July 21: Every Day A New Day

Sometime 2 days ago Ashprihanl’s check engine light had to flicker on.  He was pushing himself to a new record that day, having completed 24 straight days of 70 miles or more per day.  With just a little more than 300 miles to go he could literally see the finish line in front of him.  At his current pace it was now just a few days off.  The footsteps of the young Ukranians had gradually drifted back to what had to be a comfortable distance behind him.  He had to feel that on this his 11th year here he would not just have another victory but also a new personal best.

The human body is not as precise as the engineering of even an inexpensive car.  We don’t come with owner’s manuals, service schedules, or on board lights and dials of any kind.  Somewhere though, deep within Ashprihanal’s brain, some little neuron had to be sparking a danger signal.  It was trying to tell him to check his fluid intake or slow down, or perhaps simply a combination of the 2.

The conditions now on the course are atrocious.  It has been and continues to be so hot that you can barely take in enough fluid to complete even just one short lap.  Everyone is sweating continually but you cannot cool because the moisture simply does not evaporate in the stifling humidity. By late yesterday afternoon Ashprihanal’s body simply could not go on.  He had pushed beyond the point of recovering by sitting in the shade and drinking many cups of water.

He was taken to a local hospital and given 2 liters of fluid intravenously.  He spent most of the night there and yet he showed up again like the true champion he is, at the race again this morning.  As he starts his day 40 he is cheerful, more than a little tired, and shaken up by what has to be a blow to his race dreams.

“I had a little bit of a problem but it was part of the race.  There are bad days and good days.  It probably started the day before, kind of.  I think it was heat exhaustion.”

I ask him if he had pushed himself to hard in order to get his new record of 24 days.  “It is not possible, because I have been averaging for the whole race, about 72, before the problem.”  He describes how on the night he completed the record he felt comfortable and even went home early.  “If I had been doing 75 then I would have been pushing.  If I just do 128 laps then I don’t think of that as pushing.  Of course who knows what happens, mentally or something.  But miles wise it was not.”

I wonder if he was taking in enough fluids.  “Same as always.  I drink every lap.  So I don’t remember having a change in that way.  That is my problem.  I don’t really see any clear reason.  I don’t see, I should have done that different, or that different.  The miles were not that high.  I don’t really see what I did wrong.”

“I am just really sleepy.  I got home at 3:30 in the morning and at 5:30 Rupantar picked me up.    Not far to go now.  That is the good thing.”

click to play interview


Sarvagata starts day 40 with what has to be a surprising new perspective.  Yesterday he was able to complete 130 laps.  Which represents another day of 71 miles.  In front of him, by just 13 miles is the great veteran Ashprihanal who is back on the course, but in what condition.  Close behind him is friend and fellow Ukrainian Igor, now just 33 miles away.


Day 40





Stutisheel continues to endure his own trials and burdens.  Each lap seems hard little alone piling up the miles.  I am with him last night at the precisely the moment he passes 63 laps.  Which now ranks as his all around worst day of the race.  It took place just 3 days earlier.  He goes on to complete 78 laps for the day(42 miles) He has yet to find the spark and magic which can get him back up to speed. He has 750 miles to go.

“I have come here every day.   More than 2 weeks.”  Last night I spoke with Martin Strel, the great Slovenian distance swimmer.  He has been a regular and imposing figure on the sidelines of the race for many evenings.  He has been staying close by and I ask him what draws him here.  “For me it is an important feeling.  I need straight contact with people.”

He seems fascinated by all the goings on that happen in and about the camp.  He never seems to loose contact with the runners who continually chug past.  “We are very close, I am in the water, and they are on the track.” (laughter) “Except this concrete is not the best.”

“I have been a professional swimmer for 33 years.”  I ask what he sees that is similar between himself and the 10 runners.  “Don’t give up that is the first answer to the question, even if you are tired.  I know very well that they are tired.”

“They have problems, every day is different, every day is a new day.    Every day is a lucky day for everyone.  Same for me when I swam the Amazon.  Every day was extremely lucky for me.  Because my swim was pretty risky.  I have to motivate myself.”

“Physical strength is very important but mental strength is much more.  If you are very strong mentally you can do a lot and well, and much easier.  If you are not strong mentally then your job is very hard.”

“I am swimming for peace, friendship and clean waters.  I enjoy what I am doing.  I can say, that it is not for fun.  It is my job.  I would like to change this world a little. To raise awareness of clean water and to send the message everywhere of how to save this world.  For me money is not important.  Even though for many many people money is very important.  For my life no.”

I ask him how he understands the expression self transcendence.  He tells me about the time he spent studying meditation.  He feels that he knows better now why we need it and how it is important in our lives.

“Now I can say that I am strong.  I can do whatever I like.  I can swim around the world.  I can do this, but the question is why?  Is this important, or not?  If it is important for this world then I can do it.  If it is not important now than it is not necessary to swim around the world.”

He has met many other great athletes.  He finds a common bond with all of them.  “I have talked to them and we are very close.  Our life is simple, our food is simple, we do not need so much for a good life.  This is my message for everyone.”
“Sri Chinmoy and me were together a couple of times.  He lifted me a couple of times too.  We have a lot in common.  Sri Chinmoy was a musician and I am a musician too.  Good athlete and I am an athlete too.  Our life is very simple.  For a good life you don’t need so much.”

His next project will be swimming the Mackenzie river in Northern Canada.  It is a very cold water swim in water temperatures that only reach into the high 40’s and low 50’s.  All the planning is yet to be finalized but he is anticipating a new film as well being sponsored by the National Geographic.  It will also include learning more about the native people in the region.  “I am looking forward to seeing these people.  To make a film about this nice place, pretty clean.”

Martin is now 57 and I ask him how long he can continue his great swimming exploits.  “My mind is strong and stronger.  I enjoy life.  I enjoy being with people, and I enjoy doing something new for people.  New destinations, new places.  To find what we need today, what people need.  So meditation, and don’t give up.  Even if you have a lot of problems.  This world is pretty nice if you understand what to do.”

click to play interview


This morning a tired but cheerful Ashprihanal starts the day.  After doing just 15 laps he has to leave the course and rest.  He vows to return again at about 6:30 in the evening.  In the morning he was comfortably walking with Ananda Lahari.  Always one who has some inspiring comments.  He mentions a question that was once asked of Sri Chinmoy about playing tennis.  He says that he gave two answers.  One, that you should pray to God to be able to play your best.  The other way, is to simply pray to God that he should play in and through you.  The result you should always place at the feet of the Supreme.

“This helped me to have gratitude for each step.”

Kaushal continues to try and help the runners the best way that he can.  Purna Samarpan retired from the race 2 days ago due to the problem with his leg.  Here he is putting supplements into little bags for Pradeep.

The board this afternoon shows just how quickly everything changes.  Sarvagata is now the race leader.

Poem of the Day

Recited by Samahita and Antana





Enthusiasm Awakeners

Click to play






Each prayer

Heralds a new day of hope.

Each meditation

Heralds a new day of promise.

Each realisation

Heralds a new life of the Supreme.


Sri Chinmoy, Three Hundred Sixty-Five Father’s Day Prayers, Agni Press, 1974.

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