They have run so many laps and miles together over the past 18 days that is literally impossible to know just how many. Whatever the number may be it is a lot.
Galya completed 1309 miles last night. He suspects that many hundreds of them have been completed with Stutisheel, running at his side. The scuffing of their feet along the dusty sidewalk creates a pleasing hypnotic cadence. They have both placed a great dent in the tremendous goal they are both trying to conquer.
Stutisheel says, “usually long distance races are quite lonely. It is good to have a running friend.”
I ask Galya if he missed not running with Stutisheel a few days ago when he was having some problems. “I was sad the he was suffering. But I stopped almost each lap to talk with him.”
Stutisheel: “He was asking me all the time how I was suffering. By the way, every time I feel that I am limiting his speed, I just let him go. He is faster and more powerful right now.”
Galya: “We have the same speed when we run together.” He than jokes that the only reason he ran the race this year was because Stutisheel promised to run 70 mile days.
Stutisheel: “Second half. We have time.”
Galya has passed Atmavir to take over 2nd place. He says he is just trying to maintain his same orderly pace everyday of doing 70 mile days. In fact he has not dipped below that amount for the entire race so far.
“I am trying to do 70 miles a day. What is happening on the board (place) is not so important. Atmavir is my friend too. He will start running soon and he can take his place back again.” Atmavir is 43 miles behind.
Galya says he is not comparing his mileage to his previous races. He does know that his 10 day marks, and both his 1000 mile and 1300 mile personal bests he has broken.
Talking about Ashprihanal, “he is trying to stay ahead of Madhupran (current record holder 2006). I am sad that I cannot help Ashprihanal because I am not so fast.” He says that even though Ashprihanal has not said as much they can see that he has been trying since the start to break the record. “He can do it.”
Galya says that for several days during the race he had an experience in which he was almost oblivious to the hard sidewalk and all the construction going on around him. “It was transformed. It was like I was in heaven. I was just running and I felt connected to heaven. I think if I only have this experience this race. This is enough….more than enough.”
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The weather is going to stay mild and pleasant at least until Sunday.
The Rupantar taxi pulls up with very tire passengers.
There will be no more road work for at least a couple of more weeks.
Start Day 19
Sahishnu, one of the race directors, tries to be very precise when he calculates records. Ashprihanal is so quickly pushing into new territory it may take weeks to accurately understand and record all his various records the he is currently accumulating.
His efforts have been relentless. His 18 day total of 1389 was 22 miles further than Madhupran’s record.
The presence of Grahak as a helper has clearly added something very significant to the record attempt.
The road conditions have never been worse. The weather so far perhaps the best ever.
Each day dawns with the hope building around the world, that on this his 13th year, he will set a new record.
Atmavir is working hard at trying to sort out just exactly what is happening with him. He ran 42 miles yesterday and has 1266 miles.
The bright sun along the service road.
Yuri had a great day with 68 miles. He has 1244 miles.
He starts the day 22 miles behind Atmavir.
Vasu is once again accumulating a steady supply of 70 mile days.
Vasu has 1234 miles today.
Nirbhasa had his first hard day. He ran 49 miles and has 1116 miles.
He has built up a very comfortable cushion for just such an occurrence.
Stutisheel had a much better day than his previous. He ran 56 miles.
He is moving well today. He has 1100 miles.
He and Galya run a lot together today. Here Ashprihanal explains the play he and Grahak just performed.
“To you it is just a big tree. To me it is home.”
Surasa had a 60 mile day.
Surasa has 1095 miles
Nature has so many faces to share.
Kaneenika had her hardest day of the race so far.
There will always be some problems along the way. She ran 49 miles and has 1081 miles.
Today she seems to be moving well.
She receives the best possible care.
Larisa counts and sings.
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Ananda-Lahari had his best day since day 5. He had 61 miles.
He had 1011 miles for day 18
Baladev had 46 miles yesterday.
He is doing his best and has 985 miles.
Everyone is trying their best to support everyone who does so much here.
Eventually the light finds us all.
Go forward we all must.
“It is interesting to me. A lot of people run and do athletics and they do them for spiritual reasons.” Sanjay has been at the race since early morning filming the runners with his friend Alex.
“Maybe they do it consciously or unconsciously for a sense of clarity. For emotional release. They do it to feel progress. What I have seen in this race is that running is a legitimate spiritual path. In the spiritual life you are taught that prayer and meditation should be the foundation. That whatever you do after the prayer and meditation should be infused with that spirit of meditation.”
“With these runners they look at nutrition as a tool. They look at stretching as a tool. For them meditation and prayer are tools to get more out of their running. Meditation and prayer are like warmups to their running.”
“In the modern world the idea of running as a spiritual path is extremely rare. That is at the core of the 3100. But other cultures in the past looked at running as a way to connect to, not just mother earth, but to the skies and to the heavens. They understood that when you ran you breathed in a higher reality. That is echoed in Sri Chinmoy’s words. It is a very very ancient practice. It is something that has existed in humanity for 2 or 3 million years.”
“I did the 6 day race for the first time this Spring. I can’t say that it gave me any insight in particular to what the 3100 mile runners do. It is totally different.” He confesses that he did not perform as well as he would have liked.
“That said, I still had an incredibly deep experience. It made me understand why people do these races. It is not how they complete it. I didn’t go that deep or have a profound physical experience. But it is an addiction. You can have a meditative experience for 8, 10, 12, 15 hours at a time. When you run with that spiritual attitude. It showed me that running is a spiritual path.”
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Bashata recites the Prayer of the day
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Do not count the time you have lost,
But count the time
That is at your immediate disposal.
The time that is before you
Is more than enough
To enter into Infinity’s Heart
And Eternity’s Perfection-Delight.