“It is a dream of all my life and all my incarnations.” 49 year old Yuri Trostenyuk may be the most experienced and well prepared first time runner that the 3100 mile Self Transcendence race has ever seen. A fixture of the 6 and 10 day races each Spring in Flushing Meadow park he has run there 9 times, each time performing well and he even won the 10 day race 4 times.
His home is in Vinnitsa in the Ukraine, a place that curiously seems to produce an extraordinary number of top quality multi day runners. Yet it is also a place far far from New York city, in many ways more than just the 5,000 miles distance. You can easily imagine it to be a place in which such dreams as spending your summer in NY and running the race of your life would remain just that, a luminous yet impossible wish. A dream that was simply too expensive and complicated to bring forth into reality.
One can never be too old to pursue your dreams and one can also imagine that maybe it might have been better for Yuri to have come a few years earlier, than to arrive at the starting line as he has at age 49. Yet the world of the Self Transcendence race is not bound or defined by such limitations.
A runner needs of course to have adequate training and experience to come here but the most important thing is the inner preparation and spiritual maturity. Qualities that Yuri has shown in abundance from the moment he stepped forward on Sunday morning at 6.
To see Yuri run is to see an incredible combination of a young boy who smiles often as he strides giddily along. His light stride makes him to appear almost as though he is rocking lightly from side to side.
Yet at other moments there is a strength, power, and determination written in firm hard lines across his face. Hinting perhaps of the many many miles he has run throughout the dark cold winter months and also in the blazing heat of the Ukrainian Summers.
Just across the street from where Yuri and the other 3100 mile runners are taking upon themselves this monumental challenge lies the Jamaica High school track. On the night of August 27th, 1978, a grand new era of distance running for the students of Sri Chinmoy began. It was the Spiritual Master’s 47th birthday and he decided to offer a challenge to them like most had never seen before.
58 runners took part, in what seemed at the time, an unbelievable task. One that meant running 47 miles starting at midnight. Something that at the time seemed unbelievable, this coming from someone who did it, not just that night but also for many more August 27ths to come.
What Sri Chinmoy clearly saw in the sport of distance running was something bold, dynamic, and at the same time transcendent. A challenge that could powerfully bring forth both the inner and outer together. Create an experience which was like an almost endless divine journey directly towards the runners own self transcendence.
At that time he said, “This is my best birthday gift. Watching each of you transcend your own outer limitations has given me tremendous joy. When you transcend any aspect of yourself, your spiritual qualities grow and expand. Now you see what is true for all human beings. We are all truly unlimited if we only dare to try and have faith.”
Yet the following year something else happened at the 47 mile race that most of us could not imagine. The 48 year old Sri Chinmoy ran the race himself in a time of 12:41:48. Not just content to inspire his students with words he came back again the following year, also at age 49 and inspired us all with his actions. This time he ran the race again more than an hour and a half faster than he had done the previous year. Running the 47 miles in a time of 11:27:24.
Sarah arriving with a coffee cup and a smile
Medur fills the water jug for the first of many times throughout a pleasant warm June day.
Yuri arrives on his bike and Rupantar demonstrate Tai Chi.
Yuri then sorts out his things for the long day ahead.
The clock never lies.
Ananda Lahari and the other Slovaks make final preparations.
Another perfect day on the course. The Silhouette belongs to Baladev who has 258 miles after 4 days.
While morning traffic churns by on the Grand Central a quieter scene takes place not far off.
A place in which Sarvagata seems to be getting stronger by the day.
“I prayed and meditated for many years for this dream. It needed to be like a flower which needed love, care, and water. This dream needs my attention in order for it to blossom.” Vera has kindly offered to help me this morning with translation as Yuri speaks very little English.
Talking about his many runs in Flushing Meadow I ask him if they prepared him to run this race. “It helped me not just physically running those races but also it shaped and strengthed me from within.”
Here he tells me that he prays and recites mantras most of the day, always trying to remain deep in his heart. His smile grows like a flower with every mile.
When asked if he is frightened at all by what lies ahead of him. “My best friends are joy and oneness, but not fear. Fear is not a good friend for me.”
There are no barriers for those who run here. All seem to be keeping up the pace.
After 4 days Vasu continues to share the lead. He is from Vinnitsa but now lives in St Petersburg Russia.
Atmavir shares the lead with Vasu, each has 289 miles.
Sarah is doing better than okay and seems to be getting more comfortable with each day.
Surasa is running solidly. Her 4 day total has her in 4th place.
Nihdruvi also running well.
The scoreboard shows it to be so.
“These bodies are the same as other people.” Yesterday Arthur Jaffe and Carine came to the race for many hours to perform healing adjustments to the runners. “But they have taken on an extreme challenge. The interesting thing in my experience is that people can take on super human things, either when they really set their mind to it, or they are just called upon by circumstance to make it happen and they do.”
“Then they get through things that seem super human. This borders to me on incredible. But since I have seen so many incredible things in my life time, there is much more than what we see and hear. That belief can create other realities.”
He calls his work spiral techniques. It is a combination of several disciplines. “I started body work when I was 7, working on my Dad.” The runners seem to be enjoying and very grateful for his and Carine’s service today.
“I try to make them feel much better and more released as they go for so many days. Last year we came 2 or 3 times. So I guess I am enjoying being here.” Carine is also working on patients not too far away.
Poem of the day
Recited by Vasu
Sopan running with a friend.
This morning Daulot and Stota are briefly visiting NY. For speaking to me about his experiences here he wanted to put forward the news about a 7 hour race he is hosting in Seattle on September 22 2013. “In that race sometimes I am behind the clip board, (as he is now) and sometimes I am in the sweaty running shoes doing laps.”
“It is just great. I look forward to it. There is nothing else like it in this whole wide country. There is a sense here of real grit and determination but as well joy mixed together. And it goes on and on and on for days and months.”
“It is all due to the grace of the moment, of the cement, of the atmosphere, and Sri Chinmoy’s blessings. Who is smiling down day and night on this whole project. I feel like that there is an eye of the universe that just likes to watch what is going on here, and takes a keen interest in it. It is really special. How can you explain something like this until you come and spend a few hours, or a few days sitting. And it is joy.”
Some spontaneous singing.
Just one flower amongst many
TRUST YOUR DREAMS
Trust your dreams. They are sweet and beautiful.
Trust your visions. They are soulful and powerful.
Trust your aspiration. It is your earth-friend And Heaven-brother.
Trust your realisation. It is your Eternity’s real Self.
Sri Chinmoy, Europe-Blossoms, Agni Press, 1974