July 2 A Mountain That Has To Be Climbed

godas far 1When most of us are asked, what our idea of heaven and hell are, our impressions of them can change as quickly as grass shifting in a breeze.  Most, but perhaps not all, would like to see heaven as a place with all beauty and light and perhaps precious little to do.  Hell therefore would then be obligated to be on the other dark extreme of the spectrum.

as far 4The truth is that most of us, if we really examined our notions of Heaven and Hell, might just be a little disappointed once we arrived at the proverbial Pearly Gate and found all our wishes granted.  Heaven, where we hoped for peace and tranquility might just be a little boring and the other alternative might start to appear to have some more merit.  Excluding of course brimstone, fire, and dancing demons.

as far5When most of us look at those who run here, we can appreciate and admire their efforts but few would want to be inside those pounding shoes.  If we were obligated to spend two months out here and be forced to do it, then logically it could easily be described as a kind of hell, and why not.  The runners of course have a different perspective.  Not every day are they dinning on ambrosia nor are they forced to eat stinging nettles.  The highs of course far surpass the lows, if not then all would have exited with speed to comforting homes in quiet countries long ago.  And yet they come back as well, again and again.

The best moment may not even be crossing the finish line after weeks and months of struggle.  It may not be to return home and recover and dream of precious moments when they ran through hot days and still nights here.  Instead heaven may exist in those singular moments of the present, when they know with utmost as3certainty that they are doing the right thing by being here and pushing themselves to their limits and beyond.  That they are listening to the call of their inner pilot who is asking them to go beyond and still further beyond.  This is the elixir that all of us wish to drink.

We do not have to come here and do what they do but we all need to listen within  and act upon the call of our inner voices.  To not be swayed by the siren cries of inertia and doubt.  There is some task in front of us all that we need to do, and we can do it.  And even if we fail, our sincere effort will be its own reward, and mark a moment when our own personal heaven was within our heart’s reach.  Hell is that we just didn’t even try.

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July 1 Something Great is Revealing Itself

feetIt is a hard picture to take, that first step taken by all the runners at 6am in the morning.  That step always comes every day precisely at 6 sharp, and even though there are sometimes a few missing feet on the starting line, the race begins nonetheless.  Within a few minutes all feet will be in action.  Today those feet are heading downhill though truth to tell there is not much of an incline to measure.  It just looks as though they are going down hill.  Tomorrow they will go uphill.  The direction will flip back and forth each day.  Sometimes most people will not even remember which direction they ran the day before.

pranjalThere are days when I can admit that I am almost taking for granted what is happening here.  I feel like someone in a car speeding along on the service road nearby who just, for the briefest of moments glimpses out their window and sees the little group of runners circling the block.  Then for no obvious reason, the true inner experience of the race just takes hold.  Perhaps it is as simple as stepping back from the mind and entering my heart.  With this it becomes effortlessly easy to be humbled by the magnificence of it all that is taking place here, on every level and to be grateful too.  Grateful to have even just seen those feet for a moment, shuffling away from me.

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June 30 I Could Not Ask For Anything Better

miami beachThis evening in Miami there is going to be a major league baseball game.  The Miami Marlins are going to host the Washington Nationals in Landshark stadium.  It is a  building which can host about 38,000 people.  There is every reason to suspect that there will be a great turnout this evening though there is a chance of thundershowers which could happen as well here in New York.  Schools are out across America right now and kids are looking for events in which to have fun.  In fact, this is the season when a lot of folks, both big and small, are thinking hard and planning at length for the ideal summer vacation.  Looking forward to a chance to do nothing at all.

landshark stadiumThe distance to Landshark stadium is just over 1000 miles.  Right now, if most of the runners had been heading south instead of around this hard little concrete block in Queens they could be there right now.  Of course no one here is thinking much about entertainment or pleasure of any kind really.  The concept of just doing nothing is a luxury that none can afford, not even for a  casual moment.  Their thoughts may meander but their feet do not.  They may be thinking of baseball and beaches and millions of frivolous things from time to time but mostly they do not.  Their focus is only on the next lap and then the next one after that.  Their minds may wander but never their feet or their hearts.


Few will witness what they will do here this evening.  A handful will come by tonight to hand them treats, sing songs, and wish them well.  Mostly they will share the miles with themselves and a dark sky with its threatening showers.  We all hope of course that it remains dry but it might not.  Our encouragement of them counts for something but their courage, selfless action, and heart felt dedication of their entire beings to Self-Transcendence here is much more powerful than the sum total of a world of  best wishes.  They are challenging the limits of the physical while at the same time embracing the unlimited power of the spirit.  For those of us who watch, it is spectator sport that costs nothing.  Our only admission to this, is our hearts oneness with all those who run.

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June 29 Food for the Soul

cooksThey are not seen over at the 3100 mile race that much, but what they do in this little kitchen, a half mile away, is crucial to the well being of each and every runner.  The food they make with such love and selfless dedication is constantly present, even if they are not.  From the moment the race is set up in the morning, snacks are ready for the tired runners, who often snatch something the moment they arrive, and then again when they leave at night and even perhaps every lap in between.

picture by jowan
photo by jowan
photo by Jowan
photo by Jowan

Before the runners have even woken up the cooks have already started to prepare the fuel that will get them through the day, through the many weeks and miles, and right through to the very end of their 3100 mile journey.  Their efforts here can not be measured on a board or marked in miles.  What they accomplish can be seen only in the strength and well being of the bodies who will run those unbelievably long miles.

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June 28 Change Yourself Change the World

g11He has traveled the furthest to come here.  His home in Perth Australia is just about the greatest distance it is possible to travel in one direction, from this gritty New York neighborhood, before you suddenly find yourself encircling the globe and heading back here once again.  The distance to Perth is 11,600 miles.  When Grahak completes this race for the 3rd time the distance he will have completed over these 3 years would almost take him home.  As he starts the day he is in second place.  By nightfall he will most certainly have completed 1000 miles

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June 27 The Whole Area is Charged

swamiHe is sometimes known as the 14th runner.  Swami Paramesh Ananda is a neighbor and friend of the race.  He can often be often found running around the course early in the morning, sometimes even before the setup crew has arrived.  He was away the last few weeks and seems happy to be back and once again circling the sacred loop.  He does not say much and most of the time it appears as though he is deep within his own meditation.  Other runners will zip by but he makes a very purposeful point of running only around the loop.  His respect for the runners and the course are unmistakable.

He says, “It is very nice here.  The atmosphere is good.  I like being around the disciples, their minds are peaceful.” He is very much aware of the self discipline all the runners have, which is similar to that of his own organization.  He knows that their goals are anything but worldly.  He describes it as not looking for outer stimulus but instead they are building inner strength.  “I am happy to be here.  I look forward to this kind of atmosphere.  It seems that in his frequent travels there are few if any places in which the inner ideals are combined so seamlessly with outer dynamism. He says, “This is the swami 1right atmosphere, for the upkeep and advancement of my spiritual life.  Which is all it is.”

“Everything we do should be for spiritual growth and progress.  The world out there is thinking of other things, quarreling and pleasures.  Very rarely do you come into contact with people who are thinking of spirituality.”  He feels that it is Sri Chinmoy, who is still giving inspiration and strength that allows miracle of the 3100 to take place here.  “The whole area is charged around here.  I can feel it.”

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June 26 Can Only Happen Here

jim petersAt one time, in the early 1950’s, Jim Peters was the best marathon runner in the world.  This English distance great broke the world record for the marathon 4 times.  He was the first to run under 2 hours and 20 minutes.  In this race he ran 2:17 which was his personal best.  He was well known for giving all that he had in each and every race that he ran.

Jim peters fallingMost athletes understand this attitude.  Holding nothing back in competition is what all the finest sports figures do.  In distance running however the consequences of this can be devastating.  In the commonwealth games marathon in Vancouver in 1954 Jim Peters collapsed from heat stroke just before the finish line.  At the time he was leading the next competitor by 17 minutes. Some years later, when the Commonwealth games returned to Vancouver, he was invited back to complete his historic last lap of the track. Continue reading “June 26 Can Only Happen Here”

June 25 Like Being On an Island

googleFrom space the Google map can easily take in the entire course.   From this vantage you cannot see any pain, nor fatigue, nor heat, nor damp.  You are not aware of any challenge of any kind.  In fact, what you see from way up here is almost unreal.  The buildings and cars look like toys frozen in time, on some child’s playground. They say every picture tells a story but this one speaks so little.

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June 23 The Good Runner Inside You


3 feetTaking care of the feet is a daily ritual for Ananda Lahari, Pranjal, Pranab, and Pavol.  It will take each of them about 15 minutes to tape and prepare their feet before the start.  With the many days of rain it was particularly important to do this as the wet conditions made it easier for the feet to blister

suprabha arrivingboardSuprabha is one who comes ready to run.  She is less than 10 miles behind where she was this time in last years race.  Like nearly all here she has passed the 500 mile mark.

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