“No Matter what’s happening I just want to be grateful to be out there.”
“I definitely know at the end of it. No matter what shape or form I finish, to even to attempt to challenge something like this. The sense of satisfaction you get out of it. You can’t put a price on it.”
When we spoke, Nirbhasa had just a few days left before he would be running the longest race in the world, The Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile race. Beside him is a mysterious green beverage and in front is his lap top computer.
After I leave he will be spending hours working on it, taking advantage of the abundant wi fi in the cafe and making changes to the 3100 mile website. He is calm and at peace. To be standing on the starting line on Sunday with the 11 other runners is something that he has visualized for himself for the last couple of years.
Prior to that slim 2 year window, the sport of ultra distance running was not something that he had given much thought too. “If you had asked me maybe 3 or 4 years ago that I would be doing multi day racing at all, I don’t know what I would have told you.” Despite this in the Spring of 2013 he ran his first 10 day race.
“I started that race not knowing what to expect.” He says that he had no real goal of what he would achieve in that time. “after four or five days I was still running and I was on course due to do 60 miles a day.” This he knew was the standard necessary to be able to complete the 3100 mile race before the cutoff.
“In the middle of that race I first started thinking about doing the 3100 mile race.”
We can never really know when exactly it is that our own thoughts can catch up to the inspiration that flows and moves within us. Nirbhasa had heard from many others just how profound and trans-formative experience it most often is when a runner commits themselves to running in a multi day race. His decision however to run the 10 day race instead of the 6 came from someplace deep within. “It just goes to show the difference between the mind and the heart. The mind likes to do things in increments. Sometimes the heart gets a feeling and just wants to go for it.”
On the last night of the 2013 race Nirbhasa put on an astonishing display of running when he ran 90 miles for the last 24 hours. He had talked to a veteran runner who described that strategy and he says, “that is what I thought you did. My mind wasn’t looking forward to it. But at the same time I thought, that is what everybody does.” The next closest runner was something like 20 miles shorter for that final day. He made 1000 km for 10 days.
Click to Play Part 1 Interview:
Nirbhasa feels that just because of the intensity of multi day running the mind has to subside at least a little bit. At the time of running he feels you become more connected to your inner self. “You become a lot more aware of what we call grace. Deep within you become connected to something very powerful.”
“When you do these races it is a bit like tight rope walking. You are really pushing yourself out there. It definitely requires a lot of trust, that you have this inner power.”
He describes that just thinking about running 3100 mile race is incomprehensible to the mind. That despite its objections you have to recognize that mentally you can never understand such and imponderable thing and instead have to surrender the deeper parts within yourself. Nirbhasa describes that from his own experience that once he goes beyond the minds objections then many illumining inner experiences start to come forward.
Nirbhasa ran the 10 day race again in 2014, “I was really glad I did because I did a lot better and it gave me a lot of confidence.” In October of 2014 he started to seriously train for the 3100. In February of this year he was notified that he had been accepted.
I ask if there was ever any doubt. “You always have to this thing with your mind and your heart.” He describes how different parts of each person will respond to challenges and tasks in much different ways. One’s mind most definitely will often express its reluctance.
When asked to try and define the monumental task he will soon set off and try and accomplish, “It is a very difficult thing to describe.” He says that so far all his own descriptions have been inadequate. The part that inspires him most he feels are the inner experiences of peace and calm. “You have a lot of different meditation experiences.” He recognizes that there are lower and higher aspects of each person. The race he feels compels him to be drawn more towards the highest.
” You sometimes feel a tremendous sense of intensity. That every second counts. There is a real feeling of being in the moment. I don’t think there is any way that you can do this race with just your body and your mind.”
So much of his motivation Nirbhasa feels comes from his many years of being a student of Sri Chinmoy. Someone who uniquely inspired his students to try and excel with all parts of themselves. He gave tremendous importance to being both physically fit and spiritually aware and also making progress in both. Nirbhasa feels therefore that many people can have an appreciation of events like the 3100 because most people can easily define and understand sports. It is when they draw closer to it that the aspect of self transcendence then begins to be obvious if not unavoidable.
“One of things I have found about distance running is that you have to balance 2 opposites. You have to be very determined. Very intense. At the same time you have to be very relaxed. You have to be in a very peaceful inner space. They may seem like opposites but when you get into the zone you see that they are actually complimentary.”
“It is good to have goals and it is also good to be able to let go of them, and then pick another goal.”
His main goal he says to stay happy and stay cheerful. “That is the key to everything.”
Click to Play Part 2 Interview:
Always be grateful to your soul,
For it is your soul that has inspired you
And led you
To walk along the sunlit road of aspiration.