It was another dose of that rainy day feeling, at the 3100 mile race this morning. The day's forecast calls for intermittent showers. It seems as though however, that a great inextinguishable momentum has built up, over the past few days. That weather, of any kind, will not be able to slow down the inexorable conclusion to this, the world's longest race.
grow into the
Guru Sri Chinmoy
Stutisheel arrives after yesterday running his most mileage since day one, 69 miles. He sees a new record for himself getting ever closer.
Abichal has definitely learned how to run again, having completed 59 miles yesterday. The most for him in nearly 2 weeks.
Petr ran a very routine for him, 65 miles yesterday. I will spend the first few miles of the day with him.
Grahak will cross a small but significant milestone when he completes 2800 miles later today.
Any time it is this dark at 6 in the morning you know it is a miserable day.
Suprabha ran 55 miles yesterday her best in almost 2 weeks.
Nobody can argue with the atomic clock, held by the ever enthusiastic Rupantar.
Petr tells me that he ran with Ashprihanal last night. He says, "he was not pushing. He will have a great race." It seems that Ashprihanal wants to run within himself, and wants to enjoy his last couple of hundred miles here. They both felt, that the one who pushes the most, is Pranjal. He is the first to arrive at the race in the morning, and the last to leave at night. Often he will take only one short break all day long.
He is also impressed with the two new runners this year, Pavol and Christopher. They will likely not complete the distance but they have been positive and in tune with the race. He says of them, "they will still have a good result."
He then becomes deeply philosophical about his experience here. He says that in one way, he feels as though the race has not happened at all. He says, even though he has, "40 days behind me, but it is still timeless time." This is of course not a case of benign forgetfulness, but rather he feels very much in tune with the deep inner inspiration that propels the race and the runners forward.
He repeats the word special energy several times. He tries to not look at the race with his mental perception. He says, that at least for him, thoughts of self, just get in the way of the true inner experience. In a subtle way he feels as though, that once one gets into the flow of things, they can experience what it is like to "fly through eternity." That for this to happen, "you have to become mere instruments."
"If you are receptive, you don't have to push to do anything. The moment you think about yourself you will experience suffering." He also believes in the importance of being receptive to the others on the team. He tells me that he experienced a big change, that took place for him, on day 40. The day in which it was raining heavily in the morning. He calls the conditions that day like something out of the new testament. "40 days, really tough." Despite this, he describes, that he inwardly experienced that his Guru, was working very hard to elevate the consciousness of the world. He felt that during the day, "An ocean of light descending on the earth." As part of this experience, the day went from one extreme of darkness to one of most pleasant sun light.
As for his race he feels that inwardly the work is already done. For him the last few hundred miles will be just about surrender, and celebrating the inner victory that has already taken place.
I left the race this morning too early. Unfortunately I missed a most significant event, a celebration of the first anniversary of Parvati's Enthusiasm Awakeners group. They gave the runners many wonderful gifts, including these new yellow shirts, with the name of their group on it.
Smarana tells me, "I missed something. It blew my mind what they had done." There was so much joy that all the runners felt like they were little children receiving presents.
I remind Smarana that he had told me, some time earlier that he wanted to enjoy the race. Yesterday, it was clear that he was not having a good time. He tells me now, that he is in a better spot than yesterday. He describes some of the problems that he has recently had to deal with and it is easy to understand why, he almost said, "that's it."
He says, "You can't back off." He describes that when you have problems you can't hold on to them, they have to be let go of. "Be in the moment, what you do you do. The future presents itself anyway." Ultimately no matter how bad the difficulties you face, you still have to find a way of turning them around. He says that the positive influences here, far far outweigh the difficulties. He mentions that one continual inspiration for him is race director Rupantar, "He is always positive, all the time."
When I come upon Rupantar he is discussing with Sundar the meaning of the expression, 'time and tide wait for no man.' The discussion gets as far as the possibility, that it came from some seaside civilization, somewhere, some time ago.
I ask him about the race and he says, "It just shows you how tough the runners are. They are able to establish their oneness with Guru." He mentions how that Sri Chinmoy always enjoyed opportunities when his students could extend themselves to their physical and spiritual limit.
He says that in this new world without him there are, "Not many opportunities to really transcend yourself. This race offers an unparalleled opportunity." It is one in which the runners and all who identify and participate get so much, and also one in which the runners can feel they are pleasing their Guru.
Not a small milestone, Grahak completing 2800 miles. Bells are rung, shouts are heard, and he rewards himself with a cup of food.
In the morning Petr had told me about Pranjal's toughness, and I tell him this. He laughs a little and says, "Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last." Referring to the fact that he is usually the first to arrive and then go home. He ran 64 miles yesterday, the most in a week for him.
He says that Pranab also, only takes one short break a day. Something like 15 minutes. I ask him about the distance he has left to run. He tells me, with quiet calmness in his voice, "500 miles, I am getting closer."
I have a conversation with him, about whether or not people or events around him can be distracting to his own effort. He says, "Everybody has a part in this race. How could it work without cooks and counters. This race is not just about us runners."
This is his 4th year here and he tells me how hard it was when he first came here in 2005. He feels grateful that he had the opportunity to come and also to have returned every year since then. When Sri Chinmoy gave him prasad, he always used to thank him. He would remark to him later, that he always did this.
Now we discuss the importance of smiling. He says, "it is an important thing to smile. When we do this Guru can take our problems from us. It always helps." We are about to part, when he says one last important thing. "It is not about what miles you do, It's about what you get inside."
Most of the day a crew from CBS television have been at the race shooting a feature story. Steve Hartman, who does human interest stories for the evening news, has told me that he has wanted to do this story for 3 years.
His long time camera man is Bob Caccmise, who has been with Steve for a long time. Also with them are a producer and an intern. When I first see them, Steve, who is not at all interested in famous people and world stories, is doing the rather humble job of pedaling his cameraman around on a small bicycle.
They spend quite a few hours here, and over the course of the day, will shoot hours of tape that will be distilled down to a 2 1/2 minute item, that will likely run on Friday night's newscast. His stories are a real reflection about life in America. About ordinary people doing extraordinary things, or just doing ordinary things very well. When I ask why he picked this story, the 3100 mile race, he says, "it is too good to be true."
An interview with CBS reporter Steve Hartman
Bipin has been unable to come to the race for almost 2 weeks because of a hernia operation. He was even off his feet for 6 days. Coming back is something he enjoys, but one in which it is physically challenging for him, as he still has difficulty lifting heavy objects.
I ask him frankly about whether or not he misses the presence of Sri Chinmoy at the race. He being at the race, most often, when he would drive by. He says ,that when he sees Pulak's car pull up, "it sets off sparks in your heart." This will be followed shortly by, "O man, it is just Pulak."
The person he is referring to is of course close by. He often was the one who drove Guru here every day. I ask him, if it is possible to describe, what it was that Guru felt for the race, and the runners here. He says, "you felt his concern for each runner." He would also be acutely aware if he did not see everyone, as they drove around the course. He would say things like, "O we did not see so and so."
I ask him if it was important for Guru to see the runner or the runner to see Guru. He is not sure of the answer to this. But remembers how at times when Guru held out prasad, that he would momentarily hold onto it, so the runners would see his eyes.