6-Days Race in 2003

Before entering in the Self-Transcendence 10-Day Race, New York, just reminding my participation in the Self-Transcendence 6-Day Race here in 2003. Here is the report which I submitted to my office (since sponsored by them being a govt. employee). 

“Self -Transcendence Six Day Race is one of the four annual prestigious 6 day races held around the globe. It is sponsored by Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, which sponsors 500 athletic events annually, from Masters track and field competitions to the world’s longest certified race of 3100 miles.
There were 26 runners from 17 countries and I was the only runner from India, and also the first Indian who ever participated in this very race. The race was to begin on April 27 at 12 Noon at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York. I reached NY on the night of April 26th. The reason for my late reaching was on account of delay in permission. Only on April 23, 2003 I came to know that my file had been cleared by worthy Dy. Chairman, Planning Commission, it was Wednesday and only two working days (Thursday & Friday) were too short to complete all other essential formalities . The time when I was to be at the race venue and during which I’d to restore energy, gain vitality and acclimatize myself with the climate prevalent there, I was running from pillar to post to get my air-ticket, Visa and other mandatory official formalities and clearance from different Ministries/Departments. During these two crucial days (April 24,25) I would leave home early at 5.30 AM with breakfast and reach late during night and couldn’t sleep despite full exertion and exhaustion and even remained without taking proper supper. I’m grateful to all my officers and colleagues who rendered immense help to get advance money for this trip (one officer signed the file while he was taking his lunch). But for their unlimited and selfless support, it was next to impossible for me to participate in this run. On 25th April at 5.00 PM I collected my Visa from the US Embassy and got my ticket from Travel Agency at 6 PM. I reached Airport at 2 AM on 26th , the flight was to depart at 4 AM on 26th , but due to some unforeseen reasons, it took off at 5 AM. So in this busy but complacent schedule before flight I was sleepless for 24 hours. The journey was of 24 hrs, via Moscow, and I reached New York at 9 PM on 26th (local time) and went straight to the Race Venue. The Self-Transcendence 10-day race was in progress which was started on 23rd April. It had just stopped raining there and the temperature was not more that 4 or 5 degree Celsius, whereas I had gone from the place where the temperature was ranging between 25 and 40 Degree Celsius. Now, just 14 hours were left to begin the 6-day race. The track was a loop of one mile and I wanted to have a glimpse of that. At the very outset, when I reached the venue, I met Mr. Hubert Muckenhumer (who was a participant in the ongoing 10-Day Race) and we had a good talk during my 2-3 mile walk with him and shared some invaluable hints and guidelines for the race. Hubert was from Salzburg, Austria and finally crossed 631 miles and got victory. I also met Ms. Maria Horvath (Hungary), also a participant of 10-day Race, who presented me a T-Shirt which was sent for me by Miss Edit Berces. A unique design was got printed on it which was made by her own hands. Edit Berces is friend of Maria and the only female runner on this earth who ever has crossed 250 kms in 24 hours. To get that T-Shirt was a very memorable and thrilling experience for me . I kissed it and pressed it to my bosom and felt the warmth and showers of jocund and exultation.
To get myself refreshed I tried to sleep but could hardly had a few winks of sleep, perhaps due to anxiety or jetlag.
The race started at 12 Noon of April 26th 2003. Two days before the race, I got an email from Great Yiannis who advised me to take first two days easy so I started accordingly, very easily and firmly taking drinks and foods on every alternate loop. But, I have not slept for about 60 hours and the restlessness coupled with non-acclimatisation with the prevalent weather condition told upon my health and impaired my stamina, enthusiasm and strength. Once during the first day of the race, when I covered about 90 kms, I forgot to turn at the bend and continued to run straightforward where a race official directed me the proper way. On first day, I covered 86 miles.
On the second day Jennifer from Chicago reached for my help. In such races helper plays a vital role to support an athlete and I had a very bitter experience during my Australian Six Days Race. Jennifer (27 years of age) is a medical student who met me in Australian Race. She was there with Dr. Andrew Lovy, a runner from USA for undertaking medical research on Ultra Runners. Before the start of my journey to US, she informed me through email that she was ready to assist me during the race. Her arrival proved auspicious and my work became very easy. I finished 56 miles on the second day.
On third day, the exertion and pain overpowered me and I tried to remain on the track for a maximum time without caring for my speed. It was mandatory condition of the race that one has to cover at least 150 miles in first three days otherwise the runner will be disqualified. I crossed 176 miles in 3 days.
On the fourth day Sri Chinmoy, who is the founder of this race, visited the race area. He was very happy to find that someone from India has come to participate in this race. This day, I faced the problem of shin splints and it was virtually impossible to step forward. Hubert asked me whether the pain was throbbing one like piercing of needle. I said Yes because I had tingled sensation. He immediately advised me to report to the medical tent otherwise the race will have to be completed by walking only as he had such worst experience of it. My left hip, thigh, knee and ankle were aching severely painful. Dr. Pradan examined me thoroughly and showed me that my left leg had shortened due to twisting of pelvic area. I was getting emails from Phil Essam (Australia) who advised me to “listen your body lest you should get permanent injury and impair ness’. I covered 39 miles on 4th day. One lady Ms. Shvetasvini wanted to exchange her shoes with mine. She was also to participate in this Race but could not start due to shin pain. Her shoes were quite new and proved propitious and auspicious and my pain decreased gradually due to fixing up by doctor and new shoes. Hubert also started to give me vitamin pills off and on. First time I saw that how all runners use a lot of supplement tablets. The petty and small sprains were fixed by Jennifer.
Till the fifth day, I covered 260 miles which was 45 miles short of the Indian record. Today evening Jennifer was to return. She played her role significantly, very intelligibly, skillfully and selflessly. I could only imagine the final results of the race without her. After my entry in this Ultramarathon World, I have seen how generous and philanthropist people are! After her departure I slowly and gradually continued myself. It rained during night but I prosecuted as possible. But again at night my legs, especially the hip and foot area, started aching. Ultimately after being tired, I laid and sleep clasped me in her spell for four hours. After getting up at 5 AM, I started my race afresh. I was covering 3 miles an hour as an average. About 9.00 AM, after covering 305 miles I equalized the Indian record. In the remaining 3 hours, I accelerated my speed and covered 16 more miles and finally finished the race with the score of 321 miles (516.58 km). With this achievement, I became the first and only Indian to embark the record of 500 km.
A lion’s share of this credit goes to the experience gained by me during Australian Six Days Race besides the invaluable help rendered by Jennifer coupled with the help by all runners, their helpers and heels up exercise taught by Tibor Maltis (Hungary, 10 day 509 miles) to care shin splints, care taken by the organizing team, the atmosphere was so congenial that any sense of insecurity never came to me, I felt their love.
POSTSCRIPT
I was, however, optimistic to embark on covering 400 miles and it was well within my capacity and endurance. The 1st position holder covered 457 miles, 2nd 408 miles , 3rd 384 and the 4th was 457miles. I could not perform as was thought and planned, there were opportunities for my being placed 2nd or 3rd in the race. This ambition of mine could not be fulfilled is still my dream, which I sanguinely believe would be cherished.
I attribute to all my affliction and non-fulfillment of my yearned result to the following:
The permission was granted to me very late. Before it, my participation in the race was uncertain whereas for such a grueling race one should be very much single minded, free from all worries and mental tensions. I reached New York at the fag end of the time and was left with no time even to acclimatize myself.
I had only two pairs of shoes and that too were old (used by me in Australian Six Days Race ) and became one of the major reasons of injury. At least six pairs were required to use in such a long race and I would have to spend 3-4 months salary to meet out this expenditure, I could have managed it but being uncertain about my participation, I did not dare to incur a heavy expenditure on buying new pairs of shoes.
I claim that in two years I can bring the Asian Record of Six Days running in India’s cap (which is presently with Mr. Aikihiro Inoue of Japan, 809 km). For this, I demand no special leave for practice. No special diet allowance. Nothing sort of incentive. I don’t ask for the gear kit (shoes etc.). The biggest thing needed for it is determination and I have that a lot. I only entreat that my case be not delayed irreparably and I may not have to undergo the labyrinth process of clearing my file for getting permission accorded in time so that I may hit the bull’s eye and whole-heartedly concentrate myself on the race only.
Last but not least important point worthy of consideration is that without the helper, I’ve to undergo the physical pangs and other pigmy affairs. With the help of a handler, I may augment the Indian record further.”

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