August 13 This Time is Special

sup“This time is special,” Suprabha says as she talks about her experience here this year in the 3100 mile race.  For anyone who has had the opportunity to observe Suprabha running day in day out, they would have to profoundly agree with her direct and simple assessment of her race this year.  Just 15 days ago it appeared that it would be impossible for her to continue.  One of the doctors who examined her at that time, Dr. Mitch Proffman says, “she was in excruciating pain, she couldn’t even step down.  She couldn’t even move her hip.  It is truly a miraculous recovery.  She is an inspiration to everybody.”

The mantle of heroine doesn’t fit too well upon Suprabha’s slight frame.  In a supermarket line or even out here at the 3100, as the only woman running with much younger men, after a quick assessment of her, one would probably be hard pressed to easily identify her as an exceptional athlete.  She certainly does not outwardly resemble someone who has the distinction of being, as Sahishnu called her, “the greatest super long distance runner in history.”  What defines this petite champion is not her outer strength and speed but her absolute inner dedication to this race created by Sri Chinmoy 13 years ago.  Yet even if the world does not celebrate her astounding list of achievements her incomparable distance records clearly demonstrate by themselves how incredible an athlete she really is.

s30The vocabulary of language is in so many ways inadequate to catalogue or even properly comprehend her accomplishments.  After so many years and miles of constant running competition, descriptive adjectives have long since failed to keep pace with her as she just keeps going and going on.  Suprabha tells me that once a friend came to her earlier in the summer and related to her that she had been listening to some old tapes in which her late spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy is speaking about her.  He said several times how miraculous it was that Suprabha ran this race.  Yet now she has done it again for a record setting 13th time.

If one has any belief, or just simply accepts, that heart power is far superior and more significant than the power of the mind or the body then what Suprabha has done, not just this year, but throughout her ultra-distance career becomes abundantly clear.  It would seem that it is in her receptivity and her inner spiritual connection, that she finds her apparently limitless strength and enthusiasm.  What would crumble most people to the ground, she simply accepts, not as adversity but as inspiration to reach higher and dig deeper.  All of course part and parcel of her spiritual teacher’s philosophy on life.  She says, “it has taken me until this year to really understand what Sri Chinmoy gave us in this race.”


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August 8 Never Too Much Inspiration

a 15 good“It is always good when people try and inspire you.”  Ananda-Lahari is evidence of one who seems to have inspiration as a constant companion in his life.  He had walked a lap with another runner very early this morning who had been trying to encourage him on this his last day at the race.  He continues, “there is no end to inspiration, you can have more and more inspiration. We think we have enough inspiration and 2 years later and we look back and think.  O this inspiration now is so much more than then.”

“Now we think that we know but it is actually that we know a21nothing.”  One thing that is crystal clear and has no philosophical overtones is that this afternoon, after Ananda-Lahari completes another 42 miles he will have finished his 5th 3100 mile Self-Transcendence race.

In the great scheme of things it will not be his fastest race but it will still nonetheless be 6 hours faster than his effort last year.  Sahishnu will say at the award ceremony, “5 times is no joke.  That is 15,500 miles.  You have tremendous capacity. You can do 70 miles on any given day.  If it is God’s grace you will come back and transcend yourself even more, not by hours but by days and days.  We all see your capacity.  We all know your smile and your heart, but now you have to show the world that you are great as well as good.”

by Bhashwar August 1981
by Bhashwar August 1981

Inspiration is the first step. The second and final step towards God-realisation is aspiration. He who has no inspiration is no better than a dead man. He who has inspiration, soulful inspiration, is constantly running towards and crying for the Beyond.

Excerpt from Rainbow-Flowers, Part 1 by Sri Chinmoy.

August 7 Like a Dream

pmedIt is a sweet still morning, odd perhaps for a friday, when the world around us usually gathers itself for the final noisy chaotic rush of the week.  The sky is bright and glowing and the day will not get hot.  It is a day that is swelling with beauty and promise.  It is also the day that Pavol has dreamt about and struggled long and hard to achieve.

It is just a perfect morning to be wide awake.  Yet the first words he speaks today are, “It is like a dream.”  But this is a real and perfect dream for Pavol.  Today he will at last reach his goal.

p6On day 56 of last years race Pavol found a generous portion of solace for his mind but in his heart he felt he had not achieved his true victory.  He managed to complete 2700 miles on the penultimate day of the 3100 mile race.  It was a terrific performance considering how hard he had to work to get it but he had come to complete the full distance, not 2700, so it was a bitter sweet victory after 56 days of struggle.

On this bright morning he steps forward from the line with just 49 miles ahead of him.  There will still be a hint of brightness left in the sky when he crosses the finish line in the early evening.  He is not dreaming or sleeping in any way today. As he run he looks as though he is savoring each step. He does not look like one that he has spent 111 days here over two years going around and around thousands of times.

He is all too awake and alive and grateful to be here.  He is doing what his heart has asked of him. Tomorrow when he rises early and does not come back to the course, perhaps that will be a real dream.

SCAN0104This picture was taken by Alakananda at Asprihanal’s finish in 2007. Today is her birthday and she has offered this picture to all who have come to the race this morning.   For both herself and her Dad this picture represents their spiritual teacher’s love and affection for this race.  Sutisheel says, that you can see in this picture that he is asking her to take it.  So today she is giving it away.

On May 4th, his birthday, Stutisheel also gave it away and included the following aphorism.

I love the Supreme because I came from Him. I devote myself to the Supreme because I wish to go back to Him. I surrender myself to the Supreme because He lives in me and I in Him.

Excerpt from Service-Boat And Love-Boatman, Part 2 by Sri Chinmoy.

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August 6 This is What I am Supposed to Do

a37Ananda-Lahari tells me this morning, his 54th day on the course, that he walked all day yesterday.  I ask him if the reason he walked was due to lack of inspiration or due to lack of energy.  He answers quickly.  “Inspiration I have always.”

He is here at the race for the 5th straight year.  Over the years he has been much much faster and slower than he will be this year.  He has a personal best of 49 days and 14 hours.  It is a time that is almost 7 days faster than his current pace.  This year he is likely to finish on the 56th day, a slightly quicker time than he did here last year.

ananHe is one of those very rare individuals in which the outer results seem to be secondary in importance to the inner achievement.  It is something that most of us like to strive for but so often fall into the obvious trap of wanting to see the results of our efforts all line up in our favor.  It is simple human nature to set goals and try to achieve them.  Ananda-Lahari is someone who is not oblivious about wanting to surpass his previous achievements, but more significantly, he wants to be satisfied and content within himself all along the way.  There is an outer goal he has worked hard to achieve here, but there is for him an inner goal that cannot be reached with footsteps alone.  It is reached with joy, positiveness, and prayer.    As he says, “I believe there is nobody here who is not trying to do their best.”

by Shraddha September 1981
by Shraddha September 1981

Keep trying!

It so often happens

That the last key opens the door.

Likewise, it is your last prayer

That may grant you salvation,

And your last meditation

That may grant you realisation.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 17 by Sri Chinmoy.

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August 5 Go Forward

p10Today Pavol is wearing a T shirt that says, ‘Go Forward.’  It is written in the gently flowing handwriting of his late spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.  The letters are a bright bold red and around it are a collection of four of his bird drawings in soft blue.

On this, his 53rd day on the course, Pavol is just 161 miles from completing his journey.  Just like Pushkar, his race in many ways began one year ago when he entered the 3100 for the first time in 2008.

His race last year was an epic struggle almost from the beginning.  An injury prevented him from ever really being able to run.  He courageously stayed on the course however for 56 days, at which time he reached 2700 miles and was obliged to stop, 400 miles short of his goal.  On the following day Suprabha finished her 3100 miles and the race was officially over.

5 days ago Pavol crossed a self-transcendence threshold that has weighed upon him for the past year.  Late friday afternoon he past the 2700 mpavol goodile mark and then just kept going without a pause.  Knowing full well that not only was each step, one step further than he had ever gone in a race before, but also that his goal was now most certainly and assuredly fast approaching.    It now appears that on Friday, sometime in the evening of his 55th day on the course he will complete running the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.

From time to time Pavol has written some short poems about his experience here.  Today his poem is:

No Mind

No Form

No Break

I am only running.


If your heart has climbing aspiration,

Then you cannot go backward.

You can only go forward.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 84 by Sri Chinmoy.

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August 4 Proud of You

d at startDiganta starts his final day at the 3100 with just 51 miles to go.  For this young man from Austria, who is just 29, it will be his 4th finish of the worlds longest race.

When he arrived this morning he showed not a hint of excitement or anticipation, it appeared for all intents and purposes like just another day at the office. Not one he has been working so hard to reach for the past 51 plus days.

In his first few laps of the day he moves slowly and easily.  He says it will not be until he has 10 miles to go that, “I will have the feeling that it is really going to end.” For now he says it is just like any other day.  The major difference today being he says,”except that it is very quiet, because most of the people have finished,” and with this remark  he laughs.

He has received lots of encouraging messages from friends and family back home in Austria and from Italy where he lived much of the past year.  He tells me with real amusement about a fax he received from his two brothers.  One wrote simply, ‘greetings,’ and the other wrote, ‘Who ever runs the fastest finishes first.” He finds this amusing and I ask him if he thinks people understand what he is really doing here and has done over 4 summers and he says, “I don’t think so.”

A few days ago, a story was printed in the New York Times, written by a journalist who was describing what it was like standing in one gallery of the Louvre for two hours.  He just wanted to observe how the visitors reacted to the display of magnificent artworks that were notable, but were certainly not as prestigious as, lets say, the Mona Lisa.

dHe realized that most people moved quickly through the gallery rarely even pausing for even one minute in front of any of the priceless pieces of art.  If they did even stop, a precious amount of time was spent just looking at the label and not on the art. Some just snapped photos and moved swiftly through.  Perhaps trying to take in the whole museum in a single day.

Of course Diganta is not on display here at the race, nor are any of the runners who have finished their tasks or have yet to complete their journey.  He moves slowly so he can be easily seen, but our minds eye will never really catch the transcendent beauty and magnificence of what he or any of others have done here.

Later in the early evening at his finish Sahishnu will say of Diganta, “You are soulful, you are thoughtful, you care for all the other runners, you have always been an asset to the race, and you still know how to run.  People don’t realize that if you don’t run 41 or 42 days that you are not any good.  You run with such grace and poise, that Sri Chinmoy would be proud of you, and we are all proud of you.  Four times here, no joke.”

By Shraddha April 1979
By Shraddha April 1979

I tell you once and for all:

Simplify your life-pilgrimage.

God will be proud of you.

Intensify your heart-pilgrimage.

God will be proud of you.

Purify your mind-journey.

God will be proud of you.

Cancel your vital-journey.

God will be proud of you.

Expel your body-journey.

God will be proud of you.

Excerpt from The Wings Of Light, Part 18 by Sri Chinmoy.

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August 3 The Best Way to Proceed

s22For several days now there have been bits of grey tape stuck to the sidewalk on all 4 corners of the course.  Little arrows have been carefully drawn on them and they are placed a generous distance from the inside corner.  They were placed there just to remind Suprabha not to make tight turns.  She says, “If you do wide corners it is much better for your hips. Because if you do a sharp corner it is harder for your joints.”  It has been just 6 days since Suprabha was teetering on the edge of not being able to complete the race.  In that time she has adapted to a whole new strategy in how to do the race and it appears to be paying off.  She starts the day with 475 miles to go.  Which seems like a lot if you consider it will probably take her another 11 days to complete it.  Each day she now only walks and leaves the course early in the evening to help rest her painful hip.   But one has to consider as well, that after she crosses the line here this summer she will have run 43,000 miles on this block over 14 years.

s7She describes her original hip pain as one that slowly became more and more intolerable.  She says, “it was going on for a week before it got to the worst point. It was very hard for me to walk around the course.  To me that is pretty bad.  If you are in a race you just assume you can get around the course.”

s26Mitch the chiropractor, who came to see her at that time said that when he saw her at the course she could not even stand on one foot.  The pain was just too excruciating.  The next day x rays were taken and the evaluation given quickly.  There was no damage to the bones and what was impressively clear, there was also no evidence of arthritis.  Which was a surprise to the radiologist when told that the patient had been running for many years over thousands of miles.  The exact cause of her pain was only guessed to be a soft tissue problem.  One that could not be irrefutably seen without an MRI.  In the meantime another Doctor suggested specific stretching, and more rest.  She speculated that most likely Suprabha had some cartilage loss or damage.  Suprabha says, “we are really happy that nothing was cracked or broken.”

s6When asked if she had ever given up hope she looks puzzled at that question.  It is almost as though doubt or failure do not exist in her vocabulary or in her make up.  Her answer, “I was just trying to figure out the best way to proceed.”  She turns to her friend Savita and asks her the same question, “Did I loose hope?”  Savita responds with something unexpected.  She says, “I think it added spice to the race.”  They both laugh and Suprabha answers, “this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.”

Suprabha continues, “Over the years other people have gotten to go off to Doctors.  They took time off because they were sick.”  They are both laughing at this odd circumstance of having Suprabha for the first time ever leave a race due to injury.  Suprabha is content because the worst is clearly over and the goal is now less than 500 miles away. As for sorting out the most challenging experience of her running career and now seeing herself on track to make it to the goal, she says humbly, “It is very nice.”


“Not from darkness shall we proceed towards light,

but from light shall we proceed to more light,

to abundant light,

to infinite light.”

August 2 It Is Not My Victory

pushkarExactly one year and one day ago Pushkar Mullauer was forced to retire from the 3100 mile race.  After running for over 47 days he had covered an extraordinary number of miles, 2289. He had come however to that painful point in which it was clear that it was just going to be impossible for him to reach his goal.  He said at the time, “I  feel inwardly I did my best.  I did everything I knew.  I am happy. I will come back.”  Today his long journey will at last be over.  In less than 3 hours he will complete the final 16 miles and become the 7th finisher in this year’s race.

He is also wearing a red shirt today that is a replica of those of worn by the Swiss National soccer team who played so well in the World Cup in 2006.  He has never put this shirt on before and today he is wearing it in honour of his beloved country.  He says, “I am actually not a fan who buys a shirt of a football team, but that year was kind of special.  It was unbelievable oneness.  Everyone fought for the others.  No ego thing.  At that time I was living with a friend and he inspired me to print something on the back.  For me it was sure that I don’t write my name.  Then somehow I got the inspiration for Joy Guru and 27.”  It was in this way Pushkar felt that one day he would be able to honour both his late spiritual teacher and Switzerland at the same time.

picture courtesy of mahoney22

federer-winsSo he placed it in a special place waiting patiently for the exact right appropriate moment in which to wear it.  He says of last year, “unfortunately it stood untouched.  It also gave me encouragement just to see it.  Today it is not my victory.  For me it symbolizes oneness and victory.  The divine victory.”

On the list of great Swiss sports stars Pushkar probably does not even rank.  The whole world knows of the victories of Roger Federer who is said to be the greatest tennis player of all time.  Today Pushkar will set a mark for the 3100 mile race that none from his country has ever done before. The Swiss media will probably never even hear what he has done here in New York, but his friends back home in Zurich will surely celebrate his achievement.  And even though he is no longer physically present, the one whose name is upon the shirt, would surely be divinely proud of Pushkar as well.


The mind


The trophy.

The heart


The race.

Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 22 by Sri Chinmoy

August 1 An Opportunity to Make Progress

v startIf you do not run or have never run in competition then what takes place in this little corner of Queens will likely be foreign and totally incomprehensible to you.  If mysterious bits of your body hurt during exercise and the very thought of strenuous activity makes you exhausted, than really the notion of running 3100 miles will just not make any sense.  This is understandable.  There are lots of activities going on in this world of ours that nobody wants or needs to take interest in.

Yet if you have run a long race even once in your life something about this event will echo with familiarity.  You will have some innate understanding of what it is like to ask your physical to give more than it appears to have.  To view your fellow competitors as inspiration, so that you might draw upon the fragments of unwillingness and strength dormant within you that you might otherwise be reluctant to draw forth.

prAlso, you will identify with what it is like in those final fleeting moments, as you surge toward the finish line with every ounce of effort in your being.  That sweet feeling of release as you take one last final stride.  When you just let go of all the strain and all the pushing, and surrender to the certain realization that you have surmounted an inner and outer challenge.  You might even offer some gratitude that you have actually, for a time conquered the lethargy of the body and shown that it can be instead a dynamic and integral vehicle for your life energy.  Then you just might have a secret wish to do it again and try even harder.

s tart3 runners today will finish their long journeys here.  It is astonishing that just a few hours separates each of them after 48 long days.  The distance that separates them is just a grain of dust floating in a breeze compared to the gargantuan distance they have covered here, 3100 miles.  What is notable about them today is also how close they all are to each other.  The word, competitors, sounds so foreign to three comrades who have shared intimately a monumental undertaking that no one can really comprehend but they themselves, and the tiny fraternity of runners who have also done this.

What is clear is that there is a certain joy in crossing the finish line to applause and cheers and being able to say it is over at last.  Yet most of the 3100 mile runners would say that is not the sweetest part at all for them.  That more precious are those moments when they are alone on the course, with maybe weeks sill to go.  It is then that they experience the grateful realization that they are living their lives to the fullest.


God wants each and every

Opportunity of my life

To be a tremendous outer success

And inner progress.

Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 6 by Sri Chinmoy.

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July 31 Here I am Alive

rainMost will look back at this years race no doubt as the wet one.  The year in which the rain came heavily and it came lightly and it came in every descriptive form of precipitation in between.    It sprinkled and it pounded and then it would go away only to dart back with a soggy full throated roar. Today will be just like that.  The rain switching on and off so often you just might like to call the person holding the switch and ask them to please make up their mind.

If you had the luxury of just sitting and watching it might be amusing to see swirling rivers flowing past your feet and little Niagras tumbling off of van roofs. But not if you are trying to cobble together 60 soaking miles of puddles, with shoes and socks flooded nearly every step of the way.

It is the year in whichSnapshot 2009-07-31 20-00-30 at the start of the day one never had enough dry shirts,  dry socks and dry shorts.  When shoes became damp so often they never really dried.  Causing then, on dry days, a stew of musty odors to rise up and out of sport bags.  When one umbrella was not enough.   When if you were foolish and ever tempted the weather gods they would eventually find an opportunity to strike you with a merciless downpour on the far side of course leaving you many minutes away from the timid shelter of an awning covering your folding chair.

Yet they will also be able to say that it was the cool one.  The one in which there were no 90 degree days in July which has not happened in more than 100 years.  The average temperature for the month just a little over 71.  Maybe there was some meteorological bargain that was enacted on some distant plane that said simply, “We will keep it cool but your are going to have the wet instead.”

prstutvlad1Saturday will be something of historical note.  Sahishnu believes that never have 3 runners finished on the same day ever before.  Tomorrow which is day 49 will see Vlady, Pranjal, and Stutisheel finish their long journeys.

by Shraddha April 81
by Shraddha April 81

My mind

Is a homeless cloud.

My heart

Is a soundless sky.

My life

Is a goalless rain.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 22 by Sri Chinmoy.

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