This morning Sopan set off on the course just as he has now for the past 45 days. Yet without fail, at least for the last few weeks, watching his first few laps is without question one of the most painful sites you can imagine. He is by far the slowest, at that time of day at least, and what he does in those early laps is not what most of us would call running or even walking. Probably there is an more accurate physiological term but to me it could best be described as a hobble.
His shoes scrapping along the sidewalk you can hear him shuffling along from some distance off. There are lots of reasons for his current condition. He has blisters and he has unbearable pain and fatigue. But just about the easiest way of understanding just why he looks the way he does in the mornings is to just look up at the score board. When you see all those numbers, 2562 miles they are the reason for both his suffering and his joy.
It hasn’t always been like this. There have been days on the course when every little bit of Sopan was working smoothly rhythmically and superbly. The first 2 weeks he regularly put in 113 lap days, accumulating those all so important laps in case problems should arise, and then they did with a vengeance. The hole he found himself in kept getting a little bigger and deeper each day until eventually there was not going to be any way to just grab back those all important lap numbers. Not when time was hurtling along at its relentless pace as it does not just here but with all of life.
Yet lest we forget, the most important thing of all is that he is happy to be here. Also as the morning progresses he becomes more limber and does move along well. He would love of course to finish all those 3100 miles, but even now he is looking at those last precious 7 days ahead and is looking at another number. It just might be 3000 miles, still a great achievement, or it might be something else. Even he doesn’t really know just yet. He will stay out here as long as he can doing his best and simply see where all that effort and sacrifice takes him.
For Sopan this year’s race is far from being a failure. Instead he feels that this year is instead one in which he has made a truly significant breakthrough. Found an answer to a long standing muscular and skeletal problem that has kept him out of the race for a few years. Not too many days ago he said, “Every time I have a good day I thank God and try to stay humble next day I do my best.”
Today is special for him in a lot of ways, for it was on this day 7 years earlier in 2006 that he finished the race in 50 days and 13 hours. It was a glorious achievement for this young man from Bulgaria. In what was also a great surprise to him, Sri Chinmoy himself, the founder of the marathon team was there for his finish. Just a couple of hours earlier another runner finished as well. So on that very special occasion Sri Chinmoy not only gave them their spiritual names but also composed songs in their honor. His name Sopan, means stairway to the highest.
As we near that same spot where it all happened he says, “there is a lot of history here.”
You do not know.
Your vital history
You have forgotten.
Sri Chinmoy, Europe-Blossoms, Agni Press, 1974