July 5: No Place Like Here

“There is no place else like here.” Ananda-Lahari has spent each of the past 10 summers of his life coming here.  Here to this little half mile block in Queens.  One which looks very much like thousands of others tucked unevenly in and around New York’s often untidy urban sprawl.

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A place in which the cars roar past on one side.  Endless waves of kids zoom around in and out of the little park.  Splashing in the fountains, inventing games and making noise, being silly, but mostly having fun just like kids are supposed to be.

And a regular wave of older athletes.  Playing handball, basketball, within the noisy sometimes chaotic confines of the playground.  Or else their games spilling out onto the the great swath of artificial turf, where baseball, soccer, and something resembling cricket seems to be going on at all hours.

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In a place not like any other, at first glance, it doesn’t look special at all.  In fact it looks a whole lot like a big undulating block that you might find in many many other places, in many other cities, and maybe in many other countries.  Yet this reasonable logic immediately vanishes.  It disperses at practically the instant you come here and see it for yourself.

Certainly when you spend any time here, or you move about the course, you feel something happening to you.  There is an experience you get that is similar to that of waking up from a life time of deep slumber. Or perhaps you can interpret it as a sensation that the long shuttered windows and doors within you somehow get nudged open, if even just a crack.

And if your experience is not described to you in such a dramatic way, than it is safe to say you will feel energized and inspired here.  No matter what your mind might tell you.

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When you get even a hint of that feeling or experience than it becomes clearer just why Ananda-Lahari has done so many many thousands of miles over 10 summers right here..

There are countless different ways that a person can connect with or experience the Self Transcendence race 3100 mile race.  Each person who genuinely is inspired by what they see happening at the 3100 can make a deep an inner connection to it, even if their feet cannot bring them.

And in so doing begin to feel and maybe understand even for a moment just why, there is, No place like here.

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For him he says being here, “is like entering into another world.  It surprises me every year.  It is really intense from morning until night.”  Running he says on the course, “brings forward what I am here for.”

It all comes down to as Ananda-Lahari describes it, his spiritual life.  Something he takes seriously all year long but when he is here each summer

“It is like Come OnYou Have To Do Something.”

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Photo by Jowan

Part of a Longer Answer:

There is no ‘inwardly’ and ‘outwardly’. If we feel that there is any difference between the inner life and outer life, then we shall always be failures. There should be no difference between the inner life and outer life — not even an iota.

If we have a good thought, that very good thought we have to manifest in the outer life. Inside and outside we have to take as the obverse and reverse of the same coin.

A coin has two sides, but no matter which side you are looking at, the coin has the same value. Each side is equally important. Whatever you have inside, whether it is a good thought or a bad thought, automatically gets expressed.

Sri Chinmoy, Run And Smile, Smile And Run, Agni Press, 2000

Sarvagata had his 12th 70 plus mile day.  William seems to have got over his calf problem and had a great 115 lap day.

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Tarit has arrived and once Tim heads back to Manchester he will be Williams handler for the next week.  He has brought along a wide assortment of hats as well.

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It is going to be a good sunny day and not too hot with just a hint of extra humidity.

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The boys at it.

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Tim is going to be missed.  Has seen some old friends and also made many new ones.

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There are a few more  Run And Become gifts.

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Yuri goes for the yogurt as he does every day.

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Rupantar puts up the name of the daily sponsor.

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Start of Day 21

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Stutisheel starts out strongly this morning.

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Feet that never really stop moving caught for just a moment in time.

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Another Ray Day

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A visit from Michael Korel

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A phone call.

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He did 66 laps yesterday and he now has 807 miles.

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At the end of the day he will have spent 3 full weeks here.

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When I tell Ananda-Lahari that he has been here nearly 3 weeks he acts a little surprised.  “I didn’t know.”

Last night when fireworks were going off all around the city he also didn’t notice very much.  “It was not bothering me at all, also it was not exciting me.”

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When asked how much time he spends with the other runners he says not much.  At least not right now when he has been walking now for many days.  “Also I like going alone.  They all have different speeds.”  He describes that he doesn’t might having little chats now and then but he enjoys the solitude.

“I would like to be more focused.”  He says he wants to not be distracted by trivialities.  It is not a whim, he wants to try and experience the here and now as much as he can.

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He says that he feels that most of the rest of the year he is not as concentrated on his spiritual development.  “I am not as diligent.”

Because right now he is not able to run, “it forces me to pray, to chant, to sing.”  Overall to simply be more serious about his spirituality.  “I like it.  It brings forward my inner cry.”

He has been here for so long and gone so far there are not a lot of individual moments that he remembers.  The exception being those when he recalls Sri Chinmoy came and visited he and the other runners so many times at the course each summer.  He can still picture him driving his little red car up over the hill towards the course and how that felt.

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Asked if he still feels his presence here.  “I feel him here even more than before.”

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William just looks a whole lot better today and his movements show it.

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His 115 laps yesterday was a big push for him.  He has 1124 miles.

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Sopan’s job has not got any easier.

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“The Last days I have been trying to be positive about facing a major problem with my back for the third year now as it is still early in the race. In the 3100 all problems, and major ones in particular have a deeper meaning because to go through them in the race we have to more or less overcome ourselves.”

“In 2008 and 2012 I couldn’t go through with it to the end of the race…. so I am thinking that now I am given the chance again to face the challenge of overcoming myself physically and inwardly and now I have more tools available that help it… like exercises that Baladev showed me helping a lot”

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“Baladev had similar issue but much more severe a few years back preventing him from running the 3100 the same year. Also I visited a very good doctor last week whose adjustment helped tremendously and I hope to visit him again soon as he is very close by the 3100 course and it is worth spending 1 hour for a visit”

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 I hope there is a sign soon.  Because this sure doesn’t look the way I usually take to  Schenectady.

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Teekshanam does a few laps with Vasu this morning.

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He had 115 laps yesterday.  He now has 1198 miles.

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Nidhuvi had 110 laps yesterday.

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She has 1195 miles so far.

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She is doing great and is 20 miles ahead of last year.

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A cup of water spilled.  A gust has come and gone and so too passes the runner who now does not have a drink.

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Utsahi doing some laps and here with several runners.

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Baladev did a really great 112 laps yesterday.

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He has 1203 miles so far.

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I don’t quite know how to say it but ……..Help!!

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Tim gets a last minute photo taken to show his club back in Manchester.

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Another day another 110 laps

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1219 miles. so so so far.

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Perhaps not surprising any of this when you have dreamed so long and prepared so well.

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Vasu had a phenomenal day yesterday with 125 laps.

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His mileage only second to that of Sarvagata.  He has 1262 miles.

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Sarah had 107 laps.

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She has 1252 miles.

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Her face poised her pace good.

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Stutisheel also had a big day of 122 laps.

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He has 1277 miles

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Some familiar faces on the course who are happy to do just 2 miles on the other side of the street, and not 3100 on this one.

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He is so impressive when you see him repeat such great performances day after day.

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Another 122 lap day.

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He has 1312 miles or 36 more than last year.

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Some are still celebrating the 4th of July.

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Yuri also did 122 laps yesterday.

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He has 1336 miles.

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The sun bringing some happy faces out of the shadows of the trees.

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Some other kind of faces.

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The morning ending soon on a good note.

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Yes 132 laps.  Sarvagata ended the day with 1400 miles.

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More than 80 miles than last year.

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Some visitors to the course tonight.

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Photo by Sarvadhara

“He has done a very good massage both inwardly and outwardly,” says Vasu as he climbs off the table.  I ask him how he compares to the healing stick that he has been spinning for the better part of the last week.  “He is much better.”

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Vajra seems to be doing everything at the race some days, from massaging tight muscles, to setting up the camp in the morning, to picking up trash around the course.  “Everything that comes along I gladly accept, and whole heartedly perform, with all my heart.”

“I try and make that a 24 x 7, 365 days a year attitude.”

I ask him how is it possible for  him to be so cheerful and so accepting.  “The trick is to stay in your heart.  That’s it.  I can’t say it any better than everything transpires within the heart.”

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I ask him to describe the difference between the 6 and 10 day race and this one.  He feels that the runners at the 3100 have.  He feels that the 3100 runners have to get so much out of themselves that they are more adept at being able to bring forward all parts of themselves to get the job done.  Those in the shorter race are simply less experienced.

“I start at 4:30 in the morning and set up for the runners.  These days I am pretty fortunate in that I don’t have to work two shifts.  I used to pretty much have to work around the clock.”

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“I have helpers now.  I like what is happening with my life.”

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Ananda-Lahari recites the Prayer of the Day:

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Enthusiasm-Awakeners

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Song of The Day

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Our journey’s start
Is from right here,
And our journey’s goal
Is beyond within.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 56, Agni Press, 2008

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3 Comments to “July 5: No Place Like Here”

  1. […] used to pretty much have to work around the clock.” Listen to the interview on yesterday’s post on […]

  2. Francesco says:

    Hi Utpal
    every day simply great,
    Thank you.

    Walk smilingly
    Along life’s
    Long road.

    Sri Chinmoy,30724 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 31, Agni Press, 2003

  3. Utpal,
    Great coverage this year as usual but with some very good innovative changes. Lots of incredible photos and captions. And the interviews as well are very helpful and inspiring. We don’t get much of a chance to check it all out but our men’s team is checking out the recent days now. We are in Canada, in B.C. about to get to Alberta. Watching your coverage of the 3100 brings me back to New York and home for me. The other guys here now include Salil, Dennis, Yatkara, Sandro and Mahasatya. We are all so happy to see the race progress and website coverage and all the work you all do to keep it going. All the best to all the runners, wishing them strong legs and a lot of joy.
    Tell Mario I send my greetings and gratitude to him as well as Vajra and all the other helpers, including the ‘BIg Man’, and the other Race Directors as well. You know who I mean. Lots of work to do here now as usual. Our days our full as we move ever forward towards NY again on Aug. 15. Sorry to miss the 3100 this year but you help to make it seem closer.
    Arpan and the North American Peace Runners

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