26156The hilly 2 mile race
- May 24 9:41 AM
When I was a very new disciples, I went to one of my first joy weekends to a place near Oxfordshire. Because I had a lot of enthusiasm, I was asked to find a venue for a 2 mile race. I was very diligent in measuring out a 2 mile course around a field. But, just as I’ve finished a farmer came to ask what I was doing in his field. I told him I was hoping to have a 2 mile race around this field tomorrow morning. The farmer looked somewhat bewildered at the idea that some random people fancied descending on his field to run a 2 mile race on a Sunday morning. I made a hasty exit, soon getting the impression he didn’t want his muddy field used for a race.
I tried some nearby roads, but there was too much traffic. Then I found a nice wide cycle path/pavement going down a hill. I measured this as 1 mile down the hill, turn around and make it 2 miles. I thought this was a great course - easy to marshall, nice quiet place to run, no angry farmers, and a good testing course, which people would enjoy.
Anyway back to the race, and I volunteered to marshall at the bottom of the hill, at the turnaround point. Well, that was an interesting experience. Every runner came past saying ‘Goodness me, you mean I have to run back up this hill? Who designed this course? - or words to that effect. It was an early reminder that faced with an unexpectedly steep hill, different parts of our nature could come to the fore. I stood very quiet - trying to work out if I could blame the course onto someone else.
It was all good natured banter. But, I never got asked to design a 2 mile course again - and that was 10 years ago.
When I first became a disciple of Sri Chinmoy, I had this rather fanciful idea that all the disciples of such a great Spiritual Master, must be saints or at least well on the path to God-realisation. It took a short while for this idea to be replaced with the more realistic notion that a seeker is seeking and sainthood is definitely not a required prerequisite for following a spiritual path! Otherwise, it would be very few who tread the spiritual path.
I suppose standing at the bottom of the hill was one such early insight!
Since that experience, I learnt that Guru in the height of his running years, would sometimes organise impromptu races. Often up the famous 150 St hill. Someone like Arpan may have more details. But, I think Guru once asked disciples to try run a marathon up and down 150 Street.
In the ancient days, seekers would meditate into the early hours of the morning. In the modern era, we have the opportunity for a different type of sadhana - running and cycling up hills. I suppose there’s nothing that can’t be used for spiritual practice.
At a recent joy weekend in York, Karteek spoke very eloquently about his first experience at doing a six day race. Karteek has swum the English Channel seven times, but he’d almost given up running. He decided entering the six day race would be a great motivation to try and get back into running. He surprised himself by how much he got out of the race and his running. It was very good to hear him speak, I felt like I got an insight into all the amazing things that can happen when you get absorbed in a six day race, but for now I'll stick with racing up short hills.