July 22: Elevate To Your Highest Height

Photo by Jowan
Photo by Jowan

It seems almost like a distant time now.  Yet flipping back through the calender it was just 7 years ago to the race in 2006 that perhaps the 3100 experienced its most historical moment.

By any stretch of the imagination it was a magnificent year for the race and in particular for 50 year old Madhupran Schwerk, who made it all happen.

He is a German runner who came here and set a record that no one has even come close to since then.  It was a remarkable 41 days and 8 hours.

It was no fluke either.  This was after all the 4th time he had run the race and in 2002 he had set the previous record, which was already a mind boggling 42 days 13 hours.  But 5 years had passed since then, and for some observers it would almost seem impossible, for a now 50 year old man to really and truly transcend himself.

Madhupran However was and is a consummate runner in every way.  He learned a lot from this hard patch of ground here in Queens and it also made him just a little bit stronger each time he came and ran.


Yet If there is one additional key to his success that year, some potent antidote to all the adversity that comes with orbiting 5649 times around this little cosmos, would be the constant presence of his helper, Helmut Schieke.  A most unique individual who just may be the greatest multi day helper in the world. Thus you have a perfect pairing, that ultimately led to this incredible record.  In the video of the race Madhupran says, “We are a good team.  Everybody can see it.”

Click To Play:

 Madhupran wins 3100 Mile Race 2006

But to become a great runner is one thing and to become a great helper is another.  Helmut came to this job in a predictable way as he was a top runner once himself and back in 1990 ran a formidable 260 km in a 24 hour race.  His race experience was a terrific boon but for a helper to become great they need a lot more.  Allan Young, who is also one of the best helpers in the world said of Helmut, “I saw him and it was almost as though he was reading his mind.”

martin-and-allan copy

In this edition of the race the presence of helpers is one of the obvious keys to why some runners are doing exceptionally well. The standout performances of those who have helpers, and it is clearly making a difference, has to be with both Surasa and Nidhruvi.  Both have almost constant help on and off the course and the interaction between runner and helpers at times seems seamless.

Silvy, is just one member of a very strong team supporting Nidhruvi.  Until she came here, she had no experience either as a distance runner or being a helper.  But for her, the job of helping Nidhruvi thrusts her into that very special world of anticipating in advance what she needs to do, what she should fix before it becomes a problem, and also simply supporting her runner as selflessly as possible.

PhilThe one extra ingredient, that perhaps a helper needs most is an endless supply of encouragement.  Something that cannot be measured and yet you know it when you see it.

Yesterday in the Britiish Open, American golfer, Phil Mickleson won the tournament in the final round by coming back from 5 strokes behind the leader.  Some say it was the best round of golf he has ever played.

His caddy, Jim MacKay has carried 43 year old Micleson’s bag for 21 years now.  Phil said of his caddy, “He is the only guy on the golf course that wants me to play well.  He’s the only guy trying work his tail off for me.”

Sri Chinmoy meets with 4 time Olympic champion Emil Zatopek

When Zatopek was doomed to disappointment, his wife encouraged him, inspired him and elevated him to his highest height. Then again, when his wife needed encouragement and inspiration, he helped her not only cheerfully, willingly and unreservedly but also successfully.

Sri Chinmoy, Emil Zatopek: Earth’s Tearing Cry And Heaven’s Beaming Smile, Agni Press, 1980

A little stretch, a longer day


The table is all set for the special guests


Counters at the ready.


More getting ready


Sarvagata and Yuri arrive




The day is overcast and cooler but rain spits from time to time.  Thundershowers will roll in as well.


Yuri is now wasting no time.  With the change in weather he looks like a man on a mission.Yuri

He ran 102 laps yesterday and this morning he has said goodbye to walking altogether and runs non stop.


The course is still very dry.


Vasu runs today with an intensity I have not seen in some time.


Vasu is now in 3rd place behind Atmavir and he ran the most yesterday 119 laps.


Sopan looks much better today


“Sometimes you forget that you know how tough it is. That is how this race is.”  As to why he does it, “it felt like the right thing that is all.  That is the only reason I am here.”


He works on a blister and then continues.  He did 108 laps yesterday.



At the corner be sure to turn left.


Rupantar on the phone


Contemplating that first big step.


It must be Nidhruvi


She ran 115 laps yesterday which is the most she has run since her first day.


Silvy is not the only helper and I apologize for not including her other ones.  An error I hope to correct.


Surasa did 111 laps yesterday


Occasionally the Vienna girls get together


But she is most often on her own.


But Irena is also here every morning too.


The presence of Purple means but one thing.


It is of course Sarah who walks between the rain drops.


Then takes a well earned break


Always looking close shows you more than you can imagine


Ashprihanal looks better today.


There are times when it looks just as though he will fly again.


Some things are never so simple as they seem


Atmavir had a good day yesterday.  He is still in the lead


Raindrops fall


Baladev carries an umbrella and maybe not an onion today


Don’t forget to buy milk


Pedro on the boards


Jagadhata cutting Atmavir’s shoes


Vajra on ice


There is nothing stopping you.


Sarvagata is amused at what is happening to him here this year.  One day up and the other down.


But part of him most certainly wants to do more than the 97 laps he did yesterday.


Always hope


Having a roll.


Having a roll and coffee too.


Nature greets us on all fronts today


Talking about yesterday.  “Finally we had a day in which we can really survive.  Any way it wasn’t easy.  In the afternoon the sun was still strong and quite hard to run.”  Pranjal still did 114 laps yesterday.


Ananda-Lahari never really stops.


Never stops smiling


Never stops encouraging others


Prayer of the day


Recited by Sopan


Enthusiasm Awakeners



Your goal is the highest
No lesser goal must you accept!

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 3, Agni Press, 1998


2 thoughts on “July 22: Elevate To Your Highest Height”

  1. This was the 4th time German woodworker/musical instrument maker Madhupran Schwerk had run in the longest race in the world. In 2002 he first won the event and set the record at 42 days 13 hours 24 minutes and 3 seconds.

    This year he claimed it would be his last race. He stated that at age 50 he would never compete again. He ran magnificently, setting a new record by more than a day. His time was 41 days 8 hours 16 minutes and 29 seconds.

    – Utpal

    so inspiring this film, “prana” is a life force that let him run so magnificently. I think it must have been at times difficult for him also, but he always turned his thinking around
    on the breath “prana” however challenging this can be, he also got much encouragement by it.
    When I go through all these pictures as a whole I see that all the runners are doing so well this year, a lot of supporters around the globe are holding them in their thinking and giving the runners strength thanks to these genial posts e.d.

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