It’s Not a Race it’s a Game

cimg2401I am standing in the parking lot of the 6 & 10 Day race and I feel almost as though I am caught up in a swirling tide of humanity.  The race now has swollen to 80 runners, and on this warm sunny Monday afternoon, in every direction I look they are all either coming or going at this moment on the course.

The weather has once again become sensible.  Meaning only, ridiculous April temperatures have been replaced by just warm ones.  As I gaze out across the park I am aware of an ebb and flow of runners.  I cannot help but sense the great outpouring of energy taking place here beside the still lake.  And there is a unique irony to all this to and froing.  As much as great quantities of energy are being spent, none is ever really lost.  At one point the 10 day race leader Madhupran goes by and says, “this is not a race…it’s a game.”

He has run 425 miles in a little over 5 days.


They each ran more than 100 miles in the first 24 hours of the 6 day race.  If anyone thought that Pam Reed and Dipali Cunningham would be inspired to push themselves to new heights, they would have been correct.  With just one day gone it would be silly to make any kind of prediction about the outcome.  Perhaps only one thing is certain.  It will be a memorable experience for both of these superb athletes, and without a doubt each will find themselves tapping into their deepest reserves of strength, courage and heart. 

cimg23501He told me, “It will be a new uplifting experience for me.  When I first talked to Andrey Somov 29 St Petersburg Russia before the start, he had told me that the longest he had run, prior to the 6 day race, was a 24 hour orienteering race.  As I look at him today he has already far surpassed that time and distance.  The board says that he has now completed 79 miles and by the time he gets to 48 hours it will be even larger.  For him, on the surface of things, it is an inevitable and p1020995obvious case of self transcendence.

But of course it is that and much more.  As a first time multi day runner he appears to be very happy.  He walks by and waves with real enthusiasm.  He seems to be having the time of his life.  He had told me yesterday,”I would like to see some changes in me, inner and outer.” He appears well on his way.

Andrey Somov

Click to play interview

p1020984Joe Cleary says he has had a subscription to Ultra running for 20 years.  “The first time I saw this race I said this is my kind of thing but I never came. It was just one excuse after another.”  Now of course Joe has fulfilled a long held wish, and with 60 milep1020983s  already on the board he is pushing into new ultra distance terrain.

He has attempted several 100 mile events but never before entered a race even anywhere as long as the 6 day race he is currently  running.  He is being helped by Cheryl who is in the same running club as he is in Georgetown Ontario.  She tells me that it is amazing being here and adds, “it makes me think I want to do it myself.”

I had heard that he was the oldest runner in the event


and he tells me, “I am 69 which is not old as runners go.  I am having a ball here it is awesome.”

Joe Cleary

Click to play interview

cimg2377Sopan Tsekov, a 26 year old runner from Bulgaria tells me, “I am still enjoying it.  I feel strongly that it is the right thing to do.”  He currently is in 4th place in the men’s 10 day race with 348 miles.  He has tremendous experience in distance running and hopes to improve upon his personal best of 645 miles.  He has a deep and personal commitment to the sport and says, “My soul is inspiring for something.  I feel this is the way to manifest this aspiration”


Elena Sidorenkova is 42 from smolensk Russia.  She is currently 4th in the 10 day women with 323 miles

p1020993“It’s like a family,” says Chantelle Gouin, and though she refers to the community of runners and helpers that makes up the 6 and 10 day race she also can just as easily refer to her own family.  She and her son Tommy have been helping her husband Michel since the weekend.  He had started the 10 day race on wednesday and since his wife and cimg2386son appeared he is running better.  Last year he ran 541 miles and says, ” I want to improve myself.”  When I ask him how far he would like to go this year he says, “542,” and laughs.

Michel Gouin

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cimg2392Igor Mucryk 35 from Vinnitsa Ukraine is in 3rd place in the men’s 10 day race. He has run 383 miles so far.  Last year he ran 337 miles in the 6 day race.  He seems to be constantly moving and I have to move quickly to catch up with him.  He speaks little English so I ask him to tell me what his experience has been so far in the race.  This is a translation of what he said in Russian.

For me the race means, I feel that I have to do something for my inner growth, and maybe for the inner growth of others around me.  And I get tremendous satisfaction from getting transcendence.  This is a great joy.”

cimg2399cimg2376Rick tells me he comes by every day to check out the race.  He is a runner himself and as he looks at the board he says, “That’s a lot of miles.”

Andrew is walking excitedly with his daughter Tiffany through the village.  They are enjoying the spirit and energy here.

cimg2397“I come back because of the challenge,” says 63 year old Nirbili File.  This is her 7th multi day and along with her husband Nick, who is one of the main helpers, they are an integral part of the Self-Transcendence race community.

Nirbili File

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p1030005Just a few of the Countesses

p1030004p1030003They will leave at 7pm and then another and another and still another group will keep coming until the hours have all slipt away.

p1020986“We have never run together before.  We have different pace.  Somehow we really enjoy running together and laughing together.” Jayasalina Abramovskikh 28 Moscow is telling me about how she and Kateryna Krot 33 Ukraine have become the best of running partners since almost the moment the 10 day race started.  Their joy is real and they take turns telling me how much they are enjoying each others company, and how this relationship on the road takes away some of the fatigue of the many miles they have run.  Jayasalina says, “we don’t notice miles passing by.”

They talk about how sometimes it just seems to be impossible to go on and then the energy just comes.  Jayasalina says, “there is no such thing as impossible.”

Jayasalina & Kateryna Interview

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p1030015p1030006“I think sometimes that even an elephant can fly,” says Kushali Tarantsova 41 Ukraine.  who has run 5 multi day races.  With the start of yesterday’s race she was joined in a very real way by her musical partner Rajeshri Muzychenko 38 Ukraine. With her presence and that of the other 6 day runners she says, ” I felt new energy and new joy.”


click to play interview

Kushali & Rajeshri singing

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The mind enjoys

The newness-game.

The heart enjoys

The soulfulness-game.

The soul enjoys

The oneness-game.

God enjoys

His Fulness-Game.

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 2 by Sri Chinmoy.

Happy Turtle

cimg2348p1020935It was a brand new day at the 6 & 10 day race today.  There were 36 fresh faced runners pacing around anxiously waiting for their special moment when they too could throw their lives into the unparalleled adventure which is the 6 day race.  The 10 day runners have already journeyed past the magical 3 day point.  The place in which most runners say the flow of the race takes over.  Instead of battling against the race the race instead takes hold of you, if you let it, and then deposits you eventually at your journeys close.

The battle hardened and somewhat weary 10 day runners feel the rush and flow of these new ones.  It gives them more life, and more will, that may have been drained away by cold dark nights.  Nights chasing after elusive sleep or perhaps the opposite, trying to break free from its tenacious grasp.  All now, whether they are waiting to step forward to the line or have already tread upon it for hundreds of miles, feel the great weight of a hot day now bearing down relentlessly.  It is as though April, instead of turning a gentle page into May, instead flipped the book directly into July.  It will be hot for next few days.

cimg2367The trees have yet to catch up to this impossible pace of changing weather.  The leaves, with their cool protective shade are still a week away.  The sun will be unbearable for most of the day.  And then they say the thunderstorms will charge in fast behind the heat.  This is what they say.  But what they do, the runners of the 6 day race, is put on hats and creams and drink as much as they can.  But what they do, the runners of the 10 day, is just keep pushing on.  There are many days ahead of adventure and dreams and self transcendence.

p1020964Sahishnu is getting the numbers ready for the new runners.  He says that the efforts of Madhupran and kaneenika in the 10 day race are helping to pull along the other runners in that race.  Of the hot weather that has set in, he says, “I much prefer it over the rain.”  He says the race is a unique community in which everyone is, “trying to do their best.”

Sahishnu’s Interview

Lenka Svecova from the Czech Republic receives her race number

p1020934p1020950“Its like my 25th or 26th multi day. ”  Chanakhya Jakovic is often the called the grandfather of distance running for good reason.  A good portion of his 55 years have been spent at pursuing long distance races.  He does admit however that he is a little excited and nervous about this race.  He will move away from New York and America in just 2 weeks time.  He says of the race, “It is another opportunity to experience Transcendence.

Chanakhya’s Interview

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cimg2361cimg2370“I feel very calm and happy.” Dipali Cunningham, 50 years old, from Melbourne Australia is about as seasoned and as experienced as they get in Multi day running races.  Since 1991 she has won 22 of 29 races.  She says she is very excited about the presence of Pam Reed in the race, who holds the 24 and 48 hour American records.  Of the hot weather, which she calls Australian like, she says, “we have to take it very calm and very easy.”

Dipali meeting Pam Reed for the first time.

Dipali Interview

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p1020945I ask Rajeshri  Muzychenko why she has not entered the 10 day race to run along with her friend  Kushali.  “For me 10 day laughing is too much for me 6 day laughing is okay,” and with this she laughs.  Both herself and her friend are amazingly talented musicians who have given 100’s of concerts but both have been inspired over the years to enter this most challenging race, which they do with more humor and joy than just about anyone you have ever met.  This year will be her 5th multi day race.  Last year when conditions were bad she says amazingly, “I had my best race.”

She admits that she is not a runner but describe herself as the best turtle on the road.  She tells me that she would rather be a happy turtle than a sad deer.

Rajeshri Interview

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p1020970Many have come to this race for the first time.  For those who have sampled the challenge of a 24 hour race a 6 day is the next great leap forward into the world of distance running.  Allan Harman from Vancouver is taking that leap.  Here he is taking a picture of the scoreboard.


Allan Harman applying sun screen

p1020939p1020944Liubov Stebneva from St Petersburg Russia and Regina Plyavinskaya also from St Petersburg.

Joe Cleary 69 from Canada is running his first multi day

cimg2354Pete Stringer 67, from Osterville MA ran here for the first time in 2007 and has been wanting to come back ever since.  He calls the race, “unexcelled in good vibes and peace.”  He is being supported by his wife Jane who says, “hp1020946e has a crazy goal but still it makes a lot of sense.”  She also adds, “I love the people here.”

Pete and Jane Stringer Interview

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p1020953p1020966Viddyut Balmer is a 26 year old runner from San Francisco.

Mark Dorion is a perennial participant in this race.

p1020958p1020960Vlasimil Dvoracek is 49 from Orlici Czech Republic.  He has tremendous experience in distance running having completed 63 ultras.

Vishuddhi Trummer 46 from Vels Austria has completed 20 ultra events.


Sandhani giving an interview to NewYork 1.

Sandhani’s Interview with NY 1

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Andy Cable ready to run and the sun

cimg2353“I am not going to speak for 6 days during the entire race,” says Shishaldin Hanlen, a 28 year old runner from Brooklyn.  She says this in the brief few minutes before the start of the 6 day race.  She is appearing in this race for the 4th time and has taken on this unique and most difficult challenge she says, “in order to meditate, transcend, it going to be a difficult challenp1020941ge.”  She adds, “I don’t know if I can even do it.”

Shishaldin interview

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Start of Race

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Rupantar Leads the first lap

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Kodanda, Virendra, and Jowan play

p1020971For just a brief while the 6 day board remains empty.  With each lap completed the numbers will grow.  In no time, the 6 day runners will look a lot like the 10 runners.  Dreams of Self Transcendence will both blossom and die with each step of their human bodies.  But their divine spirits will follow only one ascending path, to a goal that lies just beyond.

Go forward!

Go forward!

Be not afraid

Of even

A marathon-obstacle!

Excerpt from The Beginning And The Arriving by Sri Chinmoy.

Meant For This World

p1020911Saturdays in Flushing Meadow are always a busy time.   Today, with its unseasonably warm temperatures brought even more life and energy into the bustling park.  The temperature pushed into the mid 80’s and for Preetiduta Thorpe from Auckland New Zealsand  it was a chance to reuse the umbrella she must have used to protect herself from the cold rain a few days earlier.

She has 121 miles in this her first multi day race

p1020924Madhupran Schwerk still leads with 290 miles.  The runners can enjoy sports from around the world as they wind their way through the one mile loop.  We don’t know what Madhupran, who is from Germany, thinks about cricket.

p1020918There is a tradition at the race that when the weather gets hot the ice cream comes out.  Every runner can have as much ice cream as they like.  Perhaps the most enthusiasm can be shown on the faces of the runners when they receive their first cups.  Here Jayasalina Abramovshikh from Moscow (211 miles) and Kateryna Krot (155 miles) from Ukp1020912raine are about as happy as runners can be.

A short time later Kateryna has something to celebrate when Jayasalina congratulates her on reaching 150 miles.

cimg2309p1020905“I really enjoy these races, you definitely have your really hard times when you want to give up, and don’t want to take another step.”  Sarah Barnett from Australia is far from giving up in this race or in fact any of the 5 other events she has competed successfully in, all over the world.  She was last here in 2006 when she placed first for the women with 611 miles.  She runs confidently and with real power every time I have seen her in the past 3 days.

She first came to this race as a helper for a runner, and as is the case in many instances, she wanted to try it for herself.  She tells me, “You just get the feeling that you are meant for this world.”  After that race she says, “I instantly wanted to come back.”  She tells me that in general she runs for her own enjoyment but admits that sometimes the races bring out a competitive spirit in her.

p1020927She tells me that when she first started running she was inspired by the words and philosophy of Sri Chinmoy.  That for her distance running was an ideal way to channel her dynamic energy into a arena in which you would be face to face with the spirit of Self transcendence.  She also says how inspired she is by the great runners like Yannis Kouris, Madhupran, and Sandy Barwick.  “Those people who are just so much better than everyone else.  They have got focus and can bring down such intense energy.”

p1020925She relates a conversation she had during the middle of the night in which Madhupran told her that he looks upon running as a form of meditation.  She says that the Sri Chinmoy races are, “more meditative than competitive.” She says that she hopes to compete for at least another 20 years but really wants to run for the rest of her life.  She says that for her running is a way to find and bring happiness into your life.

“At he end of the race you realize why you have run this, because you have this calmness and happiness.  You have an appreciation for everyone.”  She describes that so often in our lives we get caught up in situations where one just goes through the motions of living.  “You get caught up in everything,” she says.  “Anywhere you live you can choose to be miserable or happy.”

The complete Sarah interview

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Antana’s Group

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At the end of Sri Chinmoy st. in the park is the Sri Chinmoy Peace garden.  This mom and her daughter were strolling by and saw some tulips that had fallen over.  They spontaneously came by to put them straight.

Pratishruti Khisamoutdinova is 65 and from Smolensk Russia.  She currently has run 179 miles.


Kushali Tarantsova is 41 from the Ukraine.  she has run 141 miles


“Its incredible because he really got into marathoning at a late age. He amazes me, an old guy like him cimg2317suddenly picking up a sport.”  Walter Brooks is Mike’s older brother and has come down for the day from his home in Massachusetts to support him.  Of Mike he says, ” he is tough as nails.”   I ask him why he thinks Mike has taken on perhaps the toughest race in the world.  Walter says, “It just shows his dedication for the families he is running for.  It is not about ego, it is about raising money for the families. “

p1020926“I really like this experience of oneness.  It is like being in a big family.”Luba Ukrainskyl is helping at the race for the first time.  She is working with Sushovita in the kitchen and says,  “There is a lot of joy.”  She tells me that when she and the crew prepare the food they feel a onenesnes with the runners.  Shey says that she feels the inner presence of her late Spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.  She says, “It is very sweet and very strong. “

Her husband Misha is running the race for the second time.  He currently has 185 miles.  He tells me that when he came the first time his first day was very inspiring and then it got tough.  Then his last 2 days were much better.  I ask cimg2322him why he has returned and he says, “because of that first day last year.”  He says over the course of the race last year he started to realize, step by step, what the race was all about.

The three of us are walking along together, and I ask an indelicate question.  I wonder if the presence of his wife helps, and he answers, “absolutely.  There are so many small things you do not have to think about.”  What he prefers to think about he says is his inner life.  He feels being in the race provides him with an opportunity to focus on that alone and his relationship to his late teacher Sri Chinmoy.  He says, “when it is hard and when it is good I know with whom I want to share the race.”  He pauses for a moment, “all the struggles, and all the joy.”

p1020919p1020921“The hardest part is the preparation for the race.  It is like pushing a huge rock up a steep incline.  When you get to the top it just rolls down by itself.”  Rupantar is the Race Director and has been overseeing the race almost non stop for the last week.  He usually is here overnight but this afternoon a few jobs have called him back.  It is anybodys guess how much sleep he will get before he is once again is out here at 1am in the morning.

The 6 day race will start tomorrow but he is not overly concerned.  p1020920He says the biggest number of runners was in the 10 day race.  All the problems with the large field have been taken care of.  When the new runners start, he says, “Their enthusiasm and energy trnaslates into the 10 day people”.

We are walking along the route and he is posting litle signs along the route.  Madhupran comes by and the two have a good laugh asking for directions.

He tells me, “The best part is believing you can do this.  You can handle the physical set up and all the pressures and worries.  You name it I worry about it.”    When asked to describe the influence of Sri Chinmoy on the event, he says, “You absolutely know that something else is guiding this thing.  Everyone believes in the philosohy of self transcendence.   You can see it in the runners smiles and in the help that we get. “

cimg2329cimg2337Nick, who is one of the main helpers takes a break with a book

John spofford 49 from Hawaii has run 10 multi day races and is here to run the 6 day for the first time.  He says he came to run this race, “because of the Spritiual aspect of it.

cimg2335“This is my second 10 day and I have done two 6 days.”  Abhaya Field has become a regular to this race over the past few years.  From New Zealand and at age 64 she has come a long way in many respects.    She first came here to be a helper and her first thoughts were, ” I would never do it.  It looked so torturous.”

p1020931What inspired her to actually do this race was a weight lifting record set by her late Spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy  Some years ago he did a record wrist curl and dedicated it to senior citizens and told them to never give up.  She thought to herself, “what can I do?”  And then she realized that she had to put one foot in front of the other.  In her first race she says she felt his energy in and through her.  “I had never run before,” she says. Of this race she says, ” I am still trying to never give up, in everything I do.

cimg2341“This is my first day at the race and I am having fun.  Particularly with that last person.  She was very entertaining.  She will be running along a lot easier now. ” Gaurish has volunteered to help in medical today and already the results can be seen in the happy faces of his patients.  More importantly it will be experienced in the ease of the miles they will cover after his amazing chiropractic offering.

cimg2343Bigalita who was his patient as I came along had drawn a large audience with her initial noisy reaction to his work.  Now she is laughing as she says, “he pulled me and pushed me and prodded me.”  I ask her if she feels better, and she says, “I don’t know yet.”  Gaurish adds, “do you notice she is laughing more?”  Sure enough the moment she is back on the course I see her lightly running away.  This will be the first time she has been able to run in days.

p10208566 day runners arriving for tomorrows start


Each new day

Is a gift.

Each new day

Is opportunity’s revelation-sky.

Each new day

Is reality’s manifestation-sun.

Excerpt from Transcendence-Perfection by Sri Chinmoy.

Each Mile is a Flower

p1020833The curious race of Madhupran Schwerk continued today.  For a man, who just yesterday saw his dreams of reaching 1000 miles shatter, today he looks confident and secure and is moving well, and oddly enough, still perhaps able to make it any way.  It appears as though a new destiny is slowly and surely revealing itself to him.  It is a goal, one can easily imagine that may not be reached before the 10 day cut off, yet will nonetheless be much clearer to him with each step and mile he completes. For all intents and purposes he seems now to be pursuing an inner goal.

cimg2298On his phenomenal first day he ran 136 miles and in the next 24 he has run something like 80.  Whatever the case he still retains a comfortable 40mile lead over the second place runner Igor Mudryk.  The entire time I am at the race today he is moving.  Not running true, but walking fast, and certainly on the cusp of being back on his toes.  He tells me again, “this is my last race and from the first day I am becoming all my old injuries from my running life.”  With this remark he points to a number of places on his body and then just laughs.  As if the frailties of human life will never be understood.

p1020822He points to his knee which he tells me is swollen.  He says, “At least I can run a little so I can call myself a runner.” With this he gives another hearty laugh, and adds, “Here I must learn a lot of things.”  He tells me it is no longer about time and splits but about people, nature, feelings, and people together.  He says, “I must make it free in my brain, now I can relax. My last race must not be about fighting but about surrender.”

p1020807p1020837Olga Soboleva, from Smolensk Russia has completed 119 miles, while Devabala Malits has run 131.

Muslim from New Zealand does a lap with Rasto Ulicny from Slovakia who is in 5th spot with 158miles.

p1020851“The first day Devabala is over enthusiastic, running, running, running, and I believe it can go on like this.”  He is speaking about himself in the 3rd person, but Devabala is explaining an experience well known to many multi day runners.  Then he adds, “the second day you just get broken down totally.”  He laughs as he says this.  He has run this race 10 times and he is all too familiar with the races’ obvious joys and its profound struggles.

There is an intensity of experience here that has no comparison in ones normal day to day routines.  On the physical, mental, and spiritual level multi day running will appear to test  runners to limits, they never dreamed possible nor they thought they could ever experience.  Yet if one believes life is ultimately about self transcendence, than there can be no finer or more challenging course to take than to enter and complete a multi day race.

cimg2304Bipin will be working on his little town probably right up to the moment he starts to tear it down.  Which will start to take place several hours before the race has even finished.


A team of counters are present 24 hours a day.  The number will almost double when the 6 day race starts in 2 days time.

p1020852Tirtha is currently tied for 7th place with 147 miles.  She is having some leg problems and has gone to the sidelines for some rest, some advice, and comfort from her friends.  The community that is created during the course of the race is all about oneness and helping and inspiring others.  Everyone has a unique and individual goal that has little if nothing to do with surpassing someone else.  It is a unique life lesson about cooperation that is hard to replicate in the real world.  But here is a place where tenderness and ache is almost a constant in the physical, for each who had the courage to step up to the starting line.  Nothing is to be gained by increasing the suffering of others.  Ultimately it is by helping others that perhaps one is then truly able to help oneself.

cimg228963 year old Mike Brooks, a retired fireman from Danville Maine is a perfect example of selfless service.  He ran his first multi day race here in 2006 to help raise funds for a terminally ill children’s camp, called Camp Sunshine,  he supports back in Maine.  He did the 6 day race at the time because he had just turned 60 and decided his goal should be to raise $6000 and complete 300 miles, both of these goals he was able to accomplish.

p1020803He tells me that he never even started running until he turned 50.  He quickly turned to the longer races because he saw that in those events he could excel.  Of the race in 2006, he says, “they were the best volunteers I have ever seen.” This race for Mike will be his biggest challenge yet.  He wants to complete 500 miles and in so doing raise $10,000.  The motivation for him is that he knows that every lap he completes he is earning more money for sick children.

p1020802Mike says of his past, “I was a two pack a day smoker and weighed 235 pounds.  The guys who know me back then can’t believe what I have become.”  He refers of course to being a disciplined and dedicated distance runner who still hopes to compete in the Badwater race when he reaches the age of 70.  He tells me, “I get satisfaction of reaching new goals every day and meeting new people.”

He says that when he received his trophy 3 years ago from Sri Chinmoy, he told him at the time it was a great thing that he was doing by raising money for children.  Mike says, “that meant a lot to me.”

Mike ran 77 miles his first day

p1020847p1020846Pradeep Hoogakker  from the Netherlands has 140 miles and Luis Rios from Brooklyn NY 149.

Vladimir Razumovsky from Russia has 154 and is in 7th place and Andrey Andreyev from Russia has 147.

p1020849Bigalita’s presence in this race, with absolutely no multi day experience is almost incomprehesnsible.  If one were to factor in her age, which she certainly does not look, 68, than you would have to come to the inevitable conclusion that what she is attempting here is impossible.  If you thought that of course you would be wrong.  Very wrong indeed.  As she strides into her 3rd day on the course she looks great and she tells me confidently that she feels great.  Her current goal is to do just 5 more miles so that she can reach 100 miles and then take a break.  It will be a short break.

p1020832“I have run, probably 70 marathons,” she says casually.  She had read about the experiences of many who have done this race and she says this inspired her a lot.  She felt that the intensity of the experience gained by running the 10 day race would help her spiritually.  She says that coming from her home in Los Angeles to this place will, “make me put one foot in front of the other.  Be surrounded by nature and think of nothing about Gop1020848d and nothing else.”

I ask her what it was like when she was standing at the starting line 2 days ago and she says, “I was crying, crying with joy.  It was very beautiful.  It felt good.”  When I ask her what her goals will be over the coming days she says, “For others who have done this race before it is harder, because they want to self transcend.  My job is much simpler.  I just need to be happy and to finish.”

cimg2303“I feel this job is important because for each runner, each mile is a flower from their heart, and when I put up a new number I feel happy.”  Yaroslava is helping with the scoreboard for the first time.  She is focusing hard on her job because at this time of day the runners are coming by quite often and she knows it inspires the them to see their totals grow with each lap.

p1020834You can sense the dedication she is putting into her job as she pulls each of the Velcroed numbers off the large score board and adds a new one to an ever increasing total number.  She knows how hard each runner is working to make their total change, so she is pleased to be part of it.

The sun will be setting soon and she will continue on doing this for several hours more.  When her shift ends, someone else will take her place, and tomorrow she will come out and do it all again.  She says, “Each day I feel something new inside me.  Each day I feel self transcendence.”

It’s Not Over Till Its Over

p1020773I arrive at the race this evening and hear some shocking news.  Madhupran is talking with Dipali who is still a few days away from starting her race.  He says, “My race is over.”  He points to his knee and indicates that there is a problem there. What makes this news even more surprising is that through his first 24 hours he had run 136 miles.  It was a pace that could easily have pushed him comfortably towards his goal of 1000 miles in 10 days.  Since that time however he has done just an additional 9 miles.

p1020731For a man who has just had such a dramatic turn of events occur, Madhupran appears amazingly calm.  I think it prudent to not to ask too much at this time.  Later I will see him back on the course and walking instead of running.

“I wasn’t thinking of the race at all, and I mean at all.”  Tirtha is laughing as she tells me this.  This is her second time at this 10 day race and she amazed everyone last year when she came and ran the, never having run further than 24 hours prior to it.  Ultimately she ran extremely well last year and completed 503 miles.

When I first ran up to her she said “Are you surprised to see me?”  Of course I am not surprised at all to see her because when I watched her last year, her focus and self disciipline during the race were amazing.  She appeared to be someone who was ultimately suited to this kind of event.

She tells me that it wasn’t until January when 2 of the race directors approached her that she really considered whether or not she would run again.  They expressed to her how beautiful it was to have her.  Her reply at the time, “forget it, you don’t know the pain.”  Yet as we continue on around the course she shares with me the beauty of her experience that occurred in the 2 weeks after the race.  “There was a deep inner happiness,” she says, “and peace and bliss.  It was unbelievable.”

She says it was not the experience of the race that most moved her but what occurred after and says that because of the profound experience she understood fully why people would challenge themselves with multi day running.  She was not able to train as much as she would have liked during the winter because road conditions were too icy to train properly in Munich.  But in March she was able to do a 6 hour training run and this gave her confidence.p1020738

At the start yesterday she says that she was not nervous at all.  “I was so secure about everything.  Everything felt smooth, right, easy.”  Last year of course was a much different story she adds.  I ask her if she has any goals she would like to achieve.  She says, “you always have to have a goal.”  Tirtha mentions talking with Suprabha who has competed in the 3100 mile race for the past 12 years.  She said that suprabha was surprised that the runners did not run at least 60 miles a day.  This inspired Tirtha a lot and seemed to make sense since the 3100 mile runners do this regularly and have to stop running over night.  So I say to her, “this must mean 600 miles is your goal.”  She smiles and nods yes.  We have at last come up to the little hut in which Sri Chinmoy used to sit when he came to the race.  She grows silent and looks in that direction.  She touches her heart and runs off.

p1020753p1020755“It’s great, it’s a new experience for me.”  Muslim is standing in front of the counting hut and calling out names of the runners as they approach.  It is one of the many jobs that is so crucial to making sure the event goes smoothly.  He tells me that the longest race he had ever worked on prior to this is a 24 hour race back in his home town of Aukland New Zealand.  He says, “It is really amazing being around people who are really pushing themselves and trying to transcend.  It really reflects on Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of never giving up and self-transcendence.  He adds that he is so inspired he just might one day try and run it himself.

p1020784Kaneenika has had a good first day, she has run over 100 miles.   She leads the other women runners by more than 10 miles.  She tells me, “I trained as much as I could and I have done everything that I thought would help me in the race.  We will see if I have done the right thing.  I have been preparing almost the whole year.”

She holds 3 Slovakian national records.

700 miles for 10 days

424 miles for 6 days

1000 miles in 15 days 10 hours

p1020748“It was very hard conditions for me.”  Arun Bhardwaj is a 40 year old runner from New Delhi India and he is telling me the shock he experienced when he came and ran the 6 day race in 2003.  How leaving India and 42C weather and arriving just a few hours before the start of the race and having to adjust to 4C New York climate.

p1020746He tells me that in India there are no ultra distance runners.  He felt that by running in very challenging races he would inspire his children to become world class runners.  He says, “I do it so that they will have some icon for them.  I think it is good that there own father is an example for them.  This is the reason I am doing these ultra distance runs.”

cimg2273In the race in 2003 he became the first Indian to complete more than 500km in a race.  I asked him why he would come here for such an event when there must be races closer to his home in India.  He says, ” I heard that the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team puts on the best races in the world, and I saw that also when I came here last time.”

He also was able to meet with Sri Chinmoy and says, “If you have a good heart you can understand him.  He was doing great deeds for human kind.  He says of this years race, which is 4 days longer than he has ever done before, “this is my race, I can do this.”


cimg2281cimg2280“The organization is perfect,”  says Daniella Miliev who is translating for her dad Radi.  She has come t0 help her father run the 10 day race and both Father and Daughter seem to be having a great time.  Radi is 60 years old and has run nearly 20 multi day races and this is his first time running in a Sri Chinmoy Marathon team event.

Before he leaves to go back on the course he proudly points to a badge on his shirt that says 1200km.  Daniella explains that her Dad completed this recently in a non stop cycling event.  He is currently in 3r place with 103 miles.

p1020732p1020735The dugout is a place for brief and necessary breaks.  Tirtha is getting some help with her shins.

Pratishruti is 65 and comes from Smolensk Russia.  She has completed more than 80 miles.

Thomas is from Hungary and has run this race himself 7 times.  He is a new position this time because he is helping instead of running.  He has taken on the task of being in Medical and massaging runners.  He enjoys the atmosphere here and being able to help the race run smoothly.  He tells me, “it is hard to go home, to leave everything behind.”  He tells me that it inspires him to help the runners because they see in him someone who can really help him through their difficulties.  This gives him strength and inspiration in turn.  “Their belief in me makes me happy,” he says.  Already today he has worked on 5 runners.

p1020758He describes how all the runners get a better consciousness by participating and that all who help can experience this as well.  He says, “I am part of this race too.”

p1020774p1020782Iris, from Christchurch NZ is running her second multi day race.  She has never run further than 248 miles and has already completed 60 here.

Pradeep is from the Netherlands and ran 481 miles here last year.  He has run 86 miles so far.

p1020786Yogi Beara, an iconic figure in American sports, once said, “It’s not over till its over.”   All the time I am at the race Madhupran continues to move.  He is walking swiftly and determindly.  I cannot help but wonder what will happen with him in the days to follow.

p1020781Give up giving up!

Study regularly and devotedly

The divine course that is offered

By your heart’s soul-light.

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 104 by Sri Chinmoy.

First Steps on a Long Road

cimg2194At precisely noon today a little temporary Universe sprang joyously to life.  For all intent and purpose it appears pecariously perched on the edge of a damp park in New York city.  Its life span will last not much longer than a rose but in the brief time the Self-Transcendence race goes on in Flushing Meadow miracles will be taking place in every mile run and for some perhaps, in every moment.


The scoreboard begins to reveal the truths that cannot be kept secret.  To either frighten or inspire it speaks in the blunt language of math.  The heart’s stories are not writ upon it.

46 runners started today in the 10 day race and the number who have made it all possible is extremely difficult to count.  Even more will ensure that those will make their 10 day journey here are kept safe, well fed, and that they have no diversions in front of them along the long road in front of them.

cimg2214Madhupran Schwerk wears number one and for good reason.  The afternoon is just beginning to slip away and already the margin between himself and the next runner is expanding rapidly.  He is running smooth and fast and he appears to be on a mission.  In his previous visits to this race he has told me that he was inspired to come because of a significant experience.  He says, “It is the first time I have come here without having a dream or vision.  I have come only for my own self.”

cimg2221Last year his wife had told him not to run competitively and he was inspired nonetheless instead to run hard.  The weather turned hard, cold, and wet against him.  Yet ultimately he found a new purpose in his running in the later stages and ended with not a new record but instead a great transformative experience.  This year her message to Madhupran was quite different.  She asked him instead to please make it his last multi day race.

He tells me that in this race his goal is simple, he says “10 days 1,000 miles.  The only race I can do it is here.”  We are running together at a pace that seems almost effortless to him.  I find myself concentrating hard to keep up with him.  My questions sound labored while he moves as light as a breeze.  He says that at the start a few hours earlier he felt nothing but joy to be able to set off.  He hopes the weather will be his friend.

cimg2190cimg2191The running conditions are almost ideal.  The overcast skies will keep temperatures from getting cold over the long evening ahead.  There is no rain forecast and the equally nasty face of nature, the wind, appears not to be a factor.  Nearly all have run at least 20 miles since noon.  There are yet to be any aches or pains and the road now is realatively dry.


cimg2253cimg2254Of course the crew has worked long and hard to not only pump dry the course but also put the finishing touches to the village itself.  The crew chief Bipin takes a little break by demonstrating hammer spinning.



cimg2193cimg2202The helpers who work behind the scenes cannot ever get enough credit for their tireless efforts.  Their journeys are not as obvious as taking one mile laps on the course but still what they do helps so much and in so many ways the lives of the runners.



p10206711cimg22071Yesterday Fred Davis was just setting up his tent.  He and his wife Flo had come to New York from Cleveland.  It is Fred’s 3rd time at this race but the 1st for Flo.  She tells me that he has brought her this time to keep him awake.  She says, “If he keeps running by the 24th hour he is in a groove.” She says that when he came back from the race last year he had been disappointed at the time he spent sleeping and that if he hadn’t slept so much he could have run more miles.

I ask her impression of the little community that has sprung up and she says, “Its an awesome city.”  Their collective goal over the next 10 days is 600 miles.



cimg22601There are of course many familiar faces who have returned here.  Luis Rios has run many of the Sri Chinmoy events and completed 511 miles here last year.









cimg2229cimg2210Radi Milev is here for the first time.




Ivana Nemcova from the Czech Republic came in second amongst the women with 634 miles.  A personal best.




p10206721Yesterday I noticed some new faces.  They belonged to Brian Marshall and his wife Brenda who had come all the way from South Africa.  He had heard about the event from some friends who had been here a few years ago and says, “I always wanted to do this event.  It was time to do a 10 day.”  He has never gone 10 days before in a multi day event.

cimg2258He is walking very smooth and quickly as we move along the course.  He tells me that he cannot run anymore  but that he was always a good walker and is finding now that he can cover more distance in walking then he ever could as a runner.

I ask him if his wife has come as his helper and he says, “you don’t need help here, this event is so well organized. I ask him what it felt like to be at the starting line earlier in the day and he says, “I was all nerves.  My wife tells me that before the race I am all aches and pains but as soon as the gun goes off I am all fine.”

cimg2268He also mentions that he has been noticing all the spring buds on the trees in the park.  When he and Brenda left South Africa it was fall and leaves were falling there.  He says, ” before I go home all these buds will be leaves.”  This makes him smile.



Klaus Schultz is 68 years old from Berlin Germany.







The road is long,

Very long.

My mind, delay not!

Follow my heart.

Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 13 by Sri Chinmoy.



The Night Before Tomorrow



Last night was a wet nightmare, and no where can its misery be more profoundly felt than in the swampy confines of Flushing Meadow.  It is a place in which water is a constant factor but with the previous night consisting of a constant downpour much of the paths and roads are floaded.  Where most would simply head for higher ground the workers and runners preparing for the 6 and 10 day race think of it as just another day.

Bipin and his team have been in almost constant motion building a village that will come to full life tomorrow when the 10 day race starts.  I ask him if he is on schedule and he replies, “there is always work to do.  Let’s put it this way when tomorrow comes we won’t be sitting around drinking tea.”



Dipali had set up her tent yesterday and has arrived a short while ago to an unpleasant surprise.  It rained so much that the covers over most tents have collapsed and all the contents of her tent were soaked.

Instead of being frustrated she seems amused at natures little trick.  It will take her several hours to dry everything off and put it back straight. Her race does not start until Sunday.


Padyatra and Rasto from Slovakia will run tomorrow and they are pleased to have missed the bad weather.  They have a prime location for their tent and are enjoying their precious free time before the real work starts tomorrow.


Kaneenika’s tent was next to Dipali and was also caught up in last night’s deluge.  Kanala who is helping told me I should have been there earlier to see the 5 star hotel room with its own pool.  The sun has come out bright and everyone seems thrilled that the weather has turned for the better and the weeks and months of training will soon be put to the test.


Bigalita has told me that she has been forced to abandon her tent and head for the safe confines of the dormitories.  She has not made her back to this race in Queens for many years.  She has hinted that a strong inspiration has drawn her back to this race.



Rupantar who is the race director is a whirl of activity.  I am here for just a few hours but he has been here for days.  When the race starts he will be the one who shepards the race through the long night hours.  Never complaining.  Always cheerful, and always more concerned about the runners more than himself.



There are many who have spent long hours bringing the little village into shape.  Nick from New Zealand has been a regular contributor for many years.  He seems to know how to fix and build just about anything.



Ed from Bristol has volunteered for the first time this year.  He is an artist and finds music and amusement in his work.

There are just so many jobs and things that need to be done it seems miraculous in so many ways that it all will eventually work.  On time and with almost flawless perfection.




The course however appears at this moment to be more lagoon than path.  At least the lower portion in which water seem to constantly spill off from the nearby Grand Central parkway and mysterious springs which seem to always trickle.

Pranab has been placed in charge of three pumps in various states of efficiency.  The flood will be staunched and the race will start at noon without the soggy conditions now present.


The ducks of course might object to this renovation of the watery paradise



In just a few hours from now these quiet scenes will be replaced with people and things and energy and just the extraordinary pulse of life which is the incomparable 6 and 10 day race.


The banner has yet to be stretched taut and firm across the path but the welcome mat of sorts has been laid.  Some of the 46 starters have arrived and moved in but all of them will eventually be here and whether nervous or joyous at noon tomorrow their long journey will commence.