At 6 a.m. this morning the 3100 mile race started for the 20th year in a row.
For Ashprihanal his appearance here for the 14th time is something truly historic and significant. This 45 year old runner from Finland set the record here last year and could so easily have left it at that, but he did not. Last year as well he equaled Suprabha’s incredible record of running the race 13 times.
Something spoke within him. The champion enters the ring once more. His joy and delight writ large across him.
This morning he is sharing this special moment but as well with a Joy Day taking place in Austria. You can hear them cheering in the background.
Stutisheel is running the race for the 12th time. “Every day is new. Every breath is new. Every 3100 is new even if you have done it before. It is a new challenge, it is something big and I am looking forward to it.”
Stutisheel feels calm in these few minutes before the race. He says what worries he might have had all came and past earlier in the week. “But now I am pretty good. I am at peace. I am focused.”
He wears a headband that Sri Chinmoy gave to him in 2006.
Link to his website:
Sahishnu said before the race started, “The real reason for the race is to inspire other people in other walks of life. To get them out of their comfort zone and to try and achieve a little bit more, and to also discover other capacities inside themselves. That is the ultimate goal.”
“To see that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. You can say this about a lot of other ultra races they are a long test, but this is a long long long test. It is like running from Los Angeles to New York with a also a side trip to Trenton New Jersey.”
Just start and see.
How to start?
Just start and feel.
When to start?
Just start and reach.
Shamita is running for the first time.
This is Yuri’s 4th time here.
Sanjay is making a documentary of the race this year.
Jowan taking pictures.
Everyone is in place at last.
Those early laps.
The board just starting to receive its increasingly heavy load.
Ashprihanal thrilled to be here and running.
Also glad to have his friend Sopan in the race.
There is no scaffolding on the course this year.
Ananda-Lahari a veteran of the race.
This is Kaneenika’s 2nd time at the race.
She is incredibly talented and experienced athlete.
She is going to do her best.
Matt Green is here for the start just as he has done most years. He has been working on a project of walking the length of every st in New York city.
He has completed about 7350 miles over the past 4 1/2 years. Matt loves it and still has a long way to go.
Counters in the camp
Atmavir running for the 9th time.
A rock painted by Joey decorates the fence.
“It is about time you runners showed up. I have been waiting all summer even though summer doesn’t start for 2 more days.”
One hour past.
Visitors to the start of the race.
Volodymyr running for the first time.
The numbers quickly start to increase.
Vasu and Stutisheel
Surasa set the women’s record here last year at age 56.
Sopan climbing the hill
The very first shift of counters.
Shamita getting help from her husband Dohai.
She is glad to be here for the first time.
She has tremendous experience.
Just before the start of the race she was given a gift by her Austrian friends.
She has quite a few instructions for her handlers to follow.
“This has to be the best seat in the house to watch the race except there are no seats.”
A tiny bit of green
Across the street the Father’s Day marathon is taking place.
Nirbhasa somehow drifts across the street to be where he spent all of last summer running the race himself.
A t shirt with the words Sri Chinmoy used to describe the 3100 mile runners.
Just a few of Nirjarini’s cooking crew
Suprabha has seen the 3100 mile race from its very beginning and even more. She ran the 2700 mile race which took place the year before.
“It has always been astonishing and marvelous. I think Guru set it up that way. He had the vision that it was possible. All those who stood at the starting line and continue to be on the starting line just have to go with the dream.”
“It has always been thrilling. Once you have done it a few times you kind of know what you are in for. Inside there is a little bit of trepidation. But no matter what your experiences by the end I have never hung on to the difficult parts.”
“What you keep with you are the beautiful moments and the victory of the finish.”
Suprabha describes Ashprihanal as simply amazing. She says that he sometimes looks as though he is part bird. “He is kind of unique. He sometimes has this puzzled look on his face like the Little Prince. That he has just arrived from some other planet. At the same time he is totally aware and totally tuned in. Also always in a very nice consciousness.”
She says that his pace is so fast that it inspires and motivates all the other runners. “Also he doesn’t get bogged down with blisters. He seems to be somewhat immune. But every one has their moments because it is challenging. He rises above a lot of that.”
I ask Suprabha whether or not the outside world understands the race. Her reply, “Do we understand the race?”
She recalls a time when the great runner Ted Corbitt was questioning with Sri Chinmoy whether or not he should run the 6 day race again. At the time he had to have been at least 80 years of age. Sri Chinmoy humbly said that when one runs these kind of races their participation inspires the world in ways they cannot even imagine.
Click to Play:
Tanya reads the poem of the day.
These are my golden children. When they run, every breath of theirs enters into my heart-affection, love, sweetness and fondness for them. How I appreciate the runners! How I admire them! God alone knows the depth of my appreciation and admiration.
Sri Chinmoy, My golden children, Agni Press, 2013