July 19: Simplicity Of Running

In British distance running there are 2 names that stand out above all the rest.  Don Ritchie and Steve Jones each set records that have lasted for more than 30 years.  In some ways there was a similarity about their approach to the sport, even though the distances they each competed at were at the other ends of the spectrum.

They both liked to run from the front, and simply run as fast as they could for as long as was possible.  For spectators it was a delight but sometimes for fellow competitors it was even better.  Let the man at the front do all the hard work and then slip across the finish line just in front.

In 1984 when Steve Jones was about to complete his first marathon in Chicago he was surprised to learn about 2 miles from the finish that he was on a world record pace.  Something he had no idea of at the time since he didn’t wear a watch.  In his inaugural marathon he broke the world record  by 13 seconds in 2:08:05.  The following year he returned once more to Chicago and set the new British mark of 2:07:13.  A time that has yet to be surpassed since it was set October 20 1985.

“I run with my head, my heart and my guts, because physically, I don’t think I’ve got a great deal of talent or ability. I started at the bottom and worked up.”…Steve Jones

I spoke with Williams helper Alan this morning and we were talking about attitude and confidence, what qualities it takes to be best in the world.  In races like the one in the video you clearly see that at the moment Steve Jones was passed he could have surrendered.  Backed off half a step and nobody would have known the difference.  But the kind of man and runner that he was, that choice simply wasn’t possible for him to make.

William told Alan that for the first month of the race he wasn’t feeling very good.  Alan laughs at not only the absurdity of feeling not your best for such a long time but also that his runner has at last found his pace and rhythm.  Who over the past few days is now excelling and reaching a whole new performance level.

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Photo by Sarvadhara

Last night William completed his 2000th mile.  Before he headed home he added an additional 5 more miles.  Alan would call it, in his understated fashion, “A very good and well judged day.”

He has still a very long way to go.  But on his 34th day on the road here in Queens he ran 124 laps which is 68 miles.  The total for this 60 year old runner from Sanday Orkney was only bested by one other runner that day, Stutisheel.  Who is 16 years younger and is running this race for his 10th time, not his first like William.

In the weeks and months to come statisticians will be click clacking their pens and calculators to make it all add up just so.  For a new river of records has seriously begun to flow from the heart, and feet, and very fiber of the best super ultra runner in Britain, and we will know soon enough in time, the world as well.

New York City Marathon director Fred Lebow said this:

“The simplicity of running is the heart and soul of the sport. The ordinary, everyday runners are the mainstream. I can never forget this because I am one of them, regardless of what else I am.”

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Simplicity
Is the most
Striking
And
Challenging
Speed
When we run along the road
Of Eternity’s
Fulfilling
Achievement-light.

Sri Chinmoy, Union And Oneness, Agni Press, 1976

It is once again and extraordinarily great day for weather at the race.

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William arrives and when he is congratulated about his performance the day before he could not be more humble.  pre-william

The taxi arrives

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Not humid and not hot and overcast off and on through the day.

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Rupantar filling the water jugs.

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Down at the other end of town

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Stutisheel ran 129 laps and William 124 laps.  It was a day when everyone else seemed to have a slightly off day.   Who knows why.

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Start Day 35

startStutisheel goes out hard again this morning.

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Sarvagata only managed to complete 114 laps yesterday.

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These kind of things simply happen.  He had painful shinsplints for much of the day.

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If Sarvagata doesn’t worry about such things perhaps his sister Sarvadhara does it for him, if even just a little.  She doesn’t let it show.

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He puts all his focus and energy on the next 721 miles.

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He seems to be running better today.

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There is no better person to have in William’s corner now than Alan Young.

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Do you ever wonder how I am able to just walk up a tree.  I don’t understand it either but it is fun.

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Yuri had 116 laps yesterday.

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There is no simple way of explaining just why so many runners just collectively ran a little bit less.

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Anastasia and I ran for a short part of the course and I wanted to ask Yuri about the book he wrote about his race here last year.

During the race I discovered something new in this world.  The 3100 mile race course, is a temple, where energy, which permeates the entire universe is circulating.  It purifies, changes, transforms, and makes you better.  In other words, it is Progress.“….Quote from Vasu’s book

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I asked him if he will write another this year.  “The race is not over yet.”

Well what if he were to write about even what has happened this far.  “Of course.  It is like a child going to school.  You go to the first class, second class, and so on.  It is the same with the race.”

Click to Play Interview:

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yuri-book

Anastasia gives Jayasalini’s helper Pati a shoulder rub.

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“My legs are getting weaker and weaker and it is harder to keep the pace.” Pranjal

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Pranjal did 116 laps yesterday.

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It is more than a mantra it is a way of life for him….do your best.

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His 2218 miles  is still 73 more than last year.

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Just across the street.

flower-parvatiZulma updating the board

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An early breakfast is great but I could sure go for a cup of coffee.

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Vasu had 113 laps yesterday.

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For Vasu who is dealing with a number of problems there is certainly a part of him that would like to be running faster and stronger.

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But if this doesn’t happen any time soon he is still happy and grateful just to be able to run as much as he can every day.

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To be going forward is more than enough for Vasu

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There is a delicacy about the day.

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For 2 days in a row Stutisheel has run 129 laps

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He has 2166 miles and is having an amazing performance.

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Not typical New York summer weather.

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“I am very impressed by the atmosphere.  Of Peace and Joy, the inner blessing here that translates to an outer experience here.”  Teri Bolinger has come to visit the race from her home in Baltimore.  She is friends with Sarvagata and his sister Sarvadhara, who she first met in the Ukraine in 2007.

She describes how the inner and the outer fit so well together here.  “I have not experienced another event like this, but our daily life is like this at every moment.”

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“I think it is the inner inspiration the motivation of the universe that draws us together.  It is very common like recognizes like, and we are drawn together in a similar consciousness in the moment.  I think it is the inspiration that brings us here.”

 “Nothing is impossible.  Our spiritual world governs the mental and material world, not the other way around.”  I suggest that sometimes we forget this.  “That is why every day we need to remind ourselves and others by the example we live, what is true.  So that we do not get distracted by what is not true.”

We look up at the incredible numbers now bulging their way across the board.  I wonder how she or in fact anyone can relate to an event like this.  “Of course we are influenced by the positive example that we are witnessing.  That we see, that we experience.  I think our inner being motivates and inspires each of us in a different time and place.  I think this is a great testimony to what spiritual life can do.  But truly they are doing this in the moment.  Not for 35 days or 48 days or 52 days.  When we are in the moment than everything is possible.”

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I ask Teri if she now sees a difference between the brother and sister that she met 7 years ago and now.  “There is an inner goodness that is always obvious.”

“Being here is being here.  I will always have the internal memory, and the internal life, and the experience.  That is one of the things that has kept my friendship with Sarvadhara and Sarvagata alive since I left the Ukraine.”

Click to Play Interview:

terry

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Sarah did 104 laps yesterday.

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She has a fun moment explaining the story of the balloon that drifted into her hands yesterday.

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She starts day 35 with exactly 1000 miles more to go.

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Really really little things growing.

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I am trying out this brand new invisibility app that I just got on my new phone.  I am pretty sure you can’t see me now, right?

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I hear something. But my goodness I can’t see you.   Just come a little bit closer and I will let you know how it works.

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That is strange I can hear a squirrel but can’t see him..   Now if the cat comes by that is different.

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Jayasalini was off by just a couple of laps from her regular pace.  She did 107.

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The 2 mile race is happening today.

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Everyday she receives messages of encouragement and support.

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Every one means a lot to her and is important.

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She starts day 35 with 2060 miles she is doing well.  This is certain. But we cannot ever forget just how hard a thing she is trying to do for the very first time.

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Her happiness helps just as does the support of everyone who is encouraging and cheering her on.

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When Nidhruvi looked at the board this morning she told William that he would pass her today.

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She did 109 laps yesterday but somehow really needs to get a few more each day.

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Her attitude is great.  She is positive and she is happy and she is doing her best. But she has 2019 laps and is not gaining ground like William is able to do each day.

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At one point today she smiled and told me.  “You just don’t know how hard this.”

She is correct.

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Worlds mysteriously lining up.

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William has such incredible momentum right now.

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It is almost as though something has shifted in William.  That now he can perform and run just like he knew he was capable of.

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There is a look to his eyes that says it all.

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Yet he knows just when to shift gears and have just a precious moment to relax.

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Across the street Alan meets Kumar who he first met trekking in Nepal.

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34 days now gone

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Baladev is enjoying having Nic from New Zealand here at the race.

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Having companionship at anytime for most runners is a good thing.  When today is finished they will have completed 4 full weeks here,

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Baladev had 100 laps yesterday

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Teekshanam has 1858 miles.  He has gone so much further than he has ever run before.

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Sopan is having a positive experience in the way that is not easy for us to see but that he realizes purely for himself.

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“Every morning for weeks now right after we start at 6 am Vasu comes from behind me and says: “Good morning Sopan, how are you?”

“I reply: “Good, quite good! And you?” He says: “Good!” and goes on running. Sometimes in the day Vasu would stop by me and give me his famous stick to make a few moves with it.”

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He now has 1645 miles and will be here until the end.

sopan-wide

I know this looks bad, but I am going to get a job soon and be back on my feet.. I mean back up in the trees soon.

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Ananda-Lahari gives a lot of inspiration to those who walk like he does most days.  He has 1585 miles.

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This is a family in which no one else understands just what it is like.

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“Moose and Maggie are on Saturday mornings on CBS sports radio.  I called them a few weeks ago before the race began.”  He called to take part in one of their discussions on the health of basketball player LeBron James, who was suffering from dehydration.

The talk was that it would take a long time to recover.  Ray said no.  They asked him how he knew.  “I told them I had been doing endurance sports for a long time, and that I was going to be running a 3100 mile race.”

“They were pretty intrigued by it and I told them it was going to be in New York city.  You should give us a call.”

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“I meant to call last Saturday but somehow it became Sunday before I remembered.  You lose track of days out here.”

I ask him if he thought Moose and Maggie, or for that anybody who listens to sport radio can relate to what he and the other runners are doing.

He said the previous caller to the show had just written a book about boxing.  He says that people listening to the writer can’t really relate to boxing as well unless they too are boxers.

“But everybody in the world has had to run in a gym class in school.  So when you start talking about running and you say 3100 miles.  Wow, they can relate that we are running for 52 consecutive days.  They are doing something out there.  Even if the true numbers are not comprehended, there is a wow factor to the idea of 52 days.  There is a wow factor to anything over a 1000 miles.  It is a lot.”

He thinks that a couple hundred thousand listeners probably heard his conversation.  He says it lasted about half a lap or around 5 minutes.

“There are stories here they deserve to be told.  These runners are the best in the world at what they do.  Hopefully we can direction some attention to where it really belongs.”

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He thinks that a couple hundred thousand listeners probably heard his conversation.  He says it lasted about half a lap or around 5 minutes.

“There are stories here they deserve to be told.  These runners are the best in the world at what they do.  Hopefully we can direction some attention to where it really belongs.”

Click to Play Interview:

ray

Terry and the Prayer of the Day

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Click to Play:

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Enthusiasm Awakeners

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Song of the Day

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Click to Play:

Parvati

These long distance races remind me of our Eternity’s race. Along Eternity’s Shore we are running, running, running. We are running and running with our birthless and deathless hopes. We are running and running with the ever-transcending Beyond.

Sri Chinmoy, The inner meaning of sport, Agni Press, 2007

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2 Comments to “July 19: Simplicity Of Running”

  1. Francesco says:

    Hi Utpal
    thank you.

    What I like most
    Is my heart’s endless pilgrimage
    To my soul-destination.

    Sri Chinmoy,1703 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 2, Agni Press, 1998

  2. Doris says:

    I watched the video clip of Steve Jones’ finish a few times. May all the untold stories of self-transcendence in this world shine through it.

    I am so happy about William’s improvement and about everybody definitely doing their best. We may not be able to comprehend it, just watching from afar, but as Ray said in the interview, we can deeply relate to it.

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