July 16: Running and Smiling

“They are very surprised that we are running and smiling.” Vasu is telling me this morning about a newspaper, from his home near StPetersburg that is regularly printing pictures and stories about the race here in NY.  He tells me that the readers are also encouraged to check out a Russian language version of this blog.  Which they are told, “if you read it you will be inspired.”

vasu

He says that the paper is calling the 3100 mile race a sporting event but they admit to their readers that they can’t even begin to understand how the runners are able to do it.  For everyone else it is also nearly impossible to comprehend what is happening here by simply looking at the daily result sheets.  And no matter how you view or calculate all the statistics and numbers  they really can’t tell you much about what is going on here.

When you look at Vasu’s picture here you cannot help but take note that he is clearly a man at peace with himself and yes he has a smile too.  But then mentally try and add to this radiant face the additional knowledge that in about 6 hours time he will pass the 2,000 mile mark.  With this simple fact our ability to understand who he really is and what he is accomplishing here on this block in Queens evaporates into thin air.

vasu-silouhette

As someone who has run marathons and longer events I know something about struggling and suffering to reach a finish line.  I have felt the satisfaction of a number of hours of hard effort and then the immediate relief of crossing a finish line and than it is all over.  Here there is also a finish line but it is one so remote and so distant it is almost inconceivable.  For Vasu, who has crossed it once before and will soon be just 1000 miles away, for him it is certainly no longer an invisible or imaginary thing that calls out to him now and one he has constantly been aware of for the past 30 days.

Yet he will arrive there successfully he knows, not by being lost in his body’s struggles nor deterred by the mental suffering of his mind.  He is experienced and aware enough to realize that he will only transcend himself here only by surrendering to the divine within himself.  I asked him one time what his strategy was here at the race.  “I have no plan.  My soul has a plan.”

Puerto-Rico

Photo by Kedar

Run, run, in the inner world run, run!
God’s Lightning-Smiles have already begun.

Sri Chinmoy, My God-Hunger-Cry Part 1, Agni Press, 2009

Sarah works on her feet first thing.

pre-sarah

Sarvagata also readies for another long hot day ahead

pre-sarvagata

Nothing can be overlooked

pre-surasa2

Feet are always just about the most important part of you here.

pre-feet

Then you can take care of the other bits.

pre-pranjal

Start

start

Sarvagata takes off quickly this morning.

sarvagata5

He had an excellent day yesterday compared to everyone else.

sarvagata3

He ran by far the most laps yesterday, 125.  He is currently in 4th place but is just 17 miles behind Vasu.

sarvagata

The days ahead are all going to be hot and humid ones.

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By the baseball field a cooling post is spraying out a mist.

fountain2

It is something new and when the wind blows it crosses through the fence and onto the sidewalk.

fountain

For those who want a little spray they just have to step near

baladev-and-spray

Of course there is always the old fashioned solid form of water in small plastic bags that can do a little longer job of cooling.

pedro-ice

Refreshment comes in all kinds of containers.

wide-vasu

Yuri did 10 laps yesterday.

yuri6

He will make 2000 miles this morning.

yuri

A local Auyervidic Doctor has prescribed some simple remedies to help the runners with the heat.  One it is to carry an onion.

wide-onion

The Swami runs again this morning on the course.

swamiji

He blends in so well with everyone and then he vanishes

silouhette-swami

Somethings do not come and go.

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Ashprihanal sometimes seems that he has always been here but it has only been 12 years.

ashprihanal3

He is still in first place by nearly 100 miles and he does feel the finish line draw closer.  He did 112 laps yesterday and today he is inspired to do a little skit with Sopan for the Enthusiasm Awakeners.

play

ashprihanal-and-sopan-play

Breakfast is waiting on everyone’s table.

atmavir-table

Atmavir is in 2nd and is 140 miles ahead of last year

atmaivr2

He completed 2000 miles just before leaving last night.

atmavir

Ananda-Lahari continues to walk and walk

ananda-lahari3

Baladev finds miracles everywhere, and yes joy as well

baladev-and-tree

Feet, legs, and shadows.

feet-legs-ad-shadow

Others share the course with all its inspiration and beauty.

flower

Daulot celebrates his birthday here today and Misha plays a song.

misha-and-daulot

misha

He gets congratulations from everyone here.

daulot-birthday

There is no end of music here.

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Sarah having a tranquil time.  She did what she needed yesterday 90 laps.

sarah

She gets a brief cool spray.

sarah-and-spray

Sarvagata is trying out some Acupuncture patches.

sarvagata-and-silvy

You always need to stretch though.

sarvagata-stress

Nidhruvi comes through the camp.

wide-nidhruvi

Just doing so well

nidhruvi3

Really into the swing of things.

nidhruvi

Just for a moment she enjoys the board and seeing 1800 miles

nidhruvi-1800

Surasa also had 111 laps yesterday.

surasa2

She is not conquered by the heat and humidity.

silouhette-surasa

The things that matter.

flower2

Things that matter most perhaps.  Vajra makes a shopping list.

vajra-and-list

Is anything missing.

shopping-list

I am told that I haven’t really seen a sunset here.

sunset

“Yesterday we had a tough day because of the weather.  In the morning it was very hot and also very humid.  But this is just part of the race.  You cannot do anything with this, it belongs to the race.  It would be nice to not have it like this, to run it in the Spring or in the Autumn but there again there could be problems.  It could get cold.  But this race is so long the weather is changing all the time.” Pranjal

wide-flower-camp

Who still manages to run 114 laps every day.

pranjal2

The camp on a Tuesday morning with no vans beside the curb.

wide-camp

“Yesterday was a little bit hot.  Dr.Kumar told us to take onions and it was very nice.  You just take it in your hand or put in in your pocket and run.”  He also suggested a different method of treating blisters.  One not too different from using the leaves they currently are applying to blisters.  He suggested putting some grass along with rosewater into the bottom of the socks of those having foot problems.  “I was so happy.” (laughs) “My skin became better, just usual grass.  After 5 laps of using grass my skin became better, much much better.” As we are running now he is not using this.  He says he will use it only when it gets really hot a little later.

vasu4

Ashprihanal made a joke about the headband that Vasu wears from time to time.  “We joked about this headband.  It makes my mind silent.” (laughs) “It is special because it is hand made.  It is good for both warm and cold weather.”

Yesterday Vasu completed 118 laps here.  He is now 140 miles ahead of his pace from last year.  He says the main quality he learned and worked upon last year was patience.  “And this time I hope Happiness.”

vasu-and-nicolay

He is also very interested in hearing about the personal experiences that others may have had with Sri Chinmoy.  He says he identifies closely with them and feels tremendously inspired when he hears these stories.  In one story he heard from a boy who quite frequently drove one of the buses that the group once upon a time used to have.

The boy told him that he sometimes had the opportunity of driving the bus when Sri Chinmoy used to sit in a seat directly behind the driver.  Vasu asked him how he felt when he did this service for Sri Chinmoy.  He told him that it made him happy.

vasu

He then asked this person if it was okay to feel oneness with him and the experience of driving the bus with Sri Chinmoy in it.  It was a very powerful experience for Vasu to identify in this way.  “For the next few days I was not running.  I was just a bus driver.  So much happiness and joy I felt inside of me.”

vasu and poem

Prayer of the day

prayer

Recited in English and Russian by Vasu

Prayer

Enthusiasm Awakeners

parvati2

parvati

Question: How can our outer smile help our running?

Sri Chinmoy: Your outer smile can help your running considerably. When you smile, you disarm your opponent. Take running, for the time being, as your opponent. While you are fighting or struggling with your enemy, which is running, if you give a smile, naturally your enemy will lose some of its strength. So play a trick on your enemy by smiling. This may sound absurd, but I assure you it is true. Just think of the running world as an enemy and weaken the strength of this enemy by giving a smile.

Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974

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3 Comments to “July 16: Running and Smiling”

  1. Francesco says:

    3100 Thank you!

  2. Hridayinee Williams says:

    Another touching and sweet journal entry from our divine 3100mile race. Thank you so much. That photo you have included of Sri Chinmoy sitting down at a race is the most endearing picture ever!! Much gratitude. I am sending all my love and heart’s good wishes out to all the brave runners, and especially my two Austrian sisters running and my Australian sister – Sarah. Well done!!!!! Hello also to one of the fantastic cooks of the runners, Nipura. 🙂 Thank you all for your service…

  3. Stutisheel says:

    Utpal, thanks for inspiration and 3100 spirit!
    BTW, could anyone adjust the plate of Joseph Austin Playground? It’s askew from the start of the Race … 🙂

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