that seems to constantly envelop him.  With some translation help from Stutisheel he explains, “there are times when I feel very good inside and I don’t want to speak to anybody.  Just be in myself.”  I ask him if this is one of those occasions, and he tells me that he is still waking up.  This appears to be a time when a little joking makes him feel more alert.

Yesterday was the first really hot day on the course, he says it was also his hardest day.  “Today will be better.”

The humidity was oppressive and appears as though a few more days of it remains.  Despite this he still managed 130 laps.  “I also do not want to give up.  So I am trying not to give up, and do my best.  Yesterday I stayed longer on the course then usual.  Usually I leave at 10:30, yesterday I stayed until 11:00.”

For me he is a marvelous enigma.  With the language barrier it is hard to know exactly how his race is going but he seems more than content with this powerful world that he is now fully engaged in.  He expresses a lot though with his quiet smiles and bright eyes. His is a calm and steady presence.  At the same time he communicates all that he needs to with his running.  He accumulates laps with conveyor belt speed and consistency.

I tell him that many people are very inspired and encouraged by what he is doing here.  He says, “I feel that, and I am very grateful.”

click to play interview


Igor is not the only sleepy runner who arrives and has to face a long day of running.  Ashprihanal had his second big day in a row.  Another day of 141 laps.  When someone jokes, “is that the best you can do?”  He says, “that is all I have.”  An important note is that 2 races ago he ran 24 days straight of 70 plus miles of running a day.  If he is able to continue he will reach that same level in just over a week more.

Yesterday Purna Samarpan’s dreams were given a serious bump by the heat.  When I went later in the day he was really suffering with the humidity.  Bowed but not broken he is trying to use the early cooler hours to accumulate the miles.  Pradeep seems to be moving with renewed confidence about reaching the goal.

In just a few minutes everything changes here.









The runners senses are very alert and more aware than you would think, for those who have run thousands of miles.  Someone points out that the little clock by the board is slightly slow.  Rupantar adjusts it right away.

It is only in this brief few minutes in the morning when the spell of tranquility cannot be broken.









Atmavir suffers from the summer heat and humidity perhaps more than most.  Meanwhile Surasa continues to impress and inspire all, with her model consistency and unflappable poise.


Day 31














Just about one week ago something changed in Pranjal’s race but it certainly most definitely wasn’t his attitude.  He continues to be tirelessly committed to what he is doing and also unfailingly content with whatever comes his way.  His focus is so unflinchingly positive that whenever I am around him I always wish this quality was somehow transferable.  Perhaps even replicated in a lab and then freely distributed to those of us who inevitably make the regular unfortunate  acquaintance of hesitation and lethargy.

He seems to be having some serious problems with his feet and yet never for a moment bemoans his fate or be tempted to not still give his maximum effort.  You can see however that particularly in the morning he is spending more and more time working on his feet.  His stride clearly shows that his feet must be bothering him tremendously, but what is more worrisome to his admirers is that his lap count has drifted backwards from the low 120’s to now about an average of 110 laps a day.

The edge he had over his last years total is inexorably sliding backwards and as he starts his 31st day he is now just 20 miles ahead of last year.  A foot doctor had visited the race a few days ago and when asked what he said to him, his response, “you have beautiful feet.”

When asked to be more specific he says, “he cut my toenail nice and deep.  Because it was cutting into my skin.”  He then adds, which could be a joke, “he took big pliers and took it out.”

When asked the next logical question.  Did it really hurt?  He hems and haws, and reluctantly says, “a little bit.  Not bad.  He was pretty good at it.”

The toenail however was not his chief problem.  He says that it had only been a problem when he accidentally were to hit it from the side.

What he says is his main problem is, “there are blisters everywhere.  I used to have it in the beginning of the race.  This year it comes a little bit late.”  When that used to happen they would gradually disappear.  As for this year, “they will be there a few more days and then it will get better.”

He recognizes of course that it has slowed him down.  It is hard to say how painful it actually is for him but my guess is that it is quite a bit.  “I am running slower.  I have to take more time to fix it.  So everything is slow now.  In the morning it takes now almost half an hour to fix the feet.  And also during the break I have to take it down and fix it again.  It takes some time.  So then I am loosing the laps.  I am also slower because it is hurting.  I cannot run the way I want to, especially in the evenings.  Usually it is hurting more in the evenings.”

Given the opportunity to complain he simply doesn’t.  He suggests simply that anyone can get a blister at any time when they run long and hard.  The Doctor he said really couldn’t help with the blisters because he says when they are in deep and in the bottom of your foot there is little that they can do about it.  “In its time the best thing you can do is put your feet up and do nothing.  It would be the fastest way to cure it.  But because I have to run here it will take much longer to heal.  When asked if he is bothered by the fact that each and every step here must be painful he admits only, “it is distracting.”

I mention that Purna Samarpan had calculated that it took him aproximately 970 steps to go around the course once.  I remark that that has to add up to a lot of pounding on his tender feet.  Curious I wonder what he would recommend to others who were also suffering from pain.  He says simply, “just love it.  I don’t know.  Everybody feels pain in a different way.  Everybody has to find their own way how to deal with it.”

I suggest that most people who experience pain simply stop what they are doing if it gives them pain.  “It would be the best also here, but you have no chance to stop.  You have to run, and live with the pain.”  When asked if he could be making his condition actually worse he admits, “it could happen, but I am taking it as it is.  If it gets worse I will have to be even slower.  Now I can still run with it so I am running.  There is not much to think about.  I don’t want to bother myself and think about the things that I cannot change.  It is as it is.”

“My goal is to do every day as much as I can.  At this point in the race this is the maximum of what I can do.  I am happy with this.  At the end how it will finish I will see.”

He always appears content and cheerful but I ask him if there are times when he is more happier than other times.   “I am always really happy, when I am not really dead.”

We then come around the corner by the Grand central service road.  There are a number of telephone poles there and he remembers how he and the other runners used to take the little labels of the fruits Sri Chinmoy used to give them when he visited the race every day.  It was a spontaneous gesture and for years they stuck there.  It would be difficult to find any evidence of their existence now.  But still a few of the runners who ran back then remember that this is what they all used to do.  How a little paper label would remind them all of the founder of the race and how his inspiration helped them keep going.

Photo by Jowan

He tells me about his second race here in which he was running on the last day before the cut off would come.  On one of the poles was a little poster with Sri Chinmoy’s picture on it advertising some concert that was coming soon.  On that day though Pranjal recalls simply, “I was dying.  At that point I said to myself, I cannot do it, and it just came from within.  You CAN do it.   Because you are doing it for me.”

Click to play interview


Poem of the Day

Recited by Niriha


Pradhan is in town for a few days to give some chiropractic adjustments.  This morning his table is open for business and he is a very popular fellow.









Enthusiasm Awakeners

Click to play






If you want to understand a thing
Sooner than the soonest,
Then do not try to interpret it.
Just love it
And become inseparably one with it.


Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 81, Agni Press, 1983.

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