There was a moment this morning when Ashpihanal went by me as I was crouched on the ground taking a photograph. I heard him call out, “you know some runners have gone half way.” As I glanced up I saw a mischievous grin on his face as he ran by. In a little less than a lap later I caught up with him and he announces, “I reached the half way point yesterday.”
“When I reach the half way point I always have a big celebration. It was really nice. My big celebration is that I take a half cup of water.”(jokingly)
Yesterday when it happened his friend Sopan asked him if he was now on track to finish the race in 45 days. “Well you know the last 2 times I ran here I got problems at the end of the race. So whatever the Lord gives I take it.” With 1550 long hard miles still stretching out in front of him neither he, nor anybody else for that matter, when they cross the half way mark is really prepared to celebrate. Just too much yet can happen.
Now also as each day passes it is becoming increasingly clear that some runners will simply not be able to cross that finish line at all, in the time remaining to them. For those runners, they all have to come to terms with this stark reality and instead identify with some other goal. One that will continue to inspire and push them on and through so many hot heavy days yet to come.
For Sarah the new realization of what the race was now going to mean for her in the weeks ahead became clearer just yesterday. “I suddenly realized how extreme this race is. compared to the 10 day race it is so mentally different.”
At the point she realized that the goal of completing the full distance had slipped away her first feeling was as though she had lost her motivation. After this though she realized, “then you have to think of every day as something new. Then the joy returned really yesterday. Because I could appreciate just being here. Being with all these awesome runners. That are flying past me, and hoping one day that I might have that determination.”
“You have to set a new goal, and realize that it is a life long process. It is more than the miles on the board. It is how you are feeling every day. If you can be happy.”
If your life is real,
Your heart can be happy.
If your mind is free,
Your body can be happy.
Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 40, Agni Press, 1982
Rupantar’s car arrives with its tired cargo
The girls attend to feet and shoes right away.
Pranjal attends to his blister
Sarvagata had the best day of all yesterday
Vera sits down getting ready to count.
Even from just across the street it doesn’t look like much is happening here.
It may be how and where you look that it all becomes so much more real.
To see the face of Yuri Trotenyuk as he marches into the sun. The same sun that took away his strength for more than 2 days. The sun that made him sick, weak, and dizzy. The sun he must face and endure for another 1640 more miles.
How he and all the others must find strength from within.
Baladev like Sarah is unlikely to make 3100 miles this time. Yet today he offers one of Sri Chinmoy’s older poems to all the runners.
The following is a recording of ‘The Absolute.’ Written and published in 1972 in the book My Flute. This recording was made in 1982
Pranjal meanwhile had a very good day yesterday with 119 laps
Always the little things that mean so much
Surasa gets a call a very welcome call from home.
She is simply so consistent. Yesterday again 112 laps.
“I feel like I am the rookie.” Even with all her experience at multi day racing the 3100 mile race is a still a very new event for the 37 year old talented Sarah Barnett from Adelaide. “My first year of learning.” She received the welcome news from the race director that she should not feel unneeded pressure. From now on all she needed to do was try and complete 50 miles a day. “If you do that you can stay in the race and we will be happy.”
She tells me this with real relief. I ask if she imagined that a van was going to show up with her bags packed inside and ready to take her to the airport. She laughs at this and jokes, “I probably wouldn’t have minded too much.” She understands that capacity has to slowly grow and be nurtured. “I hope to come back again and try. But any way there is still a long way to go with this one.”
I remind her that she came into the race with a significant foot injury. “I have had a good 2 or 3 weeks running on it. Now it is starting to play up a little bit. I just have to tape it again. You know it has been pretty good to allow me run at least 80 or 85km a day. I am happy with that.”
“I have got friends who have just done a 6 day in Italy. They just finished about a day ago. I can see their mentality. It is all about the winning and who is defeating who and I think, this race really feels different. I am really grateful for Sri Chinmoy’s self transcendence message. It is so different. It is just about yourself. And next year you will try and do better or tomorrow you will do better than today. If you can just do that then you are really happy.”
“But if you start competing than you are just getting a fighting mentality.”
“I feel in the first races all your negative qualities come forward. Frustration with yourself, hoping you could achieve more. But I can see as the race goes on it becomes more like a family. The other runners are encouraging, like you are the little child of the family. It is really awesome.”
“The last few days I have got the feeling that these runners are warriors. That you are fighting against your own weakness. That is more important than the miles on the board. Everyone is fighting together against their lethargy, unwillingness, depression, and all these things that everyone is kind of fighting, on the same team. That is an inner feeling that I got the last few days.”
She describes how this family includes not just the 12 runners but also everybody else who supports and takes part in some way with the race. “The whole thing works together.”
Hints of nature
Vasu asks me what I think of his hat. I tell him that I am not sure but like his miles very much more. He will cross the half way point today.
There is no hiding. Ananda-Lahari had a much better day with 104 laps.
He does not really run but somehow he almost takes flight.
Atmavir crosses the threshold this morning
So quickly it is over than it is on to trying to complete perhaps another 128 lap day.
Keeping shoes just right.
Keeping a good grip of the situation.
Staying fed no matter who you are.
Big or small.
Staying loose too.
Once again Sarvagata found another gear and ran 132 laps yesterday. 19 more than the previous day.
His wife Sarvakamya is there to help.
Then there are the special friendships. Silvy and Vasavi who have so much in common in their roles as helpers.
Sopan found his way back up to 113 laps yesterday after more than 10 days of struggle. “Every time I have a good day I thank God and try to stay humble next day I do my best.”
Nidhruvi keeping the great pace of 112 laps a day
“I have this feeling that I need to comeback. I feel as though I should each year and help.” Petra is heading back to her home in London today and comes out to the race one more time. Right now she is running with Nidhruvi.
“She is so young. Definitely one day she will enjoy this race. Because many more girls will come and run this race I tell you. Because now for the first time there are 3 girls. Some strong girl runners will one day feel this call. They will definitely come you will see it. Let us see next year who else will join.”
Nidhruvi describes how physically you have to be strong to participate in the race. “But also inwardly and mentally. You have to be strong to deal with all those struggles that you will definitely face. But it is a growing. I have so many experiences from all those years of racing. So this is an advantage. You have to grow into it.”
“This race is totally different from all the other races. Because it takes so long.”
Petra says, “I am very honored that I could be here. Obviously I am bit sad that I am going but it is such an honor and I am happy and grateful.”
Vajra and Vasu recite today’s prayer
Song of the day
Your heart’s oneness-peace
Is not real
If it cannot fly
Across the vastness-ocean.
Sri Chinmoy, Peace: God’s Fragrance-Heart, Part 2, Agni Press, 1992