Personal Report on the Ottawa International Self-Transcendence 24-Hour Race
By Arpan DeAngelo
Surfing the Universe in 24 Hours
Seeing over 50 people running around a 400 metre track indoors for 6 or 12 or 24 hours straight, some with little or no rest, most people may think perhaps they have stumbled upon an asylum for the mentally challenged. Even ‘normal’ runners who may jog for fitness or even race up to a marathon distance of 26.2 miles, may think that this ultra-long event on a standard track indoors is too extreme and find it difficult to grasp.
But there we were, 56 people in all, running and walking up to 24 hours for hundreds of laps, over and over and over. I was one of them and I must say it was quite an uplifting, albeit tiring, experience. Instead of trying to explain in detail what happened from a subjective or even objective point of view which you can find on this website: http://ca.srichinmoyraces.org/events/6-12-24-hr , I will offer a different perspective of this type of race experience which almost anyone can relate to, even if they cannot run a mile.
We all have seen surfers in real life, in videos or even in photos challenging the power of the ocean waves, not by fighting them but by trying to develop a oneness with them as they ride along with them on their powerful natural currents. Ocean waves have been undulating with the tides, the winds and the lunar forces over and over again for billions of years in stunningly regular fashion. You do not even have to be a surfer to understand this. But those who actually surf the waves have a much deeper and more personal experience of this phenomena by entering into that reality on a more physical and deeply personal level.
Most of us can also look up into the sky and see the sun or the moon or the stars and other heavenly objects that we have no control over but inspire us immensely. They are all part of our natural Universe which we unavoidably inherited as we ourselves became part and parcel of this same amazing Creation. We also cannot deny the fact that there are Universal forces and principles which guide all these objects that we see and that we are part of, such as the Earth, the other planets, moons, etc. We ourselves are undeniably part of this most unique planet Earth which has been revolving around our own special star, the Sun, for billions of years. We can also enjoy the light and beauty of our own unique moon which has been doing laps around the Earth for billions of years as well.
We sometimes take this all for granted as we see that the entire solar system as we know it as well as other aspects of this vast Universe just spinning around and around. Even on the minutest microcosmic level the electrons are spinning around the neutrons to form the atom, one of our main physical building blocks and sources of energy. If we can be more conscious of this type of unique experience of Universal principles and take part on a deeper personal and physical level just as the surfer enters in the Ocean to ride the waves and experience their power and energy, then we can expand our own oneness with this incredible Universe in ways which cannot be explained adequately in words.
So what does all this have to do with the 24 race in Ottawa? I think most people can see where this leads because that is where it led me many years ago as I started doing very long loop runs and races. Instead of fighting the experience by feeling bored or impatient to get to the end of the race, one must try to feel a oneness with the experience of going around and around just as the rest of the Universe we live in is doing and has been doing without question for aeons.
This is the system we inherited and no logic or emotional approaches can try to explain it. If we just go with the flow, which may be easier said than done, then we can enjoy the ride on the top of the wave and not be destroyed by it if we try to resist it. When one runs these type of very long races around and around it is best to turn off the logical mind which calculates time and space and just meditate on the deeper nature of the experience itself.
When I would at times fall into that mental resistance of thinking how much time is left or how far I have gone or have to go still, I would immediately try to stop my mind through various meditation techniques as I ran or walked. That would immediately allow me to enjoy each and every lap as an important and meaningful experience in itself. It is a way to enter into the moment, the ‘here and now’, as we sometimes hear the enlightened ones talk about.
So although this may just seem to some people like another super-long running race with a bunch of eccentric people with nothing better to do than to run in circles like an experimental lab animal, it can be an opportunity to experience life in this rotating Universe on a very deep and meaningful personal level. If we can run with the proper attitude and approach, it will not matter how far you have or have not gone, nor whether you came in first or last. Anyone who enters that universal energy field and tries to ‘go with the flow’, as they say, can have a uniquely uplifting experience even as the body and mind may struggle to endure the whole distance or time limit.
If you want to see who ran and how we all finished in relative comparison to each other, then please visit this page from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Races, http://ca.srichinmoyraces.org/events/6-12-24-hr . But if you want to know what the experience was like on a more personal level and try to understand it more fully, then get on some good running or walking shoes and start training for next year’s race. Or if you do not like running or cannot run then perhaps you can rent or buy a surf board and get out on the waves as you try to expand your oneness with this incredibly powerful and energetic physical Universe.
WARNING: Please learn how to turn off the analytical, logical physical mind while attempting these long events or else it will become much more difficult for you and less enjoyable. After all, if the earth or the moon had to logically consider how many billions of years they have been going around and around and around then they too might just freak out and stop.