Day 5… Dare to Do (June 20)

“Yes for sure, I am happy and grateful, to be here again.”

On face value, Ushika’s response to my question, how he was doing, would seem unremarkable. Yet when weighed against his herculean efforts over the past 4 soggy days, and not forgetting his completion of the race in 50 days last summer, it is in truth a remarkable answer.

Over the past 4 days he has accumulated 246 miles, a mere blip, in comparison to the arduous task of completing the additional 2,854 miles that still lies dauntingly in front of him.  He is unequivocal about his eagerness to run here again this summer.  “If I go deep within, it was already clear to me during last years race.”

“Outwardly I was waiting to see how my body would recover before I applied again.  My recovery after the race was good. I even did the August marathon after last years race.  That was good but then I went downhill considerably.”

“It was a difficult time for me.  Not just my body, it was difficult on all levels.  I am definitely planning for a different recovery after this race.”

When asked what he emphasizes in preparing for the race he feels that for him that any preparation is mostly to make his mind more confident.  “You can’t train for a race like this.  But it is still good to do training anyway.”

Ushika says that Rupantar summed up his feeling for the race at the runner’s lunch.  “If God exists, this race is the proof.”

He feels that setting a goal for himself here is futile.  But setting an inner goal is quite a different story.  “Last year I was focusing on gratitude.  This year my focus is on devotion.”

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Day 4… To Arrive At The Destination (June 19)

Kaneenika’s arrival at the 3100 mile race for the first time in 2015 was much anticipated.  She had been participating in multi day races for many years previously and had clearly demonstrated her talent and capacity to take on the longest race in the world.

This race however bestows its rewards on those who run here in many unforeseen ways.  Despite a courageous effort she was unable to complete the distance on her first attempt.  Instead of being disappointed or beaten she then came back the 3 following years and in the process not only completed the race but also set, in 2017, the current women’s record of 48 days and 14 hours.

Now this summer in what would have been her 5th race she is unable to enter due to a knee injury.  This morning I had a chance to speak with her.  “I am definitely missing the race,” she says.

“Until March I was still hoping I would be doing this race and then it was clear that I would not be able.  But I think I am on a good track to recover.”

I suggest that she must have experienced a full spectrum with her 4 previous races.  “It is like life.  You do the same thing every day but every time is different.”

“This experience ( running 3100 ) is really doing me good.  Especially in my inner progress.  I think that is why I am missing the race this year now.  I really feel that this is the place to be for me.”

Kaneenika is clear that there once was a time when she was reluctant to take part in it.  “But when I entered it for the first time it really became a part of my life.”  She says that until she actually ran it she never understood the fascination of those who looked forward to returning year after year.

Nidhruvi once mentioned that if she should ever enter the race she would find herself addicted to it.  “I said, this will never happen to me. But here I am.”

She once asked Vasu if he would come back to the race and he told her, of course, this is my life. “I think this has happened to me too.”

“There is something that draws you here. It is definitely not something that can be explained on an outer level.  As she speaks about her many experiences her she says that all the pain and suffering that she endured here has vanished.  Instead she says she can only see the positive.

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Day 3… What is a Challenge? (June 18)

There is probably no one more surprised that he is running the 3100 Mile Race this year than Smarana himself.  Most years, not too long ago, it would have been a given.   He completed the race 7 years in a row after all and then their was the infinite break in time of almost 9 years.

It is not clear just how it happened but once again inspiration and enthusiasm and training collected themselves together in this fine Austrian runner and he dedicated himself to coming back once more to run again in 2017.

Now came a brand new experience.   The kind of thing that tugs at your heart, particularly when you are so fond and in admiration of this great runner.  The finish line was not crossed.

So with hope and inspiration somehow renewed, once more he came back last year in 2018.  And once more the story repeated itself.  He smiled, he valiantly tried so so hard again, and yet once more completing the distance remained elusive.

So many hearts ached for him and yet he did not crumble or even once show that he was discouraged.  A champion for 52 days was a task that he was able and willing to do.

This year he runs again and is running with strength and joy and trying to keep a safe distance between himself and the last 2 years.   He says, “definitely a difference from the years before.” Smarana tells me he likes the group of runners assembled this year, “it is a very nice crew.”

“Until March I hadn’t even considered running at all.”  But in April a visit to a well know Ayurvedic local Doctor changed his thinking dramatically.  He suggested in no uncertain terms that he should enter the race.  Smarana is cautious about revealing all what was said in the Doctor’s office.  Clearly the prescription was not a casual pronouncement.  But involved some very specific steps that he would have to undertake in order to achieve success.

“Every race is a story and it is very clear what the story is for this race, and so far I am working on it quite well.”

“He told me, if your overcome (this and that), you will fly in this race. I am working on this and that let’s see if I can grow wings.”

“It shows that everything has to come together here, not just the mind and the body.  All the family members have to come together, and enjoy the feast.  I am trying to get them all into one spot and make it work.”

“I by myself would not have decided on my own to do the race, especially my mind.  Somebody else wanted me to do it so I just let go of everything.  I am surrendering, what ever happens happens.  I will do my best.  I am just going to try and stay in my heart and be happy.  Whatever happens I gladly accept.”

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Day 2… Transformation Embodies (June 17)

“I still know who I am after one day in the competition.”

Todor laughs for I have just asked him who he is.   But in fact he is familiar to many in the ultra running community.  He ran the 6 day race in Flushing Meadow in 2017 and did a very good 442 miles.

“I come from Bulgaria and I work as a naval officer in a Naval Defense college where I am a chief assistant professor.   I love running that is why I am here.  It is an amazing competition and an amazing atmosphere.”  He adds that even though he has competed in races all over the world there is no event that he has entered thus far that compares to the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile race.

He is amazed at the feeling of love and support he is receiving from the other runners and also all the organizers and all those who volunteer.  “That feeling is amazing and without it, yesterday would have been much much more difficult for me.”

Todor says that in other competitions he is usually a little faster.  “But here on this concrete with the different weather conditions it is quite complicated.  If the other more experienced runners hadn’t helped me it would have been much different.”

His helper, also named Todor, he says, “helped me a lot.  He is the one who helped the most and without him I would definitely not get 71 miles.”

“My idea yesterday was not to concentrate on speed but instead be steady.  Not to push myself.  If you push yourself you can get more injuries.” Todor is also getting used to just how hard the concrete sidewalk is.

Todor believes that an inner approach to the race is crucial. “If you want to use just your physical to do this I am sure you will find after just one day that it is impossible.  No way.  You have to find some other source.”

“If you go within you will find it easier and just possible to finish the race.”  When obstacles come he feels that you can overcome them with happiness and with inner strength.  You need to have a feeling of oneness with the other runners and with the helpers.”

“We are going forward and forward.”

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Start of 3100…Transcendence is Perfection (June 16)

Start of the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2019

The board early

Harita and Suhasini setting up

Pushkar looks on

Sahishnu getting one of the counters ready

Setting up the live streaming webcams

Time passes

Still setting up

A crew is here from Brazil

Kaneenika is unable to run the race this year

The world around us

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