Meant For This World

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

She has 121 miles in this her first multi day race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete Sarah interview

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Antana’s Group

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

p10208566 day runners arriving for tomorrows start


Each new day

Is a gift.

Each new day

Is opportunity’s revelation-sky.

Each new day

Is reality’s manifestation-sun.

Excerpt from Transcendence-Perfection by Sri Chinmoy.

Each Mile is a Flower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike ran 77 miles his first day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not Over Till Its Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She holds 3 Slovakian national records.

700 miles for 10 days

424 miles for 6 days

1000 miles in 15 days 10 hours

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

p1020781Give up giving up!

Study regularly and devotedly

The divine course that is offered

By your heart’s soul-light.

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

First Steps on a Long Road

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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



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

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



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









cimg2229cimg2210Radi Milev is here for the first time.




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




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

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

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

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



Klaus Schultz is 68 years old from Berlin Germany.







The road is long,

Very long.

My mind, delay not!

Follow my heart.

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



The Night Before Tomorrow



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

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



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

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


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


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


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



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



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



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

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




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

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


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



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


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


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