July 1: Fulfilling Food Of Oneness

“This is my 10th year and I love it.  This is for me the best time of the year.  It is a very sacred event for me and I just love everything about the race.” Nirjharini is at the helm of one of the most exclusive food establishments in New York.  It is a job that involves incredibly long hours, relentless preparation of countless meals and snacks, and a exotic clientele whose very specific needs are not like those of any other diner on the planet.


The 12 Self Transcendence 3100 mile runners very lives and well being depend upon what Nirjharini and her equally dedicated crew do in a tiny kitchen in Queens.  It is a hive of activity for much of a very long day that creeps well into the depths of night.  Delightful ever changing aromas continually waft out into the nearby flower garden. Smells that only begin to hint at the flavor and energy that seems to imbue every morsel, that is regularly packed up and shipped over to the race, 5 blocks away.  Always arriving piping hot or soothingly cool to the runners as their needs, wishes, and wants evolve throughout the day .  These remarkable athletes who always seem to be nibbling, and sipping, and chewing on something tasty that came from this very special temple of food.


It is perhaps the most superbly catered take out establishment that you just might find anywhere.  Yet all the effort, and all the care, and all the love going into the food preparation is wholly devoted to only 12 almost always continually hungry individuals.  For the food that is prepared here is the very fuel that keeps them going, both day and night for an average of 60 miles a day.

When their body feels as though it is dying from fatigue, or a pain or blister is screaming out in a foot or muscle, some tasty tidbit, some warm bowl of something, can be the comfort, the remedy, the very strength that makes their difficult journeys just a little easier.  That all this food be fresh and tasty is crucial for each of the runners long hard efforts to make their daily laps.  That it is prepared with such dedication and love may just be why they reach their self transcendence goals.


A soulful smile
Is the nourishing food
Of love.
A fruitful cry
Is the fulfilling food
Of oneness.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 113, Agni Press, 1987

Some runners have very special drinks or supplements that they prepare and take themselves.  All Baladev eats is non dairy, non sugar, and non gluten.


Sarvagata is starting to look a little better each day


Sopan working on his feet


Yuri likes what he sees




Petra singing on the course early


The day will not be hot but very humid.  Rain comes and goes.


Yuri will be the next to make 1000 miles later this afternoon


On the far side of the track he passes a man who walks here every day, similar and yet so very different.


Ananda Lahari taking the big turn in the bottom corner.


Misha showing him a picture from Prabhakar’s book of photos


Vasu hungry for stories


Vasu taking one of the cooks famous smoothies


Rupantar has a happy moment




Sopan trying to get his body to work


Nidhruvi having a happy stretch


Remaining calm and focused


The Vienna girls having a get together


Surasa continues to do well


There is an old tree that is not doing so well but somehow endures


Pranjal has been bothered by the humidity but continues to do well


Early morning counters


Jagadhata on the board


A new garden arrived sometime yesterday


Ashprihanal had 128 laps yesterday


Atmavir also had 128 laps


Baladev taking a needed stretch


Sarvagata had a good 120 lap day yesterday


“You know you have had this injury for 3 months so why are you here.”  Before coming to the race Sarah had visited a very good Auyervedic Doctor.  He knew about the race and said, “you know this is longer than a marathon, and I said yes.”

“I just want to have faith that something will happen.  That I will be able to cover at least some distance.  Then he went silent.  Then he said, I think your injury will disappear in the race.  Then he gave me some tablets and that was it.” (laughs)


I want to know how she is feeling about her race so far.  I mention that she had what appeared to be 2 very hard days.  She adds, “And yesterday wasn’t so great.” (laughs)

“I think when you are attempting something big like this, things don’t always go as you planned.  Then you have these really down times.  You just really want to reach the goal.  Which I think to everyone here is to reach the 3100.  The whole distance. But maybe God has a different plan.  Maybe it is not this year that you reach it.  Maybe some time in the future.”

“Nature’s time is so much slower in some ways.  We want everything done instantly, and we want to run huge miles every day.  It just doesn’t work like that sometimes.  It is also accepting yourself as you are.  Not having to be great or a super star or world champion.  Because maybe that is not the plan for our life.  So I was just trying to be happy with what was happening.”


Previous to this race the longest Sarah has run is 10 days and completed 1120 km.  It works out to be 700 miles.   As of this morning she has been running now for 5 days longer and has completed 879 miles.

“I have to be grateful for those little things that you kind of forget.  Know that you are still doing more than you have before.”

“Lots of little beautiful things are happening throughout the day.  Last night, really late, for some reason there was a little 3 year old girl just on the path in front of me.  And I was so tired.  She ran up to me.  This was in the shadows, the darkness, she ran up with her arms open, so we gave each other a little hug.  Right there on the pavement.”


“I didn’t know where she had come from and I looked around and her parents were on the other side of the road just smiling.  They thought it was really cute.  So little things like this happen when you least expect it.”

“But I have to admit it is not easy running around a concrete loop all day.  This is still not easy for me.  I hope it gets a little bit easier.”


Still finding beauty


“We try and supply a lot of food constantly.” There is a belief that the runners burn up around 10,000 calories a day.  For sure Nirjharini and her crew will make sure no runner ever goes hungry.  She describes how on cooler days they have more of an appetite.  “Food disappears much faster. On hot days it is much more difficult for them.”

“I get so much inspiration from what they are doing.” When ever she feels things are getting difficult for her she just thinks about the runners.  “They still keep going.  Just look at them.  They stay cheerful.  It helps me for my own aspiration and inspiration to go on.”


The chart with all the runners special needs.  Before the race she asks each runner what they can and cannot eat.


Sarah and Yuri are the 2 new runners for her.  Sarah told her, “As long as I have enough chocolate I am happy.”

“This is my first full summer.”  Irina who appears to be at the race most of the time is now behind a large pile of dirty pots and pans and is expertly cleaning them.


“Last year I was here for 2 weeks.”  As for why she has come for the whole time.  “I thought it was time for to think of somebody other than myself.  So I am happy to be here the whole time.  If they need something or there is something that needs to be cleaned.”

“I got an inspiration to clean the whole track.  It took me 2 days to accomplish. (laughs)  And when I woke up my body was completely broken.  So many blisters, but I was so happy that they appreciated everything.  It fulfills me that I can make them happy.  I am happy when they are happy.”


This is Tejini’s 2nd summer here helping.  “So see the runners every day and feeding them.  I get so much inspiration in my soul really to do that.  It definitely inspires you.”


“I didn’t plan on coming this year.  But when I heard there were 3 girls running.  I felt that I just have to be here, and I want to be part of it.  I really want to try and support them.  Bring my own aspiration to the fore.  It is such a beautiful environment.  I really love it here.”

“It is my first time and I just love it.  I want to give everything I can to the runners for they are just incredible.”  Petra is visiting for just 10 days and she was already out at the race at dawn singing.


“This is going to be a green smoothy.”  Tanuja shows me the beat greens that will soon end up in a tasty mix and then end up in a runners cup.  She helped out for 2 weeks last year.  “It was a really strong feeling that built up inside of me during April, and it stayed there.  So I thought, I have to try and get the free time and come.  And it worked.”


Nirjharini, “It is a fantastic, fantastic, crew.”  She mentions all those who are not here.




The food is rarely if ever enjoyed while sitting.  By necessity there are no real plates or silverware. Yet how important and how cherished all the girls efforts here is.



Prayer recited by Vasu


Enthusiasm Awakeners



Gratitude is the food of faith.
Faith is the food of love.
Love is the food of peace.
Peace is the food of God.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 32, Agni Press, 1982


2 Comments to “July 1: Fulfilling Food Of Oneness”

  1. Francesco says:

    your blog feeds our hunger for inspiration…

  2. Ken says:

    Thanks so much Utpal, I’m hungry just reading, but not hungry enough to run for two straight months…

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