All I can say is that this race you don't do alone. You are never alone out there on the course. You have so many hopes and dreams and inspirations of everybody, who is following the race. It is just amazing how even though you are not really in contact with humanity. You are not in contact with newspapers and whatever. You really feel how the race is somehow percolating out there, and inspiring people."
"Life is hard for everybody. Everybody is running their own version of the 3100 mile race. Everybody has their own difficulties. Definitely I felt that if I could inspire even one person to stick it out one more day. To never give up. To just push your way through the tunnel. Than that is somehow really worth it.
"Nirbhasa you did something remarkable, you finished the race on your first attempt. You have become the first Irishman to ever finish the race."
"I think the race is really Sri Chinmoy's philosophy in action. The mind can't really comprehend the distance. It can't comprehend the enormity. It can't even comprehend doing a full day, never mind, it is just trying to get to the next break. That is about as far as the mind can handle. It is only when you live in the heart, and only when you have tremendous eagerness. A tremendous feeling of being in the moment, and just being happy, and letting it happen."
"Ladies and gentlemen, Stutisheel Lebedev finishes in 7th place today. His 9th finish in 11 attempts."
"Stutisheel finishes in 50 days 12 hours and 52 minutes. Which is an average of 61.34 miles per day or 98.72km. He is ranked 16th all time."
"Stutisheel is the consummate athlete because he is involved in every aspect of the sport. He has written books about his experiences. He has helped other runners. He helps to get them organized so that they can do well. He keeps a blog to show the reality of this race. But only he can experience the reality."
"He has done this race and covered almost 28,000 miles. It is a staggering amount. I think he could go another 1000 miles right now. Thankyou for your inspiration it is wonderful. It is glorious, please come back again."
August 3, 2015
"I just want to say that standing here with this record is really hard to believe. It is hard to believe because I had doubts until the beginning of this race. Because I always felt that I was not strong enough. That I am too weak and too tired. But there were always good persons who said, no, no!"
"You just have to come to the starting line and everything will be okay. Good that I listened to her. So I registered very very late."
"It is hard to believe because you cannot capture it. Because it is all grace. It is all grace, grace, grace. That I could do it at this age (56 years old).
"So what more can I say than gratitude. All gratitude to the great Sri Chinmoy Marathon team, because they are working so hard. Very very hard, and still they are all very nice. I admire this really very much."
"Than of course I want to thank all my helpers."
Atmavir today finished the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 8th time. He placed 5th with a time of 48 days, 7 hours, and 13 minutes.
She has run with exceptional courage and tenacity. 44 year old Kaneenika Janakova is an incredibly gifted multi day runner, but now with just 5 days to go, it looks as though she will not make it to the peak of the 3100 mile mountain. She is heart breakingly close, and all those who care and support her are as one. All collectively feel the ache of watching a champion just miss what she had set out to do.
But like all great atheletes and also, like all exceptional spiritual seekers, Kaneenika every day now demonstrates a bravery and volcanic tenacity that is truly inspiring and uplifting. On this bare stage of hard concrete she just keeps going forward. We who watch cannot really imagine just how much effort she puts into each painful stride. Each step now though taking her further into the illumining realm of self transcendence. Where the true goal is even further away than we had ever dreamed and yet always still attainable when we give our all.
With just a little more than an hour remaining in the day a very joyful Yuri Trostenyuk crossed the finish line of the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 3rd time. After songs had been sung and a cake and flowers offered to him Yuri had this to say.
"Today a very important job has been done by me. Heaven has sent a message. The earth is happy that it has received the light of the heaven. Everyone of the runners of the 3100 mile race is a winner."
"I have transcended myself. (21 hours faster than last year) I have conquered my inner imperfections. I have dived deep inside my heart and I saw God himself there. I saw joy and happiness there. I am very grateful to all of your kind hearts and prayerful hands for all the help that has been offered to me."
"And I have special words of gratitude for Souls from the Oneness Dream Boat Shore. This achievement came from the power of their soul's love. That was the source of my energy. My energy and my power I took from the Oneness Dream Boat Shore heart power."
"Today my heart is all about joy, happiness, and love. I want to share all of this with you." (Throws his heart again and again out to the crowd with wide sweeping gestures of his hands."
Today Vasu completed the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 4th time. On each occasion that he has run, he has not only has improved his time but he also seems to have grown and transformed himself in a way that only self transcendence can do. Self transcendence of course is not just for the elite and gifted it is a beacon that calls out to all of us.
To Vasu in particular these past 4 years its pursuit as been all consuming. A total commitment of his life energy and his heart's joy for a goal that defies all our best descriptions. Yet after 44 days and 6 hours the overwhelming sense of satisfaction he now feels is the furthest and most profound moment he has yet made in his life's journey.
5 years ago when Galya Balatsky last ran here it took him 46 days to complete the 3100 mile race. In the long 5 year period that lay between then and now he continued to run, train, and obviously improve. Last night, in the dwindling minutes before midnight he ran across the finish line once more. This time nearly 4 days faster than his previous attempt.
He carried his nation's flag, his face lit bright by a smile, and his self transcendence offering was completed at last.
Last year Jayasalini Abramovskikh completed the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race in her first attempt. Coming to New York from her home in Moscow was a dream come true for her. She had come many times to the multi day races in Flushing Meadow, but the 3100 was always calling out to her. So when she did at last run in 2014, every step past 10 days was another step of Self Transcendence for this amazing athlete.
"I never broke the record before today."
This is the 13th time that 44 year old Finnish runner Ashprihanal has run the hardest, longest race in the world. The Self Transcendence race record books are full of his accomplishments, but today he has set a very unique record when he won the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race and set a new incredible record. One that was apparently years in the making but today took just 40 days, 9 hours, and 6 seconds to accomplish.
I ask Yuri if he feels in someway like a pioneer running the 3100 mile race. "You can see it in the participants. You can feel it inwardly even though you might not see it. I feel and see very special blessings from heaven here. They want to give a chance to earth and to people."
"I feel a tremendous calling coming from Mother Earth. This is her hope for the future. I feel the tremendous hunger of humanity in what is going on here. It is like a sip fresh water, and a exit out of the situation the world is caught up in right now."
"Therefore there is a huge responsibility gets transferred to the runners here at the race. There is huge aspiration, huge self giving, sacrificing all your strength till the end of the day, every day."
Surasa does not focus on her day to day results. She mentions at one point how surprised she was so see that her name had moved from the right board to the left one. The board that shows the mileage of the top 6 runners. She should not be surprised by this, nor by the other wonderful possibilities that she is also drawing closer and closer to.
She ran 64.2 miles yesterday, which gives her 2368 miles. If it is possible for her to continue like this she will, like Ashprihanal, set a new race standard for women. Her average mileage to date is 62.32 miles per day. Suprabha's record set in 1998 is and average of 62.49 miles a day.
"I come every day because I can only be inspired by this race." Dipali probably does a lot of things really well. The only thing I ever see her do most days though is run. For hours her light strides prowl here and there around the Queens neighborhood in which she lives. There may be some strict trajectory to her flights each day but most often she seems to flit here and there. She will suddenly pop up unexpectedly on some road here or there. The light cadence of shoes dancing across the sidewalk, a perpetual smile beaming beneath a large pair of sunglasses.
"I know my body. Sometimes you have to surrender to Mother Nature and sometimes I am running well."
For the last 2 days this 37 year old Czech runner has been running very well. Yesterday he ran 71 miles and at this moment in the morning there is nobody faster on the course. His pace is so smooth and flowing it would be nearly impossible to guess that he has been here doing this very same thing for the past 34 days. In the process also amassing 2187 miles.
"I would like to tell a story. It happens every day. Around 8pm when I am tired. I have no energy to run, and I cry." It is at this moment almost like clockwork that Databir's blue van pulls up. It is the one he used to drive Sri Chinmoy with for many years. When Vasu sees the van he will stand beside it devotedly and meditate for a short while.
"I get some peace, joy and I offer my gratitude to Sri Chinmoy. After that I get some more energy, and I can run faster, faster, and faster."
"I am not a morning person. For me the morning is really hard. It is unusual that I have started running faster so early. But maybe my blisters are finally trying to disappear."
When I last spoke with Kaneenika it was 10 days and 600 miles ago and she has not only cleared the half way mark she is doing very well indeed.
Earlier in the morning I asked Stutisheel if he wanted to tell me some of his personal favorite experiences that he had here at the 3100 mile race. "I believe one lap will not be enough. Over the years there have been many good stories."
Stutisheel and his family have lived and experienced a lot here at the race. Coming nearly every year since 2004 only Ashprihanal has been here more times. As I listen to some of his remarkable tales it is easy to see why it has so profoundly shaped and illumined his family and himself.
"All the diamonds in my life I found here, on this half mile loop."
"I feel good. I feel amazing, every day is better."
Every year since 2008 Baladev Saraz, a 39 year old runner from Slovakia has spent his summer running around Thomas Edison High school in Queens New York. For the past 26 days he has done exactly what he loves most. Putting on his shoes and heading around the block. A different direction every day. He would like to complete the 3100 miles that he and 10 other runners are all trying to achieve. In front of him now is just 26 ore days in which to do it. No matter what he will love and cherish each step, each lap, and each day for as long as the race lasts.
“Sometimes I have problems in my knee or in my mind……mostly in my mind.” (laughs)
“I try to dive deep in my heart and take some happiness energy from it. It helps me so much.”
Today is the 25th day of the race and from his results over the past 2 weeks Vasu has been finding all the energy and happiness that he needs. Yesterday he ran his 3rd consecutive day of 70 plus miles and the 1660 miles he ran in the first 24 days of the race would take him from his home in St Petersburg to Omsk. For a man so inspired to transcend himself he has a lot to be grateful for.
As of today he is 140 miles ahead of last years pace.
Atmavir says that he feels that the difficulties he has been experiencing of late have been a spiritual test. "An inner lesson which I had to go through. I really suffered physically. I was walking 7 days straight. It went so fast." But as of last night something shifted and he was once again able to run. For the last 2 hours of the day he ran, "it gave me so much joy."
"I am moving a little better." It is now Kaneenika's 23 day of running and even to a casual observer she is moving well and making it not easy for a camera man to keep up with her.
In 20 years of competitive running in numerous multi day races 45 year Kaneenika Janakova has not only moved a lot but achieved a lot along the way. Thousands upon thousands of have passed under her feet in those years. In that time she has set records, won events, and proven herself to be one of the very best distance athletes in the world.
On this the 4th of July, American Independence day.
21 days ago 12 runners set off on a magnificent journey here. They came from countries scattered around the world, from a total of 8 different nations. None of them are American, and yet like the millions who have made their way to the great welcoming shores of this land for nearly 4 centuries, they are seeking an opportunity which their own countries cannot provide.
What these explorers seek is of course what we all seek, an opportunity to transcend. Yet this golden opportunity of running 3100 miles, is one that precious few on earth are ready or willing to take up the challenge.
They have run so many laps and miles together over the past 18 days that is literally impossible to know just how many. Galya completed 1309 miles last night. He suspects that many hundreds of them have been completed with Stutisheel, his running companion. The scuffing of their feet along the dusty sidewalk creates a pleasing hypnotic cadence.
Stutisheel says, "usually long distance races are quite lonely. It is good to have a running friend."
"I am making a very special thing. It is a juice made of carrots and apples. It is full of vitamins and it is very good for runners."
Klara says this with such enthusiasm and warmth that I almost think for a moment that I have stepped out of the every day world and entered a new and sweet wonderful new reality. Like Nirjharini herself, who has crewed the kitchen at the 3100 mile race for 13 years this little kitchen in Queens is like nothing most of us have ever seen before.
It is not the stoves, and sinks, and refrigerators that separates it from the from the mundane every day kitchen. What makes me feel that I have entered some bright portion of heaven is instead the warmth and love and patience, that also seems to be part and parcel of every single aspect of the race.
"Every day out here is a miracle for me. I am just going to keep going as far as I can. Hopefully it is enough to finish. If it is not than every day has been great."
"I am good. A little bit slower this morning. I just go without ever pace I am able to do. The main thing is to just go forward."
Nirbhasa says this with the same cheerful lightness and enthusiasm that has categorized everything he has said and done for more than 11 days. In that period he has run further in time and longer in distance, than this 35 year old jack of all trades from Ireland has ever done before in his life. He, like all the runners in the 3100 mile race though still have a very very long way yet to go.
When Kaneenika started running this morning at the 3100 mile race she was taking her first steps into uncharted territory for her. Many times she has run the 10 day race in Flushing Meadow but for her today is the start of day 11. A new milestone in an exemplary and distinguished career of this 45 year old runner from Bratislava Slovakia.
When I approached her to speak this morning I asked if I could run a lap with her. She laughed, “I have run many laps.” As of this morning she had run around the block 1088 times in the previous 10 days.
Last year Vasu set a personal best in this race by breaking his previous record by 1 hour and 15 minutes. In fact in each of his 3 previous races he transcended himself each year. For we impatient voyeurs on the sideline, a handful of minutes extracted from 47 plus days of struggle seems almost incomprehensible. A blink, a mere wisp of time and space, a fragment that our minds can barely hold but is one which we can so easily measure and calculate.
To Vasu however, that 75 minutes was pure bliss, something that revealed the eternal. That absolute act of self transcendence is at the core of why he continues to strive and struggle so hard, each and every time he comes. That fragment of time for Vasu represents a kind of perfection of transcendence. One that has inspired him to come again and again. To seek out a glimpse of heaven in the hardest race on earth.
"I am having a good time this year, but I still remember the 10 day race."
Atmavir has had a long and remarkable history running the 3100 mile race. Starting in 2007 he ran 7 straight years. His best performance was in 2009 when he ran 45 days and 3 hours. Last year he decided to take a break. In order to prepare for this year's race, he ran the 10 day race in the Spring.
I ask him if he seems to be getting stronger each day. He says he feels that each day he is going more deeply within himself. "We are getting more strength from within." In the beginning he believes the first few days are more mental. For him though, "From day 2 I felt as though my soul was running."
"I feel very good and I am very happy."
Yuri is running the 3100 mile race for the 3rd time. He also has a world class smile. One, that when it spreads across his face can make even a cloudy day seem brighter. He has a lot to be happy with right now. He ran 69 miles yesterday and has a 6 day total of 431 miles.
Like all those running here for the past 6 days his face has not always worn a bright warm smile or his steps always been light upon the road. It is the hardest possible thing to run 3100 miles. But Yuri's smile, one that just might be world class is certainly a big part of his strengths. One that may not guarantee a faster time than last year, that got him a second place finish, but most certainly help him through the dark hard patches that lie in wait of each and every runner here.
He tells me that he only learned quite late that he was going to run the 3100 mile race this year. Then he had to scramble to get an airplane ticket. “For sure I was very happy.”
As the date got closer prior obligations kept him from giving the race too much of his attention. “Then it happened so fast.”
Ananda-Lahari says being part of it allows him to combine his 2 favorite things, running and spiritual pilgrimage, and who knows what are the other things that are happening here.
“The pilgrimage is like a spiritual journey. Pilgrims used to go to places in the Himalayas. They were concentrating only on God and trying to enter into their own hearts. Be in oneness with the world and with God. The race is kind of a modern way of doing it.”
This is the 11th time that Stutisheel has taken part in the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race. Never a resident of New York he has often traveled from far away to get here. Over the years most often from his home in the Ukraine.
This year he spent the winter in Florida but coming here he describes was not an easy transition. Despite this mo matter where he may be the rest of the year, whenever he starts the race he feels as though he has come home.
Grahak Cunningham first ran the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile race 8 years ago in 2007. Remarkably he returned the following 2 years and improved his performance each time. For all the usual kind of reasons that life throws at us, he missed the race the next 2 years. In 2012 however he came back and had an amazing performance. He not only won the race but also set the 4th fastest time in the history of the race. Grahak completed the race in 43 days, 10 hours.
At age 38, this great Australian runner is taking part in the race for the 5th time.
Surasa is here running at the 3100 mile race for the 4th time. She took a break last year because she did not feel prepared. But now at age 56 she looks strong and seems to carry with her each day an endless supply of enthusiasm and cheerfulness.
As for being here this year. "It is such an opportunity to do something that the Supreme wants you to do. It is such a chance, and I am happy and grateful for this opportunity. I try to never forget to be grateful to have this opportunity to run."
Today is just the second day of running. Yet Ashprihanal set an amazing record on his first day when he completed a new record for daily mileage, 172 laps.
You have to go back 15 years when Ed Kelley ran the race that year and established the previous mark of 171 Laps.
Of course Ashprihanal made it look all so easy. Running 94 miles for one day in any race is not easy little alone while trying to run 3100.
Today the longest race in the world began, The Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.
This half mile block in Queens NY has come alive with this incredible event now for the past 19 summers. To many who simply pass by they might not know that the 12 runners they see each day from 6am until midnight are challenging something that is almost impossible to imagine little alone do.
But as the late founder of the race Sri Chinmoy demonstrated time and again, self transcendence is always there in front of us all. There is a goal ahead inviting everyone to achieve their own perfection.