It is a much different place when the Sun slips away. The heavy chore the runners bear, never an easy one, certainly never finds much additional lightness in their steps, with the inevitable arrival of the dark night.
For some it offers a cool reprieve from the heat of day and an anonymity when the shadows draw so close you can almost disappear. Invisible, but not for long, at least until you hear of course the hopeful call of the counters, who always cry out, “I got you.”
It is always becomes a softer gentler place when the darkness comes. The runners weave through meager pools of light cast down by dim street lights. And yet tonight there is a grand and special brightness glowing cool and magnificent low in the sky. At this time of night the full moon has just pushed up over the roof of Jamaica high school. It is poised and proud and it is the reason I have returned. To hopefully catch its fat pale face and the even brighter glow of the runners who keep on and on, no mater whether or not there be sun or moon or any sky above them at all. They only need the path, straight and unyielding in front of them. The journey not over until the final step is taken.
This world is watched with absolute care and attentiveness by Sandhani and Sahishnu. They have been the night watchmen/race directors for 15 years. You can see the moon just hovering over Sandhani’s head. I tried with absolute futility to capture the moon along with a runner. It always looks like an easy thing. It is so big and bright and doesn’t seem to move.
The runners move though, and this is what makes it so excruciatingly difficult. To our senses we can feel the light and see the runner and our imagination can creates such magical pictures.
That is until they come limping into receive care from Kaushal. Tonight Stutisheel has become one of the walking wounded. “The statistics are an interesting thing. In all of my 8 starts. The second full moon is always the worst day of the race. A few years ago, Kaushal discovered that the full moon had a lot of influence on me.” It is the next day when he describes how various organs simply went into distress and began to shut down. “By the end of the day I was in total disorder. But still my record remained.” He managed to somehow make 76 laps which was better than his previous bad day, 2 days ago when he could only complete 63 laps.
On the next day he says, “I am not 100 percent, but I am definitely much better. Step by step, as the full moon disappears, I will feel better and better.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/stutisheel1.mp3|titles=stutisheel]
Before we jump into the more familiar glow of the budding dawn. Just a few more pictures. Igor gets some labeling advice on a bottle of supplements. Igor had his worst day of the race for him. His stomach was bad all day and only managed to complete only 118 laps. Purna Samarpan found some new hope in his legs and in his running. He finished the day with 100 laps.
With this setback the gap between them has widened to 21 miles. The goal clearly draws nearer each day now for both of these first timers. When I ask Sarvagata about completing 2400 miles last night he says it means nothing to him. The remaining 700 miles has no significance. He stops for just a minute when the picture is taken and then slips away into the night to resume his journey.
Pranjal has to somehow keep himself patched together for another 2 weeks. His unspoken pursuit of another personal best now is fragile as a feather drifting in a breeze. He has a lead of 12 miles but has to maintain 65 miles for each day of the next 2 weeks.
The number, 116 laps, simply just jumps off the page when I see it besides Surasa’s name. You never want to to claim that any runner is predictable but Surasa has been running between 110 and 112 laps for the past mmonth. Yesterday she ran this wonderful but peculair 116 and I wonder why.
“For me it is also a wonder. Each day is a wonder when I can do so much. I am so surprised. The thing is that I was very fast in the morning. So you already have some in your pocket. Then in the evening when you go out from the last break it is much easier to do more. So because you start already over 90 laps.”
I then ask if she feels extra tired today because of it. “I don’t feel any difference.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/surasa1.mp3|titles=surasa]
I ask him about the very powerful and profound experiences that he seems to be having here. “I am still having those experiences. I think it is endless, all the time different.”
“We are quite complicated beings. So when one part of you is unsatisfied, another part is really happy, and a third part might not care at all about it.
I have asked a very personal question about a disappointment he had experienced a week ago. He had started the day with the clear goal of running 150 laps and felt he was being inwardly inspired and guided to do it. He managed to complete 147, and though it was a great number he felt that some part of himself had failed.
“I think it was the wrong thing to be disappointed even for a fleeting second. I mean, according to our philosophy, I should be happy. If you make a mistake here you have got the consequences right away.
I am so happy about that. It shapes you so fast. Hopefully I will remember all these lessons. Usually you forget all these lessons but they stay inside of you forever.”
He runs with such poise and precision it always feels to me as though I am invading his space a little when I attempt one of these little conversations. He is showing that he has amazing capacity as a multi day runner. Something that before he started was not clearly obvious. Primarily though Sarvagata is a dedicated seeker athlete. He is keenly sensitive to things both outer and inner. Every day he is pushing himself not just physically but spiritually as well. It is a delicate balance to find just the right balance. What burdens to take on and which ones to simply leave beside the path for another day. The way is straight but certainly not easy. As a runner he now is aware that the goal is very close. As a spiritual seeker his journey, like us all has very far yet to go.
“I am trying to accept it unconditionally, but it is harrrrrd.”(laughter) “It is kind of blowing me away. It is not so dramatic. I think there are a lot of things like that in your life. I mean in eveybody’s life. So it is quite an interesting experience.”
I then ask what happened when he went from 147 laps a week ago to 130 the next day. “I wouldn’t say that I went down to the 130’s. It is not so down.(laughter) I am quite happy about my 130’s, REALLY.”
“I have to say, that my body is a little bit tired, and I am a little bit tired. Yet I am still having some small experiences through the day. But I hope that I will have this big experience once again, during this race. But if not, I will be eternally grateful to God for this experience. Really, really, really, grateful. Whatever is going to happen in the next 10 or 11 days doesn’t really matter now. Because I got so much, already so much. But I can get more, I can use more.” (Laughter)
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/sarvagata2.mp3|titles=sarvagata]
“Basically I am here hoping some of this rubs off on me.” Andy Cable has been a long time supporter of the Sri Chinmoy marathon team. He has participated in several of the classic races in Flushing meadow but has also spent time over the years commuting from his home in Connecticut and making the 70 mile trek to Queens and running quite a few miles himself. As for when he will head home, he says his wife isn’t expecting him to return until late tonight.
“There is a lot going on here. People running around in circles. 2006 was the first time I came here. I met Abichal (earlier 3100 mile runner) at an event in Houston, and decided to come down here and visit him at the end of the race. I was here on his last day and saw him finish in 2006.
I ask him how he related to it the first time he came. “I don’t know if surreal is the right adjective to describe it. It is just something very interesting, and very positive.”
“I don’t think the point is to figure out what it is. But the point is to try and figure out what it is.””
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/andy.mp3|titles=andy]
Recited by Dimitry[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/poem6.mp3|titles=poem]
Click to Play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/parvati4.mp3|titles=parvati]
Another day, my heart can be
The all-giving breath of patience-tree.
Another day, my life can feed
My soulful world with its crying need.
Another day, I own to hear
God’s Voice of Light and feel Him near.
Another day, another day,
My tears shall win His blue-gold Ray.
Another day, another day,
And then, no more my ignorance-clay.
Another day, I’ll be God’s Love
Within, without, below, above.
Sri Chinmoy, My Flute, Agni Press, 1972.