“It was my second year here and it was my last day and I was just so exhausted. I knew that I had to finish in 52 days and I was pushing like anything, and it was afternoon. I was completely dead at that point. I was passing somewhere here, (points to a light pole) and I realized. I am dead. I couldn’t make it. I was mentally out. And then I saw a poster on the pole about Sri Chinmoy.”
He turned to the poster and said, “I can’t make it. I am completely tired.”
“Then suddenly a white dove landed right under the poster. Out of nowhere. I was coming there completely dead and saying, I cannot make it. But when the dove landed there I felt, I will make it. I can make it.”
Then in an instant he felt within the answer, not just to why he was running the race, but also to everything that he was really seeking in his life. “You are doing it for me.”
For those who don’t have spiritual teachers or who are not practicing some form of spiritual discipline, the answer, ‘you are doing it for me,’ will not mean much. Explaining spirituality and the inner life is one of those subjects, that you either grasp almost immediately or maybe at least are able to sense a faint glimmer of recognition.
All of us at some point try to make some sense of this great puzzling universe that we all have found ourselves cast into. The more clarity and purpose you have than things start to look and are a little easier.
That is of course if you define easy, as you watch a 200 and something pound guy, sweating and shuffling around a half mile loop every summer for the past 10 years. Who as of today has done a little more than 30,000 miles.
Regardless, every runner at the 3100 has to find inside themselves a very powerful motivation and a clear understanding of just why they want to come to the starting line. To then go the distance and continue it again and again, year after year requires something nearly all of us simply don’t have.
But as Pranjal is unique in his faith and his dedication so too are all the others here. Who have reached within and found something bright and strong that brought them here and continues to inspire them to move and run through such incredible adversity. Maybe they all don’t have the clarity and insight to see what it is, but they all most definitely feel it and express it with their footsteps. Mile after mile, day after day.
Pranjal is a 41 year old Slovakian. The greatest Czech runner of all time is most definitely Emile Zatopek, who over 2 Olympics won 4 gold medals and 1 silver. In 1952 in Helsinki he accomplished something unprecedented and which has never been repeated. He won all the distance events, 5,000, 10,000, and the marathon.
“Zatopek, Zatopek!” was not a name when he entered into the Helsinki Olympic stadium and was about to win the first marathon he had ever run. “Zatopek” was not a name but an incantation: joy-invoking, love-spreading and oneness-becoming reality unparalleled.
The 1952 Helsinki Olympics and Zatopek will always remain inseparable and unique. The Olympics gave Zatopek the opportunity unparalleled. Zatopek gave the Olympics the glory unparalleled.
Now there are just 14 days left. For Sarvagata had his lowest mileage day not just this race but in years. He did 97 laps. But this is not something that concerns himself and Sarvadhara. It is one of those things.
The taxi arrives with its exhausted passengers.
A surprise visitor has showed up in the form of Tirtha.
Start Day 39
It is not going to be hot today but it will be humid. Thundershowers are possible from Wednesday night through to Thursday.
“I just had to come by,” says Tirtha this morning as she runs with Jayasalini and Nidhruvi. “They are amazing. To me they look like new flowers. I really feel purity there.”
Tirtha in 2008 came to run the 10 day race in Flushing Meadow having run no further than a marathon. She came back again the following year and has had some health issues over the last couple of years. The good news is, “I am physically coming back. You never know what the future has to bring.”
Asked about all the runners she says, “I believer that there is so much light that they give and that they receive.”
Nidhruvi says, “it is nice that she is here.”
Tirtha: “I have been reading and following the race every single day.”
Nidhruvi: “I knew from the beginning that she would come.”
Tirtha has volunteered to help in the kitchen and a brief discussion ensues about the addition of Bavarian cuisine.
Nidhruvi: “Maybe we will get more sausages and beer.”
Tirtha: “I doubt it.”
Nidhruvi: “Recently we got beer (non alcoholic) and it was really great. (Laughs)
Jayasalini: “I didn’t know that Tirtha was coming. It was such a surprise, a beautiful surprise. When someone new comes it adds so much. It is like new fresh air is coming. A new energy, it is amazing how it inspires you.”
Tirtha: “I wasn’t sure if I should dare and come out on the course this morning. Or if I should hide behind the trees actually. But I managed.”
I ask her if she is ready to come back to the 10 day race. “I don’t know. My Doctor said it was okay to run the marathon. So I am doing a little training now. But I have to go really slowly to see how things develop.”
As for being here in the middle of things. “It is like being in that movie that you see all the time. You are now part of it. Or, becoming part of it.”
Click to Play Interview:
I don’t know exactly what happened to Sarvagata yesterday.
But both he and Sarvadhara do not seem overly concerned.
He has 453 miles more to go.
Yuri had another day of 119 laps.
Yuri having a fresh doughnut.
He has 574 more miles to go.
Pranjal had a great day yesterday with 119 laps
Just as he did last year he is continuing to make a video each day of the race which he then posts on his website. He says that making it, even though there is extra time involved, helps him to relax.
He thinks that about 100 people come and watch his videos each day. He says he has noticed a comment posted by Grahak that he is drinking too much coffee. “I don’t know who is feeding him this information.”
He is 85 miles ahead of his time last year but doesn’t think he is doing a personal best. He checked the numbers from 2010 and he is 30 miles behind that pace. “It is a half day. It looks like nothing but it is half a day of running. I cannot make it in the few days that are left.”
“I will finish in 9 or 10 days if everything goes alright. I have 1000km to go. I think this morning it should happen.”
Does it seem like a lot? “Compared to 3100 it is not that much.”
I ask what happens when he gets to the finish line. “After the race I just switch it off. And it is over.”
We are on the service road and am curious what kind of thoughts go through his mind. I point over to the camp just on the other side. “Sometimes I think about what I will take there. Should I take water? I am drinking every lap. It is just a habit. Sometimes just one gulp. I am also sweating a lot. I drink quite a bit of ginger ale. I found that it doesn’t irritate my stomach so much. I don’t drink coke at all any more. It had problems with my digestion. Some how ginger ale is okay with me. It has a lot of sugar but it does not have caffeine.”
We come by the handball courts. Many days he finds balls still left there from the previous day. He has picked up 10 balls so far this year. “I have two boxes full of them at home. I can sell you some.”
He describes how he doesn’t really think but instead closes himself. “Sometimes you find a way how to deal with the race. In the beginning you don’t really know what is going on. You are just learning, and you have found this capacity inside of you, and it comes forward.”
He says for somebody like William who is actually improving now, “he has just found it.”
“My first races were also the same. In the first days I would do 60 miles. Now after the first half of the race I just slow down. I could not find the strength. But then I just found something in my 3rd year were I could still keep the pace. Now I slow down but not that much any more. So that is the same with everybody. You just have to find these things.”
“I don’t know what was wrong with me last year. Actually I trained more than than I did this year. Probably I had this problem with my stomach.”
After the race is there anything he looks forward to. “I will sleep all day. Last year I slept for 18 hours or something like that.”
We talk about Ron Hill’s 50 year streak of running every day and Pranjal says that his is now almost 7 years. After the race, “it just came up in my mind. After the race I came here and ran. I said, why shouldn’t I run every day.”
Click to Play Interview:
Thinks delicate and hard.
He has 645 miles to go.
Stutisheel who had a bad day 2 days ago had 115 laps yesterday.
He has 700 miles to go.
I am sure glad they sell these jumbo water bottles now. On a hot day a dog has got to drink a lot.
I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late watching that movie. But it was my favorite, “Lassie Come Home.”
Growing and going.
Sarah had 115 laps yesterday.
She really seems to have found the perfect pace and strategy for her.
Which occasionally includes a well deserved treat
But most of the day it is just a lot of this.
Jayasalini ran 109 laps yesterday.
She has exactly 800 miles to go.
Who is in a world so different that what sometimes flows here and there around her.
But she also is finding and giving encouragement to Nidhruvi. Who is just 40 miles behind.
Nidhruvi who gets so much help as well from Vishvarupani.
And encouragement and enthusiasm from these other ladies.
Who have lots and lots of Enthusiasm.
William is now adding laps to the bank each day.
His friends back home in Orkney have a lot to be proud of.
He did 116 laps yesterday, which gives him 2266 miles.
840 more miles to go.
Life on the course goes on.
Baladev had his best day since day 20
He wanted me to take this picture of him smiling.
He has 2200 miles this morning
Teekshanam is enjoying himself and doing laps. He has 1966 miles.
Sopan did 61 laps yesterday.
He has 1783 miles.
Morning wakes us all.
Ananda-Lahari did 76 laps yesterday.
For him there is no time to play
Mineral, plant, and human life.
And perhaps there is no small irony in the headline of Ray’s newspaper.
And a most special gift he received from Holland.
Teekshanam recites the prayer of the day
Click to Play:
Song of the Day
Click to Play:
The reason why I write:
I long to correct myself.
The reason why I speak:
I long to perfect myself.
The reason why I love:
I long to fulfill myself.
The reason why I serve:
I long to transcend myself.
Sri Chinmoy, Three Hundred Sixty-Five Father’s Day Prayers, Agni Press, 1974