Sometime yesterday Nirbhasa Magee got inspired. Now not just one of those little aw shucks kind of inspirations but one of the really really big kinds. The sort of inspiration that gets you right to the very top of a mountain. He had already taken a huge risk just by entering the 10 day race, since he had never run a multi day race before.
The thought of doing one though had been nagging at him inside for a little while. Many if not most others could have simply played it safe and shut the door on such a crazy thing like running for 10 days. At the very most he could have selected something like the 6 day, just a little easier.
And to be honest about the situation, in the great scheme of things he wasn’t as well trained and experienced as many of the elite runners were who run the 6 and 10 day self transcendence races. So really the best he could hope for was to stick it out and make it comfortably into the final hours of the last day and then sit in a chair and enjoy the sun in the park.
In professional sports we can marvel at athletes pure strength, speed, and agility. Great competition reveals to us arm chair mortals just how wonderful the human body can be when it is trained, naturally talented, and supremely focused on winning. Nirbhasa like all the other runners here are remarkable athletes, but their focus is far far from winning or loosing, or becoming rich and famous. The 82 runners who have been here so long, suffered so much, and gone so far are seeking something else. Not that they all wouldn’t want to be stronger and faster than they already are but something more important is happening inside of each and every one of them.
Now what happened to Nirbhasa was that he got this one inspiration to finish the race with 600 miles, which would be a terrific achievement. But then sometime last night he got another inspiration that was just plain crazy. If he had slowed down a step or stopped to really think about it, he could have simply discarded the inspiration and laughed it off as just plain insanity.
For what happened under the full moon bright sky, was that Usika suggested to Nirbhasa that he should finish the race with 1000 km. Which theoretically was really a beautiful thought, except for one thing. It would mean that over the last 24 hours he would need to run 91 miles. An impossible total if you consider that it was more than 24 miles further than he had run on even his best day. And one thing more, nobody else in the race had run anything like 90 miles since the very first day of running.
By no means does self transcendence
Mean an impossible task,
And possibility can and must reach
Self transcendence shore.……Sri Chinmoy
“I have a target of 622, which is a 1000 km. We’ll see, I am kind of going at the pace for it. I see if I can hold it for the 2 hours till the finish.” I am running at an incredible clip to keep up with Nirbhasa and he says that in those last 2 hours he has to run 10 miles. “If I get it well and good and if I don’t then well and good.”
I am puzzled that he seems to be stronger than he was before he started the race. “I think it is because the finish line is approaching. I am trying to get in as many miles as I can before the finish.” I mention that yesterday he ran a very impressive 67 miles. “It was a nice experience actually. I was having some difficulty getting some enthusiasm. I had 2 very nice experiences actually. One, I was really invoking enthusiasm and dynamism, and it is really funny because you really feel that those qualities are out there on the course. You know if you just really cry within.”
On another night he describes having some inspiration issues. Then he simply got the ideas, “60. Why don’t I do 60. The whole goal gave me a lot of joy. Because I had been used to 53, 54, 55, and somehow 60 gave me a lot of joy. And it also opened up the possibility of getting 600 miles in.” He is running very smooth and strong as we have this conversation, yet he is moving much faster as well than anyone else on the course. At this point he is optimistic but admits, “my world wouldn’t collapse if I didn’t do it.”
“I had kind of given up. Basically I have been running all night. So you know I am very tired. So quite a few things today basically inspired me to go for it again.” When asked about next year, “my main focus is this one and this little challenge that I have here.”
In the great circus of excitement that envelops the finish line at the end of all of these races, most people probably did not know what had just happened when Nirbhasa crossed the line with a miniscule sliver of time still left on the clock. It couldn’t have been much more than 4 meager minutes. When you listen to the audio it is all cheers, and ringing bells, and shouts of encouragement. So much is happening all around you that it is hard to focus on it. Every few seconds one after another runner keep coming in. His distance of 622 miles is called out but very few can possibly take note of the fact just what a super human effort went into giving him that warm wide wonderful 1000km.
As the pundits chew through the stats from the race over the next few days Nirbhasa’s last day effort will cause jaws to drop and people to scratch their heads. They may think a wrong total was entered or a mistake happened somewhere along the long lines of score cards and data sheets. But no matter how they look, or examine, or ponder they will come eventually to the conclusion that a little miracle took place on the last day of the race.
On full moon night in a New York City park, an Irish man looked in his heart and saw that there was more there than he realized he had left. And much to his surprise, it just so happens that his legs were willing to give him more than they had over the previous 9 days. Every runner who was on their feet and moving into the last hours of the last day are champions and are deserving of being identified as ones who transcended themselves. And yet when you look just a little closer at what this young man from Ireland did here today it is hard not to be amazed. And maybe wonder, what have I got left in my own heart that I have yet to bring to the fore.
Most people will stay on the course until they simply do not have enough time to run another mile. For most of the runners here, one mile more or less does not mean that much.
Kaneenika in the 10 day race has consistently run the most miles per day of all the other women. Her total of 686 will put her first amongst the women and 2nd overall. “I am happy. Each race is a new experience. Each time I feel like I do make some kind of progress. Not only outwardly but I also try and implement something new in my next race. But most importantly I feel that I am growing stronger spiritually. And bringing me closer to my Guru.”
“Every time I do a fixed time race I always stay until the very end.” Phil McCarthy will be the overall winner in the 6 day race and on his last day here he will run a respectable 71 miles. His voice has a hint of roughness to it as if a combination of fatigue, pollen, and pain are proving a point that they cannot be ignored any longer. “I am very happy with how everything went. It has been a great experience. My body seems to be holding together, more or less, and I think my feet are hamburger. I don’t have any major physical problems. You never know what can go wrong in a thing like this. It was a great experience all around.”
He describes how he was enjoying himself the day before running at a comfortable pace and thought, “let me keep it going as long as I can. I didn’t know what I was thinking about how long I could sustain it. I ended up doing it for a good 7 hours.” He says he was able to keep running like this because of his crew at the time Otto Lam. “He was working like a dog, getting things ready for me.”
“The whole point is to see what you are capable of, and see what is possible.” He is happy with his total of 462 miles. “I had goals coming in, but some of it was kind of naive, some pulling it out of mid air. In the end I was prepared to push for some super high mileage and crash, and take risks.” He says that he in the beginning took a risk but conditions made him settle down and he is ultimately glad that he did not fall apart. “I still ended up with a total that I am very very proud of.”
While setting his American 48 hour record he rarely slept but in the 6 day he had to make some major adjustments to his running. He says how when Otto was here on Thursday night he told him, “Just focus, don’t worry about me.”
“Now focus is not the right word. It is something different from focus. Because you are here, and this is what you are doing. You have to be HERE doing that. In the moment.”
“I had a bit of a nasty fall on Wednesday, I thought I cracked a rib. I have been dealing with a lot of pain and shock from it. So I think through the rest of the race I have been a little bit shattered.” The past few the weather has pretty rough on the course but she describes the past 2 days for her as being dream time. “It was quiet and calm and sunny. I feel everyone got a lot from it, especially me.”
For a lot of people Phil McCarthy’s performance has helped push all the runners. “I was a bit worried about him in the beginning. He is a 24 hour 48 hour runner and in the beginning he was really pushing. He was pulling me because I didn’t have a girl pulling me this time. He is a great runner and has a great future. He is a very sweet person, and he took it in his stride. A great effort on his part.”
“These races really humble you, humble and crumble. I think Martin is getting the experience now. He has a wonderful style. He has learned a lot from this race. These races are created for absolute self transcendence. You learn so much.”
“I guess in 1991 when I first came out here I didn’t know what it was all about. Then I started to run and train more. Learn what this ultra business really was. During the year when I am doing my training I do think about these races. You have to put in the miles you have to have the feel of what is going to happen when you are out here. And Guru had this tremendous vision. People look at this race and see so many people from all over.”
“They are doing great and are so enthusiastic. So for me I train for them. 16 in a row is no joke. Something pulls me, I guess it is my soul, and my love of my Guru who taught me how to do it. Gave me the inspiration and he was the one who created this race. It is definitely a blessing to be here.”
Martin finishing with 720 miles
The champions all.
“The last lap, what a concept.” Ken Ward has had a great race and am very glad to meet up with him as he is finishing up his 6 days. “The last lap ever, never. I am extremely happy. What a great race what a great organization. The park was much more beautiful than I expected it to be.” Coming from the Pacific Northwest he says, “it is totally different.”
Describing the difference of running on wood chip trails at home versus the concrete here. “It is such a grind especially on the connective tissue. I thought it would be more of a pounding on my joints. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I thought I would get badly damaged, and I haven’t. I have been lucky to not have anything go badly wrong. “
Right behind Ken is another first time runner, Ramisvan from Bristol England. I have recorded a snippet of conversation where Ken is thanking Arpan for all his help with massage. “He is the one that made it happen.”
Arpan: “I just kept them on their feet that’s all.”
Ken: “It is kind of important to stay on your feet.”
Ramisvan: “I just have one more mile to do 380. I think it is just the right number to finish on. I am really really pleased. So I have gone beyond my goal of 360. I have had issues with my Achilles tendon, but I persevered through so I think 380 is the right distance to do.”
“Last day, beautiful day, one more mile to go.” Niribili is doing her last lap with husband Rajpal and they are glowing as they do their lap. I am told that Niribili has done 27 more miles than she did the previous year.” Niribili finishes with 448 miles over 10 days.
I came to work so I did the job, but it was hard this year because I had a bad ankle. But when I decide to come I came to work. So I did the best job that I could do.” Michel Guoin has come to the race with his family for many years. Last year he set a personal best and because of his injury he came up a little short. When you see him on the course he is always working hard and giving his best effort. He will end up the race with 527 miles. He has always been and continues to be a great champion.
“It could be better next year. I hope so.”
“To participate in this race and stay with it all the way through, everybody deserves trophies, medals, or something.” Sandhani is one of the race directors of the Sri Chinmoy marathon team and while the runners are putting in their final laps he is getting 4 tables of trophies ready. One for each runner. “It is the way we honor them.”
“I think the award ceremony is something special and significant. Every participant is acknowledged. For me it was very intense, because it was the largest field that we ever had. But I appreciate all the help we had. A lot of people came out and somehow they showed up when they were needed. So they arrive, give us a hand, and help us get through this thing. It is a big special event and I think it is the best of its kind in the world, the 6 and 10 day race.”
Allan Young is here for the second year in a row. He seems very much integral to the fabric and feeling of this great race. Compared to last year, “I somehow feel closer to the whole event. I was in the mix right from the very beginning.” He says that crewing for Martin he feels drew him even closer to the race. “It is a very hard challenging course and to get 720 miles, is not bad.”
He is very experienced at what he does and has seen multi day races all over the world. Of the Self Transcendence race, “it is very different. Whether it is because there are so many Sri Chinmoy disciples or because it caters to the whole range. Everybody is special. There is no difference between how they treat the elite or the back marker. They all get that…..Got You ….Such and Such. No chip system does that. Nobody else does that.”
“I will be back don’t worry.”
A dog named April
Elena Kareva finishing 3rd with 602 miles.
A German interview
Ilvaka and Eva clearing up and moving on.
Jayasalini finishing 2nd with 383 miles.
John Geesler has a superb last day and completes 74 miles his last day. He is 3rd and can’t quite catch Alex Swenson.
Kumar with Allan after completing his first 6 day race.
Mathias is the last to cross the line with barely seconds to spare.
Patanga from Brazil after finishing his first 10 day race and his shoes.
A very happy Pati Ibinova from Irkustk finishes 6th with 545 miles.
Prabala from France finishes his first 10 day race with 472 miles.
Priyavadin from Austria has 328 miles for 6 days.
One of the great Italians, Sandro.
Shamita and crew still smiling through it all.
The little village disappears so quickly.
Meanwhile if there is anyone who deserves a massage it is Nirbhasa Magee.
While getting a massage Nirbhasa is on the phone with his brother in Dublin. When asked what he thought about his brother’s performance in the race. “It is really incredible. It is amazing to watch his journey and to see him the last 3 days really go from strength to strength.”
Ambarish: Asked about reaching 100 km. “That many has been pretty impressive. It is very inspiring.”
Greatness competes with
Goodness competes with
Soulfulness competes with
Self transcendence does not compete
With anything or anyone.
It just tries to complete
God’s transcendental Dream
In His universal Existence Life.
-by Sri Chinmoy