Day 11: Every Day Opens A New Experience

“Every day opens something new.  It’s a new experience and you can’t prepare for that.  Every day you get something new that you never expected.  Some kind of experience.”

For this 8 time finisher of the race the past week has been a new experience in the worst possible way.  The last few days he has been mostly walking and it doesn’t take much to notice, that despite his smiles, he is in pain, and frustrated that he cannot be the hard charging relentless runner that he is more familiar with.

Sri Chinmoy Ultra Photo

Mario explains in some detail with me what happens when ligaments get over stressed and the result is sometimes debilitating sciatic pain.  It should be noted that while Vasu was in medical getting his sore hip worked on he was also treated for some really bad blisters.

I ask Vasu straight forward what is his answer for when times are difficult here at the race. “I think we should work inwardly and outwardly, and invoke peace and light.”

Sri Chinmoy Ultra photo

Despite all this, Vasu managed to complete 52 miles yesterday and now has 626 miles.

It is a telling thing, and very much Vasu that a friend came by yesterday and taught Vasu one of Sri Chinmoy’s songs to inspire him.  Vasu sang that song most of day, hoping and praying for any opening from the long dark shadows of darkness that are spilling across his path.

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Day 10: You Just Smile

“In general I think people like to smile.  It is a gift that we can smile.   Especially when things are going wrong.  Then it is the best that we can smile.”

Yesterday Ananda-Lahari ran 113 laps around the school.  His day started well before dawn and I suspect that his hours of sleep were minimal.  He got up showered and got on a bicycle and rode up a dark road and when he got to the race he parked that bike against a fence.

Sri Chinmoy Ultra photo

He then walked over to his chair and readied himself for a very long day ahead.  At 6 am he started running along with 6 others whose trajectory of their days is not that much different than his.  And yes he ran around the block accumulating a precious quota of 62 miles that when combined with what he has already run over the past 9 days adds up to 538 miles.

Sri Chinmoy Ultra photo

Hit the reset button of his life every day and he will continue this routine for another 42 days and yes he will be smiling just about every moment he runs.   His smile has the added bonus of quietly lifting the spirits up of those who he passes by. Who may have not even be aware of the slender man who always seems to be running and smiling.

Ananda-Lahari will work hard for each of those laps but he will never forget to smile or forget the precious gift he has been given and which he so generously offers to the world around him.

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Day 9: My Lifetime Dream

Wei Ming tells me that he did not realize just how much the race would affect him.  He says this after running another 100km day giving him an 8 day total of 524 miles.  A very long distance for any runner.  But when you do the quick arithmetic in your head, there is still a shocking distance left ahead, for not just him but also the other 6.

As vulnerable as  he sometimes looks Wei Ming has more stamina and energy for a 58 year old man than I have ever seen.  He admits that the first 3 days were difficult. This adjustment he says is typical for most multi day runners.

He sometimes wears a hat with some of Sri Chinmoy’s Jharna Kala birds printed on it.  There is something swift and bird like in his running style.  From time to time his arms stretch out from his shoulders almost as if he himself would take flight.

Sri Chinmoy ultra photo

“It has been my lifetime dream to come here and run and achieve my goal.  I feel honored and also humbled by all the people who come by. I am really surprised that so many people have come by.  I really appreciate it.”

Sri Chinmoy ultra photo

“I feel so inspired by this race I just hope I can inspire and motivate others.  Not just from Taiwan, but China, and all of Asia.”

Wei Ming at the conclusion of our interview stops and tells me how much he appreciates how Sri Chinmoy used running to inspire peace within.  “I really admire Sri Chinmoy, and I also hope to keep running and inspire others.”

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Day 8: A Whole New Experience

There may be times when Harita frowns, but I have not seen it.  There may be times when she grumbles, but I have not heard it.  And there may be times when she just might wish she was any other place than spending 18 hours each day running around Thomas Edison High school.  But after observing her calm steady demeanor and unflagging cheerfulness over many years I doubt the third thing can even exist in her steadfast and cheerful commitment to running the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence race for the 3rd time.

On her 7th day of the race she ran 62 miles and now over the past week she ran 440 miles.

Sri Chinmoy ultra photos

Being strong and mentally fit are a given necessity of being in this race but it is her positive unflinching optimism and cheer that are what set her apart from most others.

Sri Chinmoy ultra photos

“I am really really grateful that the race was able to happen.  I can feel my soul and my inner being being so happy to do this.  I really hope that a whole lot of people are getting some joy from this.”

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Day 7: We Are So Fortunate

The full scripts of each of our lives are impossible to predict.  Seldom if not not ever do we ever really know just what will happen next.  The great scribe of life no doubt knows but it cannot be revealed to us until the moment passes and the page is turned.  I had made an assumption that after a 5 years absence Stutisheel would unlikely ever run in the Self-Transcendence race again.   I was wrong.

He has been running now for 6 days and in that time he has accumulated 352 miles.  When asked if ever had any doubts that he would ever return again and run the race he laughs.  For him it was absurd to imagine that he would not come to back and perch himself every morning at 6am on the starting line.  It was just a matter of all the right bureaucratic  planets to lining up.  Whenever that took place he would be able to return to New York and run this race for the 13th time.

Sri Chinmoy Ultra photos

I am clearly not a great prognosticator.  At this point, I would now hazard to guess that his Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race days are far from over.

The history of his life and his family are so closely intertwined with the race that at age 51 he has a lot of races yet to be run. His is an inspirational life with a message that has reached out to many far and wide promoting tirelessly self-transcendence.

Some precious moments

Sri Chinmoy Ultra photos

Green

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Day 6: Every Day Is Good

As Takasumi describes the many years he dreamed, planned, and prepared himself to come to Sri Chinmoy 3100 mile Self-Transcendence race his clear bright face reveals the tremendous awe and respect he has to be one of the precious few to set off this year in this the longest race in the world.

Every runner who makes their way to the starting line from scattered places from around the world knows it will be the most difficult thing they have ever attempted.  That they will be challenged in many ways they never thought it was even possible to endure.

Photo by Sri Chinmoy Ultra photos

But in Takasumi’s wide gentle eyes I see a humility and wonder that both he and his wife Nina, who is his helper, have embarked on the ultimate journey of transformation and transcendence.  One that will reveal itself in moments of ache and pain but also in joy and satisfaction.  There is a road in front of us all.  One which we must all take steps upon to reach a destination that calls out to encourage us, even though we sometimes listen through deaf ears.

Takasumi’s ears and his heart have clearly heard its call and he has resolutely accepted the challenge of the long road ahead.

Takasumi has had a slow start so far.  Yesterday he did 2 miles and has a 6 day total of 294 miles

Flower

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Day 5: To Be Happy

Last year when the 3100 mile race was held in Salzburg, Andrea Marcato entered the longest distance race in the world for the first time.  At age 38 the trajectory of his athletic career was in a clear path to collide with this event sooner rather than latter.  He had for some time accumulating impressive numbers not only in his previous multi days but also his achievements as a swimmer and triathlete.

The meeting of runner and Sri Chinmoy 31000 mile Self-Transcendence race was historic, as Andrea won the race with a time of 43 days and 12 hours.  A performance that lifts him up into the lofty heights of one of the best achievements in the long 25 year history of the race.

As he enters day 5 there is still a very long way to go.  But from the start on Sunday he has been delivering an effort so far that is not far off from being spectacular.

Sri Chinmoy ultra photos

Yesterday he ran 67 miles and has 305 miles

Flower

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Day 4: Self-Transcendence My Main Goal

There are many many things which I will never understand.  Explore even a fraction of Science’s ever expanding dimensions, grasp a dangling thread from the coat tails of sophisticated creativity and art, and then there is the very exclusive world of ultra athletics.  One in which unique individuals explore the outer limitations of physical capacity and with tremendous effort and courage keep changing the definition of what is possible, for all of us.

Vasu is running this Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 9th time.  His 8 previous efforts means that he has run 24,800 around this one Queens NYC block.  Without much fuss over the last 3 days he has added an additional couple of hundred miles.  This means that sometime yesterday he completed a total distance that would comfortably enable him to completely circle this little planet we are all trying to live upon together.

Despite coming to the race a little late Vasu completed 68 miles yesterday.   He is 16 miles behind Andrea

photo by Sri Chinmoy ultra photos

flower

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Day 3: Every Moment Is Important

I was wondering this morning just what kind of person and with what kind of determination they would need have to be able to reveal just how man times Ananda-Lahari has circled around Thomas Edison High school.   In this his 17th attempt he has put in an almost incalculable amount of effort and determination to make it around the course 5649 times each time he has completed the 3100 mile distance.  But to look at him now with his unclouded look of effervescent delight and an incandescent smile  that brightens the mood of just about everyone he meets as his light footfalls tip tap their way round and round, the numbers are practically meaningless.

When you listen to him you can feel that somehow his heart is always here and though the physical finish line he has not always reached, the more important inner goal is transcended each and every time he comes to run.  Though I confess I am certainly not capable of adding up the brute logistical details I am more than happy to bask in the radiance of his inner accomplishments and wish sometimes that more of the world had the same lightness, dedication, and joy.

To just be technical he ran 66 miles yesterday

Taken by Sri Chimmoy ultra photos

He is currently in 5th place

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Day 2 : All My Life and Dreams

When Wei Ming first came to the multi day races held in Flushing Meadow in 2014 he made clear just what his goal was, to run the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile race.  He has continued his training and competing for many years and now at age 58 is the first Asian to enter the race, and if he is able to maintain his pace from the first day it will be likely he will succeed at completing the distance as well.

Seemingly always upbeat and positive he had an impressive first day with 80 miles which puts him in 3rd place

He is not an easy runner to keep up with.

Photo by Sri Chinmoy ultra photo

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