Marathon Anniversary Inspiration
- March 3, 1979 was the day that Sri Chinmoy completed his first marathon of the 22 marathons he would eventually run. It was in Chico, California and it was called the `Bidwell Classic'. His time was 4hrs., 31 min., and 34 seconds.
He had been training for less than one year, since June 1978. He was over 47 years of age at the time, training diligently throughout the cold winter months in New York with lots of mileage during a season when most runners usually cut back their long distance training.
After it happened we celebrated Guru's breakthrough achievement as an amazing one-time event, or so we thought. Since Guru had always been a very strong and fast track and field athlete, no one would have predicted that upon reaching middle-age he would take on the task of running a marathon. But he did not stop there. That year, 1979, he ran another 6 marathons, 7 in total.
He ran his second marathon only three weeks after the first one and took over 35 minutes off of the first time, running it in 3:55:07, in a cold race in Toledo, Ohio. That's almost one and a half minutes per mile faster for the whole race!!!! Guru easily broke four hours and we were all in heaven from that incredible achievement.
That was Guru's personal best marathon time which we now celebrate in April with the Sri Chinmoy Invitational Marathon. You can only run in that race if you have run a marathon within the last year in 3:55:07 or faster. That should give some of you a real incentive to train more seriously for a relatively fast marathon.
To honor this unbelievable achievement of amazing self-transcendence I wrote a simple poem for these two marathons. I have posted it here at this time of year in the past so some of you may be familiar with this simple, short and cute poem for Guru, our marathon Master:
Our Marathon Master
You bravely opened
You powerfully smashed
And sent us all to Heaven.
The following is one of Guru's poems comparing the spiritual life to a marathon.
"The spiritual life is a marathon,
An inner marathon which never ends.
The Supreme is begging
All His seeker-children
To be excellent runners-
To run speedily, like deer-
In this eternal inner journey."
Many may not be able to run an outer marathon, but at least we have the inpsiration to run speedily in our spiritual life. Everything Guru did inwardly and outwardly not only reminded us of this most powerfully, but also quite convincingly demonstated his own ability to keep transcending his already monumental achievements for us.
Next Saturday, on March 6, we will have a marathon in New York to honor Guru's first marathon achievement. Some runners will run the whole 26.2 miles (42Km), and others will run as part of a relay team. Those who cannot run or walk in the race may help in some way as well. I hope other Centres will do something to celebrate as well.
Whether or not you do something specifically for this anniversary or not, we all can try to derive inspiration from the amazing marathon running achievements that Guru accomplished in such a short time span. He did not have anything to prove to us, rather he did it all for us, all for us. Let's try to keep running in our own way and inspire each other "to run speedily, like deer-in this eternal inner journey."
By the way, Guru did run the Bidwell Classic in Chico one more time. Two years after the first one he ran it again on March 7, 1981 in 4:30:21. After his amazing seven marathons in 1979, Guru ran two marathons in 1980, three in 1981, six in 1982 and four in 1983.
Besides these twenty-two marathons Guru also ran two ultra-marathons, completing the 47-mile race on his birthday in 1979 and 1981. Of course all of these long distance races were interspersed between hundreds of shorter races Guru was running during this time period, not to speak of the thousands of tennis games he was playing.
Soon I will have a link to my website detailing all of Guru's races. Until then, keep up the inspiration to run or to celebrate Guru's running even if you cannot run outwardly.
- Dear Arpan, for me the highlight of our latest joyday was watching the video "Love of Running" by Utpal where disciples are running a marathon in honor of Guru's first marathon in Chico.
As you said Guru did everything not only to inspire us, his disciples, but the whole world. I was not only touched by Guru's dedicated running but also by the heartfelt comments of the runners who really ran for their Master, which was tangible. I was especially inspired by Snehashila who is over 80 years old. They all give back their love to the master that they have received over the many years they spent with Guru.
Although I am injured for many years I decided to at least try to be part of this year's marathon in April by walking as long as I can.