“I came here thinking that I wanted to try new things. I wanted to find challenges that I can’t overcome. I am always looking to test my limits, and I was very excited about trying a multi day. I have always been pretty comfortable in doing high mileage in training.
In training for 100 mile races I am always running over 150 miles a week. I run doubles and sometimes triples, and after running some of my 100 mile races I have felt extraordinarily good the next day, almost fresh. So I figured a 6 day may be something I am just built for.”
When the 6 day race started yesterday Michael Arnstein, simply slipped into a higher gear than everybody else and literally left the other 35 runners behind. It was almost as though he had entered some completely different event then the rest of the field who were, for a time at least, simply sharing the track with him.
Yet a multi day race is rarely conquered by raw power. Nature as well stepped into the mix and unleashed 2 inches of torrential rain accompanied by powerful gusts. It was a wake up call for any who thought the race would be easy, throughout the long stormy night it certainly wasn’t. Michael ran hard for the first 12 hours and then took a break. One so long that for any other athlete it could have been the stuff that breaks dreams and hearts.
Yet now it is late on Monday afternoon and Michael is still here. Like the old fable of the tortoise and the speedy hare Michael for now, finds himself far back in the field. I don’t know how far the gap was earlier in the day, but for now he is nearly 40 miles behind the leader. An insurmountable distance if mathematicians and statisticians ruled the universe. They don’t thankfully and this rabbit named Michael Arnstein has successfully pushed back whatever devils or discomfort that pulled him away and has once again fully entered the race.
By entering the 6 day race he has absolutely found a new challenge that does not yield an inch to the timid or the foolish. He has made short work of the many 100 mile races he has run, and he may as well in the next few days, figure out and conquer the 6 day event here. If he doesn’t he has at least pushed back a challenge in his first day that maybe he has never had to confront in his young running career ever before. He was pummeled by adversity and picked himself up and simply come out and gone back to work.
“It may be the first balance point in this 6 day race, where it comes that point where you are balancing between being very very hard and very very enjoyable. Because, it cannot get worse. So then it has to become fun.”
“Last night would be like a good summer’s day in Scandinavia, and I don’t like summer in Scandinavia. It was pouring down, and I think many of us were pretty miserable.” He describes how in these conditions practically everything he had became soaked. “I think it is still a thing that you can get used to that you can’t get comfortable with.”
“I think there are sometimes fun that are not only superficial but also goes deeper, that requires suffering also. You don’t get one without the other.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Jesper.mp3|titles=Jesper]
Nidhruvi is comfortably holding onto 3rd in the women’s 10 day race by consistently running 63 miles a day.
“Yeah it was quite a nice night.” Laughs
Last year Dipali, like all the runners, had perhaps a record breaking stretch of miserable weather. Of last night, “I think it was a tip over that. It was really bitterly cold. We were all pretty much soaked from noon on, and we kept running out of rain gear. That was the next problem.”
I suggest that the rain is scheduled to stop shortly. “The dry is good, but the cold is still not good.”
“I like warm weather but that is the beauty of being a multiday runner. You take what you have and what you get. You have to be surrendered.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Dipali1.mp3|titles=Dipali]
“The longest I have run and kept moving is 25 and a half hours when I tried to do the Spartathlon in Greece, but I didn’t finish that race. that took place last September 2011. I had a severe sensitivity in the bottom of my feet. Something I hadn’t experienced before trying to be on my feet for so long. It hurt to stand. Forget about walking I literally couldn’t move. So I had to stop.”
He then explains what happened to him last night. “Basically I stuck it out the first 12 hours. It was really bad, it was really hard on me. I am a runner who can run well under good conditions. Variables are if I am like too cold if I don’t have food, or even if I get too hot. I suffer tremendously. I don’t have the ability to get through those things very well. From my past experiences.”
“Yesterday running for 12 1/2 hours, with completely soaking wet, and freezing hands and feet. I came down with a fever this morning. I couldn’t run. My immune system is just really trashed. ”
“I put in 20 miles in about 5 hours, and I was feverish. I knew I just had to go to sleep. I didn’t want to stop I just went to sleep for the last 2 hours, and now, I feel great.”
“I am really fascinated with the Sri Chinmoy races, and what is the greater purpose behind these events. It is self exploration. I don’t think I understand at a level that others who do these races, what transcendence means. Part of me wants to give up in the 6 day right now. What gives me motivation right now is to see people who don’t stop. They will sleep and rest a minimal amount because they have a goal of not just reaching a certain mileage distance. They want to reach a state of being, a state of existence. I haven’t allowed myself to try and experience that yet. When I get really tired and uncomfortable I kind of give up. It troubles me a lot. It is a struggle that I am dealing with right now.”
“Under all odds is what I like to succeed at. Right now the 6 day is something that I want to enjoy and I don’t want to suffer too much because I am hoping I will learn from the experience, and I will be able to come back and give it a real good shot in the future. Right now it is kind of damage control. I don’t want to be too miserable where I say never again.”
“I figured I would have success if I could run about 400 miles, that is about 67 miles a day. I felt it would be hard but not too difficult. The first day really wore me done. I wish it hadn’t happened on the first day.”
“You guys give me a lot of inspiration, but this here is a different sport than what I am used to. A 100 mile run is like a sprint compared to this.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Michael.mp3|titles=Michael]
A film crew has been following Ashprihanl for several days now even since before he started running yesterday. The director of the film is Mika Tannila and I had a chance to ask him what he is trying to accomplish.
“As many times when making films you don’t know the story, you don’t know exactly what you are trying to do or prove with the film. So it is an experiment and adventure for us as well. We have been shooting and this is now the 3rd day. It started one day before the race. It is very interesting to work with Ashprihanal.
He first got interested in ultra races about 2 years ago. He was curious as to what the spiritual idea was behind it. “Because if you talk about a 10 race, 6 day race, the first question is, What is the point? So I got interested in the spiritual and let’s say the intellectual side of this event.”
He says that despite his incredible record of accomplishments very few in Finland have heard of Ashprihanal. He suggests that most people there are looking at quick events like Basketball and hockey which he describes as entertaining. “This is not entertainment.”
“I am totally flabbergasted, overwhelmed about the whole thing. It was a nasty bad thing when it rained when the 6 day started. It kept on raining so much last night. I am trying to figure out myself what is the value, the meaning of this kind of event, in a larger scale, for let’s say human kind, human race. I think this kind of thing has strong symbolic value. I feel it is not about who is the winner and what is the exact result. It is also a kind of meditation. This film is trying to go into the mind of an ultra runner.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Mika-Taanila.mp3|titles=Mika Taanila]
On Monday afternoon I come back to the race and find William Sichel’s helper, Alan Young busy writing down information. He says, “this is a record of everything he has eaten and drank. It has his mileage splits and all the rest of it. What we discovered 4 or 5 years back was a lot we learned. The joke is we went from mouthfuls to milliliters.
Well I have been doing this since 2004, my worst was probably a 6 day in Monaco, where for 3 days it rained. But it wasn’t as cold and as windy as it was here. It was a very very tough night to stay out. There is no bad weather there is only poor clothing.”
He says William was not set back by the conditions last night. “It would have been worse if it had been day 4 or 5.”
“It has been a very hard start but we just grind away. Take every day every lap as it comes. We are here to enjoy ourselves, and watch, and look, and perhaps learn as well.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Alan-Young.mp3|titles=Alan Young]
In the outer world
Willingness to learn
Is a good start.
In the inner world
Willingness to learn
Is a splendid victory.