It is certainly a most difficult thing to run a 10 day race and yet sometimes the journey just to get to the starting line can be longer and even more difficult. Nidhruvi Zimmerman is now well into her second day on the course and she is running comfortably and confidently just as one would expect this tremendously gifted and experienced multi day runner to do.
At 46 she should be at her peak but instead this race represents a comeback for this lady from Vienna. The past 10 years have been much tougher than the 10 days now slipping comfortably away beneath her relentless strides. Over that long decade injury made it impossible for her to compete in any distance events at all. She says now though, ” I could never get rid of the running world. I always loved the long distance running. But because of injury I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But after many experiences. I decided just to do it any way. Doesn’t mater what. Just to be ready and see if I still belong to the long distance world. Why not”
From 1995 until 2002 Nidhruvi appeared regularly at the races here. Her accomplishments at events above 6 days are extraordinary and yet now she runs with quite a different perspective. Those long lean years that must have at times felt like an eternity are now clearly over. “I am just grateful grateful, from the very depths of my heart.”
As this picture of the board was taken in the late afternoon it is difficult to calculate exactly what the runners totals are for the first 24 hours. As there are many days of running still ahead it is still quite clear that both Vasu for the men and Kaneenika for the women are going to remain significant contenders.
“It is all grace,” says Vasu Duzhiy who is setting a blistering pace in his first 10 day race. This 47 year old runner from St. Petersburg Russia has his sites really set on an even more challenging event, The Self Transcendence 3100 mile race. This race he tells me is simply a preparation for that one and perhaps simply demonstrate that he has the capacity for the ultimate in multi day running races.
He has run the 6 day race previously and I ask him a not so brilliant question. Is the 10 day race harder than the 6 day, “I don’t know yet, it is only the 2nd day. I am trying to do my best.”
He tells me that he does not have any strategy or plans on how to run the race. He did take a 4 hour rest break last night but simply will continue to run until he is inspired to break. “I have no plan my soul has a plan.”
Sometimes companionship takes precedent over fast pacing.
While I am there this afternoon Elena Kareva has a little celebration with her crew as she completes 100 miles.
“The main thing is to have fun and be with my family. If I could do a good job on the field that would be okay too.” For 51 year old Michel Guoin the 10 day race has become a yearly tradition. They have come and taken part in the race 5 years in a row. It is amazing to see how his son Tommy has grown so much in that time and one cannot help but wonder how many other families could be so dedicated to such a difficult undertaking and yet they all seem to thrive here and in fact in many ways become part of a much larger family as well.
In this interval Michel has never lost sight of bettering his personal best that he achieved on his very first year. A goal that up until now has remained illusive but one in which he has yet to come close to giving up on. Perhaps there is more important and less defined experience that is fulfilling and inspiring the family to come back so often over the years.
He tells me that for the last 2 years in a row he has caught a bad cold which has been a real problem with his chances of running at his very best. He tells me now, “I am well prepared for the race and I think it will be a great race.” One thing he has done differently this year he says is simply to try and rest more before coming and yet still keep up the intensity of his training.
When I ask him why run the 10 day race instead of the 6 he tells me that whenever he goes somewhere he likes to take the longest route. “The worst part is to get there,” he laughs. “I do prefer the longest distance.”
His goal he says, “I will try and beat my first race, it was my best one, since coming here. It was 541 miles.” His determination is evident, “I will try again and again.”
Although he clearly is prepared to work hard himself he makes sure that his family does not feel obligated to accept the same pressure. At this moment Tommy has joined us. “I have told him to relax and visit more, and get his own training in.”
As for Michel’s progress, “I am fine with my totals so far. I have looked at my stats for the past few years and I have picked the best strategy for me. Start slow and start steady.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Michele1.mp3|titles=Michele]
The presence and inspiration of Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the marathon team, can be felt here in so many ways. He came several times a day when the race was going on. During the race in 2000 he wrote a poem that he dedicated to the event, one which embraced the heights of his philosophy and one that addressed the practical challenge of running night and day.
“I am just speechless because I never thought. I mean it is just the first day passed, but it is going so well. I am just so grateful, I don’t know any other word.” You cannot help but be impressed with her achievement of being able to run here again after such a long time. In 2002, her last race, she ran 1300 miles in 18 days and 20 hours. Almost an eternity ago.
Though her injury prevented from physically being able to train and run she says, “I always had hope. I am person who never gives up.”
“I belong here too. Yesterday at the start, I mean I never cry, but just before we started, when we had the silent minute. Tears were rolling down, I couldn’t believe it. I guess my soul was just so grateful that I could be here.”
Her formula for these events, “too have faith. Never give up. Try your best, but don’t kill yourself. Stay happy, be joyful, and be grateful.” She also tries to simply offer up each and every step and each and every lap and offer gratitude that she is simply able to do it. She has no distance goal that she hopes to achieve this time round. “This for me is the first try after so many years, and I am taking it easier, much easier. This is my plan, and when the push comes from within to do more, I will do it.”
Before I leave I watch as Nidhruvi completes her first 100 miles.
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Nidhruvi.mp3|titles=Nidhruvi]
There is always hope
For any man
Who can pitifully cry in the morning
And heartily laugh in the evening.