I arrived in New York a few days before the marathon, and we had quite a team of runners from all around the world, about 300 I think. The night before the marathon Sri Chinmoy asked all of the runners to walk past him according to what time we hoped to run the race in. To each of us he handed a little band to put around our wrists. On the band it said “My Lord Supreme, my heart is all gratitude to You”. Sri Chinmoy asked us to repeat the phrase every mile. He often speaks of the importance of bringing forward gratitude in our lives, and while running is no exception.
The next morning we all gathered at the Aspiration Ground early in the morning to meditate at 6am. The feeling amongst the group was soulful excitement and apprehension. We were not expecting Sri Chinmoy to come there before the race, but he surprised us by quietly walking in the gate while we were still meditating.
It was still dark and there was a feeling of deep peacefulness and stillness. Sri Chinmoy then started running up and down the tennis court. He was in such a deep state of meditative concentration, and as I meditated while watching him run up and down, I felt he was pouring divine light and power into each of us. Each step he took was with such focus and intensity, and I tried to absorb the consciousness he was embodying to apply in my own limited way to the marathon I was about to run. What an inspirational start to the day!
The marathon was an amazing experience. Being from New Zealand, I had never experienced an event on such a momentous scale- 30 000 people, plus all the thousands of supporters. And to be part of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team, with Sri Chinmoy himself at the event, was too good to believe.
Because I was swept away with the crowds at the beginning of the race, I went out far too fast, and consequently the last half of the race was physical torture. The enthusiasm of the supporters and the energy of the runners, combined with Sri Chinmoy’s inner and outer encouragement at various points along the way, carried me forward, however, and I finished in a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes, my second fastest time, (also Sri Chinmoy’s own record marathon time)
The experience is very memorable to me for many reasons, one being the admiration I felt for the heart qualities of America. The oneness, enthusiasm, joy and encouragement of the crowds that lined the footpaths for the entire route, often as much as ten people deep on either side, were such an inspiration to me. Whenever I think of the true inner qualities of America I remember this day.