Perfection’s Address

It is decidedly an exclusive New York Address.  It is one in which there are many who would love to visit, but perhaps don’t have the very unique requirements to call it home.  A stay here is never permanent.  At the very best one can move in for just 10 days each spring.  For those who are brave enough to come and do their very best it will be no vacation, and certainly no metaphorical walk in the park.  To come and stay here in Flushing Meadow is to be part of the Self Transcendence 6 & 10 Race, an event so challenging and yet so fulfilling you will probably remember your stay here for the rest of your life.


For a week now, a construction crew led by Bipin, has been putting it all together.  The first race starts on Monday and the preparation, just to be able to say “Go.” at noon on that day is an incredible undertaking in and of itself.

To put it mildly, the weather has not been great.  For most construction crews this could mean lengthy delays but the clock never stops ticking here.  There is just too much to be done and so little precious time.

Continue reading “Perfection’s Address”

The Hardest Thing

bigalita-4We are all asked, at special moments in our lives, to reach deep within and to bring forth, something  more of ourselves.  We are continually journeying to new heights in life, whether they be just one step up or even to reach the top of our own personal Everest.

Our achievements may go unnoticed by the world at large but there is an innate awareness inside ourselves that always recognizes, that in all of our positive efforts, in each of our extraordinary acts of Self Transcendence, we are making ourselves better people.  There may be more to this as well.  Perhaps, in our self offering we are making this world of ours better as well.

pam-interviewAt noon today In Fushing Meadow Park 80 brave souls were able to sit and to rest for the first time in days.  On the superficial level the course of their lives was exactly the same.  They circled a weaving concrete path that ambulated here and there in and around Meadow lake.  Cars hurtling by on the Grand Central Parkway probably took little notice of the often scruffy characters parading along.  If the cars took the same course each day they may have begun to wonder at this spectacle repeating itself day in and day out.  When they drive by tomorrow it will be all long gone.

dipali-soulfulTheir journeys here are now over.  They will  rest and sleep more easily now.  The aches and pains accumulated over hundreds of miles of running will heal.  Some will be able to say with confidence that they have set new personal records in the world of multi day racing.   Two will be able to say much more.  Pam Reed will be able to say she has now achieved an American record.  Dipali Cunningham will be able to say she has achieved not only a new personal record but a world record as well.

Dipali tying the record

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bigalita-268 year old Bigalita Egger had made an improbable journey here.  No real distance running background at all really.  Unless of course you count the puny 26 miles distance of a marathon.  She will return to the certainly sunnier climes of Culver City CA and know that over 10 days she ran 357 miles.  A distance most people she will meet will not erajeshri-and-kushaliven begin to comprehend.  She will know all to well the price she paid but more importantly this transcendent achievement will  be able to speak volumes to her mind and heart for the rest of her days on earth.

Kushali 421 miles

Rageshri 244

radi-and-daniellaRadi Milev say, “there were very many good runners.”  This 60 year old from Bulgaria was of course himself one of the finest.  With 629 miles over 10 days he was just 4miles out of 3rd place.  Yuri Trostenyuk in third place is 45 years old.  His daughter Daniella has been helping him the entire time and if there was an award for constant cheerfulness she may well have been elgible for first prize.  He says, “He is waiting for next year so that he can come again.”

Radi Milev interview

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brian-marshallBrian Marshall 54 from Johannesburg South Africa walked his way into a new record.  With 436 miles he has traveled more than 86 miles further than he has before.  He is amazed at the many changes that have taken place on the course over the 10 days he was on it.  He says, “the whole season has changed.” His wife Brenda has been his biggest supporter during the race.  He tells me,” I came here with negativity and I am leaving with positivity.”

Brian Marshalll interview

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andrey-somovarunAndrey Somov 343 first multi day

Andrey Andreyev 555 35 miles better than last year

Arun Bhardwaj 418 miles

One in a Billion

dipali-and-haritaDipali’s last few laps were not without some drama.  She was helped by several girls but Harita Davies has been her main supporter.  When Dipali tied her record I spoke with Harita and she says that Dipali told her that this race was “the hardest thing she has ever done.”  As a student of spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy she found strength and inspiration in the example of his own life of Self Transcendence.

Harita interview

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joe-and-cherylpete-and-wife69 year old Joe Cleary will be able to go back to Georgetown Ontario with 228 miles.  Which is about half the distance to Buffalo. Cheryl is thinking of running a 24 hour race in the fall.

67 year old Pete Stringer Osterville Ma ran 318 miles.

darrensarahDarren Worts 38, running his first 6 day race won it with 420 miles.  It is an emotional time for Darren and his whole family.  His dad can only say, “it was amazing.”

Sarah Barnett ran 684 miles.

Sarah Interview

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klauskaneenika168 year old Klaus Schultz Berlin Germany ran 320 miles for 10 days.

klaus Interview

Kaneenika Janakova 38 Bratislava Slovakia won the 10 day women with a personal best of 707

mark-dorionmark-and-kidsMark Dorion 49 El Paso Texas ran 353 and had surprise arrival of his wife and kids inspire him over the last few days.

Mark Dorion interview

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elena-prateeshrutiigor-and-vladimirElena Sidorenkova in her first multi day ran 596 miles.   Pratishrutti Kisamoutdinova ran 482

Pratishruti & Elena interview

Vladimir Razumovsky ran 133 miles further than he has before…629     Igor Mudryk ran 179 miles further than he has before……..712

Igor & Vladimir interview

baridhiveacesiavVeaceslav Dodonu 33 Switzerland ran 253 miles in his first multi day

Veaceslav interview

Baridhi Yonchev 28 Bulgaria ran 276 miles in his first multi cay

Baridhi interview

andy-cablechanakhya-finishAndy Cable 43 Monroe Ct 262 miles. He says, “something more than running takes place here.”

Andy Cable interview

Chanakhya Jakovic 55 Jamaica NY, says,”he learned a lot and shared a lot.” Ran 270 miles

Chanakhya interview

michelmichel-and-tommyMichel Gouin 48, Drummondville Quebec ran 538 miles.  His support team was one of the finest.  It included his wife Chantelle and son Tommy who helped others all the time.

karnyatimike-brooksKarnayati Morison 62 Ottawa Canada ran 513 miles.

Mike Brooks raised $10,000 for Camp Sunshine by running 491 miles here.

misha-and-wife-lubatatjannaMykhaylo Ukrainskyl 36 Berdyansk Ukraine ran 540 miles 59 miles further than he has ever done.  His wife Luba helped not only him but the entire race by volunteering to cook.

Tatjana Jauk 38 Slovenia ran 470 miles.

vlastimilvidyutVlastimil Dvoracek 49 Nad Orlici Czech Republic ran 375 miles

Viddyut Balmer 28 San Francisco CA ran 324 miles.

canada-consulGeorges Boisse is a consul with the Canadian Consulate General.  He says seeing all the runners, ” I am carrying with me quite an experience, of courage and persisence.  Something I didn’t know existed.” His wife says, “What impresses me is their capacity to go beyond their limits. They are balanced and happy and share this happiness with us.”

George Boisse interview

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pam-trophyPam Reed says, “It is amazing what we can do. I couldn’t believe that we could still do that.  The name of the race is so appropriate”

Pam Reed interview


Tim Kourounis a distance great

Tim Kourounis interview

For those of us who watched this story unfold from near or from afar, we can never know the highs and lows and the experiences in between that took place in the bodies, minds, and hearts of these champions.  They each will come away with an undeniable experience of Self Transcendence.  It may be new numbers that can be seen clearly on paper and then again maybe it will not.    Within each, a new inner plateau has been scaled, from which they can look back and see that they have transformed some small part of themselves or even their entire beings.  This wonderful world we all share together has become better because of this.


There was a time when I stumbled and stumbled,

But now I only climb and climb beyond

And far beyond my Goal’s endless Beyond,

And yet my Captain commands: “Go on, go on!”

Excerpt from My Flute by Sri Chinmoy.

In a Blink It Will All Be Over

cimg2512It has been a place for celebration and a place to experience pain.  There is never enough sleep for anyone, and yet everyone begins to see sleep as an elusive friend who promises much and sometimes gives back much less than bargained for.  Perhaps all have wished at some time, in the dark of night to take a wrong turn on the course and just keep going until they hopefully found a place called home.  The miserly miles accumulate with such reluctance and at such a exorbitant cost one might logically think it  better to simply to stay in your sleeping bag and dream of a silent and sweet lonesome hilltop.

But there are silly thoughts that vanish almost before they spray carelessly from the mind and then there are heart dreams.  Powerful messages that push through the chaff and clutter of the mind and show the straight true path of life.  For 9 days for some and 5 days for the rest, the Self Transcendence race cimg2514has been their lives. A 24 hour a day reality that never ceases to surprise you and yet in the end inspires you to reach high and travel further than you have ever dreamed possible.

There has been heat and cold and now on this the last day of the adventure the rain pours down out of a black sky and no one knows when it will stop.

The thin plastic roof of the counting shack fills so quickly with water that it cascades down the front like a small river.



It rains so heavily in the late afternoon that most just stay dry in the dugout.  Radi, Pratishrhutti, and Elena.  The rain however proves to be a fickle mistress.  It relents but does not give up.


Dipali is running today with beauty and precision.  At noon today, with 24 hours to go, she learned that she was just 81 miles away from reaching her record.  On the surface it seems doable, and yet who knows what nature will decide to bequeath on this brave and hardy band as they head into the long night and then as the new day blossoms.

Pam Reed is also running well and continues to demonstrate her heart, courage, talent, and will to go on.  The gap between her and Dipali has shifted slowly wider like some tectonic plate beneath the earth.  The presence of the other has helped them both and in the months and years to come they will remember well the look and gait of the other which they saw so often over 6 long days of racing.

cimg2543Pam says, “Its been great.  Its been difficult and I didn’t quite know how to maneuver it.  I think I did what I could do.”  For Pam every step past 300 miles has been new territory.  Even how to juggle rest and the road have been new challenges that have not easily offered up solutions.  As the record of 510 has slipped inexoribly from reach she has found another goal to help push and inspire her through this last day and that is the American record of 487.  A distance that is now just 56 miles away.

cimg2542She says, “It is neat to see how far you can push yourself.”  There is also the reality that all multi day runners have to accept and face, which is, “You just have to keep going.”  She also had a unique experience happen to her yesterday that was completely unexpected.  She describes a moment in which she says she felt a sense of profound inner peace.  She describes it as though it was a meditative experience.  She says, “what it felt like is what I think his message is,” referring to Sri Chinmoy the inspiration for the Self Transcendence race.

She talks about pushing herself to new limits and yet at the same time being detached from the effort and instead enjoy a real sense of peace.  As she looks back at the last 6 days she says, “I guess I learned a lot.”

Pam Reed Interview

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cimg2526cimg2531A long weary experience for me,” says Machupran who saw his goals evolve and change at almost every step.  He now wants to simply finish tomorrow with the numbers 777 on the board.  Yet for this supremely talented athlete I would not be surprised at anything.  One goal which is unlikely to change is as he says, “to end the race with a smile on my face.”

Madhupran Interview

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p1030256p1030257Sarah Barnett says, “I am happy because I went beyond the last race I did. I am very grateful” Like most runners she envisioned some higher numbers but will still easily come away with a new personal record.  Being here with people who share her own love of running and wish to transcend means it is so easy to feel at home and enjoy the little vibrant community.  She is inspired by so many who have achieved new records.  She says, “I hope each race we try and go beyond.”

kaneenika“I have done 437 miles in the 6 day and I hope to do 700 miles by tomorrow.” Kaneenika has pushed past personal bests in almost every front.  She says, “I feel that if I go beyond my physical problems and concentrate more inside, I feel I can transcend myself.”  The distance between herself and her goal of 700 miles is just 47 miles right now.  Her inner goal she has no doubt already achieved.

photo by Jowan

kaneenika Interview

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cimg2523 Joe Cleary says, “I have rescheduled my thoughts and I am running 50 km a day which sounds okay to me.”  His goal of 300 miles has proved a little too ambitious for this 69 year old from Canada.  He has run more than double his previous total mileage and the experience is so positive he wants to come back.  He says about next years race, “I will be here.”

cimg2560His helper Cheryl says, “It is amazing watching all these people it really is inspiring. It makes you think you can do anything.”

Joe Cleary interview

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cimg2536p1030285Darren Worts has 379 miles and his folks survived the night in their car in the parking lot.

Roman Dzieriatka has 185 and will likely take in a baseball game tomorrow after the race is over.

petep1030309Pete Stringer has 279 miles.

A short while ago there was celebrating for Pati Libinova 44 Chelyabinsk Russia who just ran 300 miles in her first multi day race.

p1030254p1030317Nirbili File says, “the hot weather was no good.”  But nonetheless the experience for her and her husband Nick, “was extremely deeply satisfying.”

Nirbili File interview

Vlastimil Dvoracek 49, Czech Republic, says, “I came to have a good race and did better than I expected.”

Vlastimil Dvoracek interview

p1030251p1030244Pradeep Hoogakker 30 Den Haag Netherlands tells me that in the first few days of the race the experience is more superficial than in the later stages, where he says, “you can experience peace and timelessness.”  He is 34 miles from surpassing last years total of 481.

Pradeep interview

Michel Gouin says, “You have to be very strong mentally to run this kind of race.  You have to have an open mind.”  He currently has run 492 miles and hopes to surpass his total from last year of 541.

Michel Guoin interview

p1030281“The whole race I have been pain free,” says Tirtha Voelckner 37 Munich Germany.  When she came to this race last year for the first time the longest race she had previously entered was 24 hours.  In last years race she ran 503 miles and at this point late in the afternoon, with many hours to go, she is just a few miles from last years total.  She says about this years race, “I am very glad I came out again.”

p1030283She feels in this years race she has been relatively pain free by not worrying about the miles but instead, concentrating on each lap as it comes.  To live in the moment and more importantly, concentrate on her heart.

Tirtha interview

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p1030295I have been doing kitchen runs, keeping runners happy,” says Asankita who has come from New Zealand, the last few years, to work on the race from start to finish.  He says that for him there is a joy factor involved with helping the runners achieve their goals that brings him back each year.

Asankita interview

p1030275Visitors of all kinds come to the race.

Sushovita had her birthday party here with lots of cake and song.

p1030247 “10 days is really a very big journey. we cannot compare it to the 6 days.”  When he last came to this race in 2005 Arun Bhardwaj 40, India ran the 6 day race for the first time and ran 346 miles.  He says his experience here is a spiritual journey.

p1030246When he describes pain he looks upon it with a unique perspective.  He feels that nothing can compare to a Mother’s pain when she gives birth.  It is with this philosophy he feels he can endure much more.  He had hoped to achieve 500 miles in this race but has learned from the experience here that, “the mind does not work only the heart works.”

He feels that he also has a mission to accomplish.  He hopes his achievements can inspire and make more dynamic his fellow Indians and the country as a whole.  One of his fellow runners called Arun, “One in a Billion.”

Arun interview

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p1030239“It is the best organized event I have ever been to.”  Brian Marshall is tired going into his 10th, and last day of the race, but seems very pleased with the 415 miles he has achieved walking the whole way.  “Its been great,” he says.  He relates to me a message he received from a friend of his in South Africa.  His friend said to him, “Don’t mess around cause you are going to blink and it will be all over.”p1030234

Brian Marshall interview

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By no means does selftranscendence

Mean an impossible task,

And possibility can and must reach


Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 13 by Sri Chinmoy.

It’s Not Just About Running

p1030080I have come back to the race, and in my absence, time has marched inexorably and steadily on its course.  It is well past midnight and time is marking its way into the darkest depths of the lonesome night.  I park the car under the fluorescent lights in the parking lot and everything is now lit with the stingy glow of the meager street lights.  But mostly I am aware of the heavy solemn darkness.   It fills the wide expanse of the park at this time of night and seems as though it wants to crush all the charm and brilliance of a day that was so joyous and hopeful, just a few hours ago. The only obvious blessing is that the heat of the afternoon is but a memory.  The night air is cool and fresh.

p1030155Nothing moves except the dim shapes of a few runners who merge in and out of the tiny pools of pale illumination. It is a stark contrast to an afternoon that was inflamed by a fat hot sun.  There was such an audacious glow and brightness to the day that one almost had to squint to take in the brilliance of the spectacle of the runners moving along the course.  The air is still and heavy now with darkness.  As each minute tick ticks away you can feel the weight of night pushing down firmer and firmer.  I feel like fleeing home to a warm soft bed but I cannot.  The 6 & 10 race never sleeps.  Almost all the runners may for a brief while be lost in the enchantment of rest but never them all.  Under this heavy cloud of sleep bright dreams are still burning bright.

p1030097p1030081I talk with Mary, one of Pam Reed’s helpers.  She just flew in from Tuscon today and she says that Pam is about to take a break.  She will stop for the night at 225 miles.  Mary is very enthusiastic about Pam’s race here.

Without a doubt, by tomorrow this time Pam will have run past her previous best of 300 miles. Pam comes into view at last and seems glad to call it a night.  She will sit in the dugout for a short while.  She is a very tired lady.  She will take a 3 hour break.  There is plenty of running in her yet.

Dipali retires a short while earlier with 230 miles.

p1030094p1030095Sandhani and Sahishnu have been here since early evening.  In that time they have counted laps, flipped numbers, filled cups, and generally made sure that the little universe, that is the 6 and 10 race has stayed on the rails as it hurtles towards its conclusion on Saturday.

Malilikarjun is cheerfully doing the board but will be even happier when he can hand over the job to the next volunteer.

p1030118“We live in different parts of the world, we come from different backgrounds, but we have a lot in common.”  Mark Dorion 49 from El Paso Texas is telling me about the 2 hours he spent running with Dipali earlier in the day.  This is his 6th time at this race and he has been here so often he feels to me like family.

It is also true that all the runners often grow closer as they spend long days and nights out here on the course.  It is a community that flashes brilliantly to life for just days but leaves experiences and impressions that will last a life time.   He says, “I have seen a full moon p1030126rise over Meadow Lake here, and of all the full moons I have seen in my life which is many, but I will always have this special one.”

Mark runs with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and constant energy.  He tells me that he has been running since he was 10 years old and does not at all look like a man who will in a few days celebrate his 50th birthday here with his Self-Transcendence running family.

Mark Dorion Interview

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cimg2471p1030132The birthday boy, Luis Rios retires for the night with 370 miles.  He is still charmed by the impromptu party that took place in his honor.

One old trick that runners use to keep themselves from being imprisoned by sleep is to take a short rest in the Medical tent.

p1030086p1030089Uljana Jevdokimova 54 Finland is 6th in the 6 day women with 135.

Volodmyr Hlushchuk 48 Ukraine is 2nd with 179 in the 6 day men.


This is Darren Worts, 38 Chatham NJ, first Multi day race.  He has a strong lead in the men’s 6 day with 211 miles.  He is getting a lot of support from his parents who come by often.


Allan Harman 47 West Vancouver, Canada has already run further than he has ever run before. cimg2473

Allan Harman interview

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p1030159p1030134Joe Cleary 69 Georgetown Ontario, can at last say he has run over 100 miles.  He has 110 in the 6 day.

Tatjana Jauk 38 Slovenia has 323 miles in the 10 day.  Her helper is Connie from Germany.

Tatjana says of her running, “I love it I need to do it.”

Tatjana Interview

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p1030166p1030167With little fanfare Alexander Dobilov 59 Izhevsk Russia is out of his tent and running fast.  There are moments during the next few hours that he looks as though he is running a fast 6 miles and not a very long 6 day race.  He is another who is running into the brand new world of multi day running.  He has 160 miles in this his first 6 day race and is in 5th place.

p1030108p1030130There is a seemless crew change at 1 am.  Ed has been doing the overnights since the first night.

Chanakhya Jakovic has 127 miles has just completed 127 miles and is very glad to receive his first glass of ginger ale.


Sometimes counting the runners gets a little slow.  Perhaps Andre is counting sheep.  Rupantar gets inspiration by reading from the writings of Sri Chinmoy.

p1030142Sundar who is helping count the 6 day runners has a musical guest with him this evening.  Vinaya tries out a new tune on his harmonica.

Vinaya performance

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p1030168“Something from within,” says Vishuddhi Trummer 46 Vels Austria as she speaks about why she has come to the Self-Transcendence races for the 6th time.  It is very clear for her why she is here, “my soul is happy.”  She tells me it is the highlight of her year and as she runs in this dark and slow part of the long night she is radiant with joy and light.

p1030170As a student of Sri Chinmoy she feels that there is a natural connection between this race and her spiritual life.  Her love and appreciation of her late teacher is something she freely enjoys expressing.  She always had a longing to try the multi day race but was in the beginning intimidated by it.  She tells me that the solution of breaking the spell was offered to her by Harold, an Austrian friend.  He told her simply, “just go to the starting line.”  Everything after that would take care of itself.  For her she says, “the highest experiences you can make here.”

Vishuddhi Interview

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p1030098cimg2480Madhupran passed 500 miles today and though it is has not been easy he seems nonetheless content.  His journey is clearly taking place both inwardly and outwardly.

Madhupran Interview

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Lenka Svecova 34 Brno Czech Republic has 164 miles and is 3rd in the 6 day women.


cimg2476“It’s not just about running.”  Yuri came to the race earlier in the evening and up till now he has helped in Medical.  There is no one to work on just now so he does the simple but all important job of filling cups.  He is doing it with love and care.  He is a distance runner himself.  He says he comes to the Self-Transcence race, “not just to help but to inspire myself. It helps me a lot.”

Yuri Interview

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p1030102The more time one spends in and around these Self Transcendence races the more you can discover that there is a rich and rewarding experience to be gained here. Not just for the runners but for all who let their hearts join into the spirit that inspires us all to go on.

To our minds there is an insurmountable challenge of being able to achieve a goal that on the surface appears impossible.  Whatever the challenge may be.  Yet the moment we surrender to our inner self we see the goal is not just reachable, but that it has already been accomplished within.  When I leave the race to go home it is ridiculously late but I feel stronger than when I arrived hours earlier.

p1030101To celebrate your life‘s

Supreme progress,

You must treasure at every moment

Your heart’s sleepless faith

In God.

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 97 by Sri Chinmoy.

Lions Under the Trees

cimg2418There are lions under the trees in Flushing Meadow, but they are not the dangerous kind.   The sun has chased them off the burning paths and they lie in the deep fresh grass and just loll and pant.  They wait patiently for the sun to fall down out of the sky so that they can once again run out under the cool night stars.

Brian & Brenda Marshall

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p1030063It is of course not true, but the image somehow fits Brian and Brenda Marshall.  They are relaxing in a cool patch of green not yards from the bustling Grand Central Parkway.  Someone comes by and says, “Brian you look like an African lion.”  And for a moment he really does.

He tells me, “its too hot to run during the day.  I will spend the night on the road.”  He and Brenda seem content with their situation.  There is no roaring or baring of fangs.  He has completed 300 miles in 6 days, and is happy with that amount.

p1030036cimg2433After coming across 2 lions I was then not surprised to see two more seeking shelter under the trees just down the road.  But since Joe and Jane are not from South Africa but from the cooler climes of Canada the Lion analogy is probably off target.   Joe is having a bit of stretch and will soon hit the road again.  He has completed 95 miles in his first day and is well on his way to having a great race.

p1030053p1030040When I ask Pam Reed why she has come here to the 6 & 10 day race her answer is, ” I am nuts,” and then laughs in a perfectly sane manner.  She is on the verge of running into new and uncharted territory for herself and she is doing so with heart and courage and a genuine commitment to giving her very best.

Her appearance here, in retrospect, seems very sensible and predictable in many ways.  This 48 year old runner from Tucson has national records at 24 hours and 48 hours and the step up to 6 days, though a long one, makes all the sense in the world.  She is a talented athlete who is simply trying to test and push herself, to be able to achieve her very best.

For Pam there is a goal here that is very tempting.   For one who has just completed 300 miles it is the logical next challenge, and without question it is a big one.  To run 512 miles in 6 days.  When I ask her what her perception is of self-transcendence she answers, “actually p1030051to get here I had a lot of that.  Just trying to prepare for this thing.”

She has also listened to many of the runners on the course and was impressed about the idea of just letting go.  “You just have to let your whole body relax.  I haven’t got there yet.  I still have 4 days.”

The presence of Dipali in the race is a major inspirational factor for her and she is genuinely impressed with not only Dipali’s lengthy race history but also how she carries herself out on the road.  “She is an amazing runner.”  She is also impressed with anyone who enters this kind of event.  When I ask what she would like to see on the board after 6 days, she says, “It would be really cool to see Dipali and me at 512.”

Pam Reed Interview

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cimg2421Pam has a large and enthusiastic support crew.


John Amihud & Artif Crawford  click to play interview

John Amihud & Antif Crawford

cimg2404cimg2434For some runners it is enough to spend relaxing time in the shade.  Dipali does not have this option.  She and Pam are in a real contest, in which each is inspiring the other to reach for new and greater heights within themselves.  At this moment.

Dipali has 202 miles

Pam has 199 miles

It is but a blade of grass separating them and there are many days and miles yet to go.

cimg2412Luis Rios had a very quick birthday party today.  He has had a lot of birthdays here over the years and this year it was number 61.  Not one for ceremony he was soon back out on the course with carrot cake in hand.  He is in 8th place in the men’s 10 day with 353 miles.

Main chef Sushovita made him a special cake.

Luis’s Birthday party

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cimg2432Of course in a race like this there is always something to celebrate.  Here Jayasalini has just completed 400 miles.  Her running friend Kateryna congratulates her has 312.


The board has so much information changing almost at every moment of the day and night.

p1030064“He has run more than he planned,” says Daniella Milev from Bulgaria.  Her 60 year old father Radi has been magnificent.  He has 413 miles so far and is in 3rd place.

Daniella Milev

Click to play interview

cimg2426Andrey Andreyev from St.Petersbur Russia is a remarkable athlete.  He is currently in 6th position with 378 miles.  He speaks little English so he speaks to me in Russian which I have translated later.  He says, “It is a beautiful day.   It is a very good opportunity to learn about friendship.  About good qualities in others.cimg2410


cimg2427Mkhail Vasilchenko is 43 from Omsk Russia.  He is currently in 5th place in the men’s 6 day with 135. 

Andrey Somov who is running his first multi day has 134.



Elena Sidorenkova 42 from Smolensk Russia is running her first multi day race and she has picked the hardest. But she is well suited to it.  She is in 4th place in the women’s 10 day with 382 miles.  She has currently run more than double the distance she has ever run before. Her spray bottle is well appreciated in today’s heat and she sprays others as well as herself.

cimg2425cimg2423“I have been making jokes that next year I will talk for 6 days straight.”  Shishaldin Hanlen 28 Brooklyn was attempting to go for 6 days without talking.  Life in such an active and vibrant community conspired against this goal and she has been forced to readjust.  Her new plan is to run more by herself, “and be a lot quieter.”

Shishaldin Interview

click to play interview

p1030060“I got a lot of joy and a feeling deep inside.”  Petra Missbrenner 39 from Vienna Austria is running her 3rd multi day race here describes the experience of running this race.  It will be the first time that she has run 10 days and she will by this evening run further than she has ever run before.    Of this race she says there are unique and fulfilling experiences to be had.  She says, “Every time it gets stronger.”


At this moment she is running with 62 year old Karnayati Morison from Canada, who has 336 miles.

p1030066I hope to come back this evening but I am a little concerned about the lions who I know will be running around and around under the clear night sky.  The guards who patrol and watch over the sleeping runners are not to be taken lightly.


Two of the many helpers extraordinaire.


Life is a long road.

Along the road at every moment

We must remain cheerful and


Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 19 by Sri Chinmoy.

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

Click to play interview

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

Click to play interview

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

click to play video


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

Click to play full Interview

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

click to play interview

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

click to play

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

click to play full Shishaldin interview


Start of Race

Click on link to see movie

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

Click on the above link to listen

Antana’s Group

Click on the above link to see


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.