“I take every day at a time.” Andrea is hesitant to confirm that he is having a great race. He once again had another 70 plus mile day which puts him in the stratosphere of running standards here at the 3100 mile race.
“I am doing my standard somehow. It is not extremely well but I am happy. I keep fighting to keep the 70 mile average and so far it’s been okay. Now lets see what happens.”
As for the times he established last year he knows he is close.
“Normally I put it in the background, and let nature takes it’s course.”
Andrea has a very expressive face. He says, “I think it is about my attitude.” Andrea believes he most often feels he is challenging the race as though it were a battleground.
“So I don’t smile so much. Many time people tell me I should smile more.”
“I take it as a duty somehow and I can’t say I enjoy it so far. Let’s see later on what happens.”
“I am competing not only with myself. I have this inner call somehow for self-transcendence.” Andrea confesses that at the beginning of the race that was not his intention. “I wanted to take it easy but when I learned I had the same pace as last year I realized I had to do the job.”
When asked why he sprints off the starting line, “I want to show myself that I am sharp. I am ready. I want to go all the way. I don’t want to lose time, to fool around. I take it seriously. That’s the reason why I sprint.”
“It is a very very special morning. This is the last morning of the race.”
Jayasalini describes how now, with just 41 miles to go, she wants to absorb every last drop of the experience she has had these past 51 days. “The fragrance of the course, the beauty of the course. To be grateful, grateful, for every morning. For every step. It is a very special morning.”
“I know that many many people are waiting for me back home. I got so many many experiences here, that I think that I definitely have changed, something changed inside me. First you receive, you absorb, than you want to share it.”
“To be honest it is beyond beyond my understanding, what is happening here. What’s I felt during the whole race, is that I need to be here for this very moment. I need to do what I have to do. This is taking one step after another, and be grateful for every step. I feel that this is what the Supreme wants me to do. To be here and to run, and to be grateful and to be happy.”
“To accept whatever comes, and just move forward. No matter what happens. Come what may. Just go on.”
“What is happening in the inner world, it is beyond my understanding.”
“The last couple of weeks were much slower. The 109 laps that you need to do in average in the beginning it seemed very very doable.” (Jayasalini did 104 yesterday) I was pretty constant. But now it feels like an Everest. The last couple of weeks I have averaged 105 laps. I was counting every night when I went home. I have a table on my wall. So I was more or less conscious of where I was. I tried not to worry at all. At some point I realized that the Supreme would take care of the mileage. I said to the Supreme that it was all up to you. I will just try and think of you. To be with you inwardly, all the time.”
“From that time I just stopped worrying. Of course sometime thoughts come. Deep inside I felt that whatever happens is the best. This is just an experience that the Supreme wants me to go through. I will just do it.”
“I admire every runner on the course. From every runner I feel something special, an energy or quality. The way that Sarah runs is really beyond my understanding. How was it possible for her to run so so fast and so strong. How is it possible to do this on your feet each day.” She describes her experience of just Sarah passing her on the course with such speed and power. “I don’t know how it was possible.”
“This is one of the questions that I still have no answer.”
“William is so so focused. All the time during the whole day. He can be looking just a few meters ahead. You can see that nothing else exists around him. Just he, himself, and running, moving forward so fast.”
“Nidhruvi’s experience I also admire her. I bow to her soul and to her determination. I ask myself many times. How I would feel if I had this experience. I don’t know if I could stay. To continue like she does. Still to be cheerful. Still to smile. That is amazing.”
“I feel that what is happening here can inspire many many people. William’s example yesterday, that he finished at his age. At 60, to run so fast. To do this is something beyond. This is an example that will inspire many many people of his generation. And also young people. I hope and I feel that more girls will want to come to this race. I feel it strongly.”
“For me to be here and do every step is to please the Supreme in his own way. This was my only goal.”
This Japanese Maple tree has observed the countless comings and goings of many people over the years. It has survived and flourished in a place that it is exposed to lots of activity. Directly in front of Thomas Edison High School.
It was planted in a small and simple ceremony on October 11th, 1975. As part of a celebration to mark Sri Chinmoy’s recent completion of 100, 000 Jharna Kala paintings. They would be followed of course by millions more.
Nearly 30 years have passed since then. The little tree now grown large, and despite all that has happened in and around and to it, it somehow still endures. In its own way offers the beauty of nature to all who would see it. And also still offers something deep and inner to all who can feel it.
Something divine may be
Beyond your need today,
But it can never remain
Beyond your need forever.
For every day
A new message from Heaven
Is touching the earth-shore.
How Sarah feels about completing the race. Which will happen in just a couple of hours.
“It is just absolute gratitude. A runner’s life is up and down. Success and failures and everything in between. I think especially after last year definitely I value it. But it is just such a team effort. Because nothing would happen without all the track workers and the race directors. Everyone who adds to the race in any capacity. So it is definitely that we are all traveling together. It is not just personal success.
Sarah as we are speaking is now just a few miles from the finish line. She has just 15 miles to go. She remarks how Pranjal finished the race just 2 days earlier and from the very first morning he never took a morning off. He does as he does now for 5 years without break, ran at least 2 miles.
“I think that is what it is just about. Doing what we love. So I am feeling a little guilty. Everyone is putting in this huge effort. We runners are just doing what we enjoy.”
“A few times during the race I felt, we are so eager to reach a certain result. But you know that old saying, about the journey being just as important as the destination. It is so true. Looking back at all the fantastic memories. Every day of the race has been just awesome.”
“Physically sometimes there is just nothing you can do. You just have to try and be happy. It happens to all of us sometimes. You have to surrender to a slow pace. That’s okay.”
“So many people have offered, not only material things, but encouragement. But this is what the world will be based on encouragement and not criticism.”
I ask her then what she feels the the Self-Transcendence race may mean to the world at large. “This has been one of the main things on my mind. With all the different conflicts going on now. There is not personally much we can do. I think this draws the world’s attention to something that offers hope. It is about the hope of human aspiration. It definitely does something.”
“If we keep focusing on the darkness and the conflicts. Things won’t really improve.” She appreciated all the media that in fact did come out to follow the story here.
“Just to see the race. You don’t really have to know very much about it. Just to know that it is going on I think it does something really special.”
I ask if she will come again. “If life circumstances allow it. I don’t know what the next year will hold for me.” I mention all the runners who regularly come back, “it is the main part of their spiritual life.”
“I have to be open to what life brings. Certainly, even now I am thinking about next year, and how to improve.” She then mentions the possible appearance of some of the big names who did not attend this year. “I think the energy is going to be amazing.”
I mention all the other girls who have attended this race and suggest that she must in some way be inspiring a whole generation of young girls that something like running 3100 miles is possible. “Well firstly I put Suprabha in a different class. She has done the race 13 times. Her whole life is amazing.”
“I think it is just time. Sometimes we just want things to happen. I wanted to try this race 7 or 8 years ago, but it was just not the right time. I hadn’t got the experience. I just needed to develop a bit more. It is a matter of enjoying your running and see where it takes you. And of course relying on the spiritual side. Keep praying to God. If he wants it for your life it will take place. But if he wants a higher goal, than being a good runner. He just might have more inspired plans for you.”
If at every moment we can feel that our highest Divinity is with us, in us and for us, and that we are with Him, in Him and for Him, then we are bound to create happiness and harmony in our own lives, in the lives of our family members and, eventually, in our world-family.
But we have to start with ourselves. First we have to dive deep within or fly high, higher, highest to discover our own highest Reality. Unless and until we have discovered our own highest Divinity and Reality, unless and until we have brought to the fore our own Inner Pilot, we will not be in a position to bring peace, harmony and bliss to our immediate family or to our world-family.
So let us pray and meditate to bring His divine Presence to the fore and let us be ready at every moment to listen to His Commands. If we can feel that our only task is to please Him in His own Way, then there is nothing that we cannot accomplish either for ourselves or for others.
“Maybe I have hidden from some of my spirituality. I think this race has allowed me the time to really focus on that and what it means. Maybe recognize that I am not the greatest force in the universe.”
Ray Krolewicz is unique in so many ways. He is a perfect example of how one should never judge a book by its cover. His somewhat grizzly exterior would on first appearance not give you much of a clue as to the kind, intelligent, charismatic, and generous individual who lurks beneath his now sun browned torso. One that has rarely seen a shirt in 50 days and certainly not come close to any sunblock either.
All of us have beautiful and positive qualities within us. Though sometimes the world and more regrettably we ourselves tend to forget this great truth. But it is these bright aspects of ourselves that we are trying to expand and develop. And it is the darker portions of ourselves, the not so user friendly qualities, that we either wish to cast off, or more likely, to radically transform.
What sets Ray apart from the others here is that he is the only one who was personally encouraged by Sri Chinmoy to come here and run this race one day. When the invitation was given, he immediately asked, should I come this year. Sri Chinmoy’s timeless reply was, you will know when the time is right.
We can never control any aspect of time but for Ray something deep and significant was set into his heart that day those words were spoken. A 59 year old school teacher from South Carolina, whose lifelong passion has been distance running this race of course would be the logical culmination of his achievements in the sport. But with his best days perhaps slipping ever so subtly into the past. Maybe it was just too big and impossible a thing to attempt. It could easily have been an invitation to be ignored, if not forgotten. But there again is the Ray Krolewicz who does not take words and promises and dedication to unachievable goals lightly.
He had fashioned his own unique relationship over 30 years with this Indian Spiritual Master living in Queens. Now, even though he had passed almost 7 years ago, something inside of him at last called out. Something he could not ignore, despite all logic that might dictate the complete folly of his quest to run 3100 miles. Because of the man Ray is he knew but one option. He had to come to run this impossible race because the time was most definitely at last perfect.
“I had 30 years when the message should have been perfectly clear. From the day he picked up that shirt ( at a race in 1984 when Sri Chinmoy picked up a shirt that Ray had thrown at a chair), till somewhere midpoint in this race. Dang, I had access to so much more. I have had opportunities. I have hidden from my own spirituality. That would be the culmination of that story that started 30 years ago. With this leader, this great man. This connection with the Supreme or God.”
“It finally all made sense somewhere when I was running around this block, and listening to people and sharing with people.”
“One of the most telling things about Yuri was after he had finished. He was running the opposite way around the block. He simply touched his heart as he went by. In one of my poems I comment about that. The poem ends. As you touch your heart it strengthens mine. That for me is the culmination of what I have learned. That as each person touches their own heart, it strengthens mine and strengthens all of us.”
A short film from 2006
My Beloved Supreme,
Is there any right time for me
To do the right thing?
Not even today!
“The right time for you
To do the right thing
At this very moment,
Here and nowhere else.”
Stutisheel completed the 3100 mile race for the 8th time today.
It is a statement that by itself tells quite a remarkable story about this extremely talented and dignified man from the Ukraine. For so few have even come close to accomplishing what he has just done. Stutisheel as a runner is as gifted, composed and patient as any who have spent their long summers running around a school in Queens.
But there is more, much more to this great runner who has had his daughter Alakananda as his helper nearly every time he has run here. And she of course has found her own victory in being the one to help and aid and console. Or do whatever it is that a 44 year old multi day runner needs in order to go on through those impossible 3100 miles.
This world that they share and inhabit so intimately together is as difficult and as challenging as just about any person has ever attempted to do. Yet they have found a way to conquer it, as they did again today. Because it is not just another race, it has been their joint home now for 10 long summers.
If we turn the clock back just a few years the story for Stutisheel here was a much different one than now. Now with its victory of completing the race in a new personal best of 48 days and 3 hours. A time nearly 9 hours faster than he has ever run this race before.
For in both 2011, and again in 2012 he could not find the right mix, or motivation, or magic, or whatever formula a runner needs to find their way to the finish line. It had to be heartbreaking to come up short those 2 years in a row. But Stutisheel did not show any sign of frustration or failure to the world. For it was a burden that he alone had to carry and find the solution to succeed.
So last year was an off year. He became an ironman triathlete, and maybe this as well was the cure for whatever it was that kept him from reaching the finish line. He says of those 2 years when the goal was not reached that he eventually learned a lesson. Something he believed was deep inside himself that he needed to do, and of course need not share with prying eyes. For we all have hard lessons to be learned in our own hearts. So today he and his daughter have reached out and climbed to a new glorious plateau, on this his 10th year, at the place they both call home.
If there is another secret that made it all turn out so well, he says, “I am surrounded by people who believe in me. This is so important in life. Starting from childhood, Alakananda supported me like anything. In all my crazy projects.”
He says there are many others and in particular points to one of the race directors Sahishnu. “Somewhere during the middle of the race he was on the phone with Alakananda and said, your Dad will do a personal best. You will see. The finish was so far but he believed in me.”
“I am really lucky to have friends who believe in me. It is very very important to me.”
“And of course finally I dedicate my personal best to the 50th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy arriving in the west. Who is the driving force and the source of everything.”
The winner of the race in 2006 who set the still record time of 41 days and 8 hours.
You will recover
Full confidence in yourself–Just feel once
That God will do everything for you.
You will discover
Full God-realisation in yourself–Just believe only once
That your source
Are always the same.
“I want to transcend myself, so I have to run a little bit faster.” He has just 23 miles to run on this his last day of the race. Vasu says he is doing this, because that is the name of the race, Self-Transcendence.
“If the Supreme wants he can do it through me, and if not, I will be happy.”
“I must run 10 laps to go and 4 hours to do it. It is not too easy.”
What Vasu has done over the past few days has been to run incredible mileage. Yesterday he ran 136 laps or 74 miles. Which is very similar to what he had done just 2 days earlier. What he has been demonstrating since day one is a complete dedication to the task of running 3100 miles.
One which is based not just on his incredible physical strength and will power but also on his heart’s devotion. A combination of qualities that when set in motion would appear unstoppable. Yet from the start this morning that very thing of bettering his time from last year is far from certain.
There are many inconceivable and imponderable mysteries of what this race creates in those who come and run in it and also who those who observe. As someone on the sidelines who has watched Vasu’s steady progress through the days and miles how could you not but want for him to succeed.
To shave at worst even a small fragment of time off his performance from last year. Most of us would love to see him and all the others smash their performance bests each year.
But the subtle and intangible rewards of running here are not so easily discerned. For there is a victory not just to Sarvagata who came in first and those like Vasu who will claim the 3rd chair behind him this morning. But to each and all there is a victory. Even if the finish line is never crossed and remains elusive and distant still hundreds of miles away, when the lights grow dim.
At a little before 1030 this morning Vasu crosses the finish line for the 3rd time. It took him 47 days, 4 hours, and 24 minutes. His time is 1 hour and 15 minutes better than last year.
I make a joke with Yuri this morning. He is running so fast and easy. So relaxed and comfortable it is almost as though he could not possibly have been here, doing this very hard thing for 46 straight days.
Where are you going? I ask.
“Inward to my heart. I am in a hurry to go deep inside to my heart. It is a good place and I feel very good there.”
“When I wake up I am like most people, I am in my mind. But when I start running, I dive deep within my heart and start running there. I am really happy there. It is a wonderful place.”
So You will never leave the course?
“I actually don’t want to stop. I felt such sorrow that I will have to stop today. I want to continue. It is such a beautiful place here. What I experience here I never felt before in my life. Nowhere.”
“Maybe this place is like a magnet. It is pulling runners more and more from all over the world.”
He had said that coming here was a bit like going to school. It was something that you progressed each year by attending.
“It is more than school. There are no limits. You can dive deeper and deeper inside your heart or it is like flying higher and higher in the sky. For me it is just that every time I come the experiences I have here are becoming deeper. It is like a very tall tree, and as you climb this tree. Your view of the horizon is continually expanding, and you can see farther.”
Last year, in his first race here you could say that is was not an easy experience compared to this time. He did manage to finish in 51 days and 4 hours. But what has happened to him this year maybe one of the most improved performances by any runner ever. His pace this year is such that when compared to last year he would have won the race with his predicted time today. He started the morning 256 miles ahead of last year. Nearly 4 days faster.
“Actually my results are not so important. The most important thing is the consciousness in which you are running. How you feel. This year I feel much better inwardly. I studied very seriously what Sri Chinmoy has said about this race. He did not speak about the runners outer results. For me the most important thing is not to be first but to be one with everyone here. To feel oneness.”
“Actually I feel that the most important thing is to share with everyone what you are experiencing through oneness.”
He describes this experience that he is having as something he knows that we all have within our own hearts as well. It is through running here that has awakened him to this.
“If I could I would just open my heart and give and show everyone what I feel and what I am. Because this is much better than any words.”
Click to Play Interview: (Translation by Anastasia)
Across the street Sri Chinmoy ran the 47 mile race on his birthday August 27th 2 times. The first time he ran in 1979 his time was 12:41:48. The following year on his second attempt, when this picture was taken he ran more than an hour faster. His time was 11:27:24.
My life’s only road:
My heart’s only road:
My soul’s only road:
Early this morning Nidhuvi came by me and spontaneously recited the daily Prayer.
of the the heart
Expedites the speed of the body
Guru Sri Chinmoy July 30th 2007
She told me it was going to be her motto for the rest of the day and continued on her way around the course. A little later I ask her how it was working for her. “If Sri Chinmoy wrote this then it must work.”
“The important thing is to always remind myself to stay in the heart. In my situation right now it is so hard to get out of the mind.” Nidhruvi now finds herself in the proverbial, stuck between a rock and a hard place scenario. She has just 7 days of running left and has to run an average nearly 62 miles a day during this time in order to make the final 432 miles. She has not been able to run even a 60 mile day now for more than a week.
She describes a mental battle that rages from time to time inside. Calculating laps and times and distances. Trying to somehow work out a magic formula, that at this strict sad point in the race the math just might not work. No matter what she does.
“I have been too much in the mind. So when I read this poem in the morning I thought, I must really focus totally on the heart. Because the outer miles do not matter any more. At this point. The most important thing is our inner progress and not what we reach outwardly. The Supreme sees that we are giving everything.”
The following clip shows the final few minutes of the first Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984. In the first minute Joan Benoit can be seen winning the race, but if you watch just a little longer you will also see the entrance of 39 year old Swiss runner Gabriella Andersen-Scheiss coming into the stadium.
Clearly suffering from heat stroke she makes her staggering way around the final lap of the track. An effort that will take her more than 5 long minutes and one in which she waves off any offers of assistance. Knowing that even a touch from a medical person or any assistance whatsoever would immediately disqualify her from the competition.
She will finish the race in a time of 2:48 which places her in 37th position overall. It is a time that would have been good enough to win the first 5 men’s Olympic marathons.
*After 2 hours of medical care she had recovered*
My Lord, I run and run and run and run
To make You happy.
“My Child, you are the smile of My Eye,
You are the beauty of My Heart
And you are the pride of My Life.”
It is a scene he can never grow tired of and of course neither can we. We who have watched his long odyssey unfold before us over these past 44 days and even longer. For it is a run that began in many ways 4 years earlier. One that can never be mistaken for as easy or that even reaching the finish line assured. No matter how hard you press and push to make it there.
But 41 year old Sarvagata from Berdansk Ukraine does make it look so effortless today. As he, with his sister at his side runs across the finish line in first place after 44 days, 6 hours, 58 minutes.
It is a victory as well made even sweeter with the knowledge that he has bettered his previous time by nearly 7 hours. A time which can either appear, depending on how you choose to view it, as either infinitesimal or grand.
For how do you compare measurements of time against a distance that lies almost beyond belief itself. Though somehow we are able to grasp some small measure of what he has done. Yet there is part within us all that understands and feels the bright promise that is above and beyond the numbers. That thing which gave strength to his steps and courage to his heart calls out to us as well.
Some of us have had the good fortune to see so much of the splendid performance that he offered to this hard bit of road and also to the world, who may not even notice. For what he has done here is not some thing he has achieved just for himself but it is also a gift that he freely offers to all. To everyone who is hungry for the light of perfection and thirsting for the nectar of transcendence.
If there was any unique or special reason for him to succeed so well this year Sarvagata gives full credit to his sister. “She was in every second of this race.” At this moment he takes of the wreath he has just been given and places places it upon her head.
“We all understand really from the very depths of our hearts. Today we celebrate not me, not this human being. But the one who is behind all that. You know who I am talking about.”
“Another personal best. Which is 69.996 miles per day. He now moves from 5th to 4th all time. This is the 8th fastest performance in the 18 year history of the race.”
“I am so proud of him because, he doesn’t talk a lot and he doesn’t interact with the other runners a lot. Because he is so focused, on playing the game. Of excepting whatever comes. He had such a great 10 day leading up to this. Six weeks before the race started. He ran 160 miles on the last 2 days. He moved up from 5th or 6th place to 2nd for the gentlemen and 3rd overall. It was a breakthrough for him he got well over 700 miles. So he became the favorite coming into this race.”
“He showed tremendous poise. Running some nights running 20 to 30 laps under 6 minutes. This after running thousands of miles at incredible speed. He was also pulling everybody else behind him too. There are going to be at least 4 or 5 personal bests in the top 7 or 8 finishers. It is exciting to see a great performance. From the Marathon team congratulations. You are the 2014 champion.”
“My first race was a new experience (2011) and I had this child attitude. Everything was interesting and exciting. So I was discovering limits and speed, and things like that. My second race was a little competitive. I was discovering new athletic sides to my character. In my third race I was mostly inside myself. Working it out and figuring out stuff. Somehow it has all combined.”
“In this race I think I still have this child attitude. To push limits. To discover what is beyond my present capacity. I think I have got a little drop of wisdom. How to accept my limitations and incapacities. To also understand that even if I have one it is a temporary thing. And actually it doesn’t depend on me. And the capacities as well. It all depends on the one who owns all that.”
“Also it was an interesting game.”
He describes how for the Supreme it must be boring at times if we don’t push and test what we have and who we really are. If we live a life that doesn’t explore and challenge and transcend then as spiritual people there is no way for the divine in us to appreciate his creation. “There is no game for him.”
He says that when we really test ourselves, “I feel it is a little more fun for him.”
He describes how it is not enough, at least for him, to remain complacent or take for granted anything about being part of the 3100. As a runner his first task is to aspire and strive here at the race at all times, and cheerfully accept whatever number of laps that you complete each day.
“Then when we achieve something we are playing with him in his his own game.”
I suggest that he means don’t take anything for granted.. “Yes, fight for that. It is okay. Compete it is fine.”
There are many extraordinary things about Sarvagata Ukrainskyi and what he has in fact achieved here over these past 43 days. Sometime tomorrow he will have completed the great journey and win the race by more than 100 miles. He has led the field here since day 5 and in the long interval since has not looked back or anywhere else for that matter other than towards the once distant finish line. When he indeed does cross the line tomorrow he will in his 4th attempt also set a new personal best. Likely moving as well from 5th to 4th place overall.
There is a tremendous irony in what he has achieved if not excelled at each summer he has come here to run. Throughout most of the year training is secondary to almost every other part of his busy and dedicated life. Where I suspect every other runner here has looked at the starting line with some trepidation and concern that they have not trained and prepared enough he does not.
Instead he has learned, and once again proves, that if he listens to his body and more importantly listens to the divine whispers of his heart he will endure and he will succeed.
There is no other runner I have ever seen here who has been able to accomplish so much by preparing so little. Yet he still knows that the race for him is not just about muscles and strength and determination. It is also about giving, and being happy and content to receive little or nothing in return.
That surrendering within is to not give up. It is to accept gratefully whatever experience every part of your being needs to have. And if there is something else that separates Sarvagata from all the other fine athletes who have been his family for the past 44 days is this unequivocal understanding. That tomorrow is just one more finish line to cross before reaching all the other timeless goals still ahead, leading to his perfection.
In 1973 a horse named Secretariat was attempting to complete the triple crown at Belmont race track. He was a favorite of course but what Secretariat did that day was something we don’t expect to see. He didn’t just run a great race he also ran into the record books and set a time that has yet to be surpassed.
The records in horse racing have not climbed as they have in human competition because Horses don’t look at records but only try to beat the horse who runs beside it.
In 1973 Secretariat ran with such speed and conviction that everyone who saw that race were thrilled and surprised. He won by 31 lengths
*Note: Jockey Ron Turcotte at no time during the race used his whip to encourage the horse to go faster.
“It was a hot day, but it was beautiful. He was the best ride you ever wanted to have. He is the greatest horse that ever lived, and he was so generous and gentle and did everything I asked of him. Whenever he was right, no horse could beat him.”*
Satisfaction is not only
At the finish line
At the starting line.