Running Tracts

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The Sri Chinmoy Centre has been my life, my journey and my home for many, many years. I hope these pages offer a small glimpse into the joy, the grace and the wonder that is Sri Chinmoy.


I can still remember the thrill of running barefoot along a well-worn track through fields of tall grass near my childhood home. I knew every turn, every foothold, on the path that twisted its way from the edge of the bushland through hill and valley to my front door. With the wind in my face, I'd open my mouth a little wider to catch a cooling gulp of air to ease the searing pain of the breathless rush. Nearing the finish, my legs were burning, my arms were heavy, but as I pushed away all thought and squeezed the last ounce of strength from my veins, I flew like a bird free from centuries of earthly tethers. And then I'd collapse on the front lawn and lie there on my back, my heart pounding, my lungs still screaming for relief, exhausted of all intention, trying to focus through bleary eyes on the unreachable blue vastness of the sky above, as the last few dizzying minutes of ecstasy whirled in my mind.

However running, like many of the innocent joys of youth, seemed to be absent from my life as I moved through my teenage years. It was not until my early twenties that I discovered it again. After joining the Sri Chinmoy Centre in 1972, I ran virtually every day – due to Sri Chinmoy's personal example – sometimes sprints, sometimes marathons. And occasionally, the lure of an ultra-marathon would overwhelm my doubtful mind and I'd find myself shuffling for hours through the inner landscapes of self-transcendence. All joy of course.

A unique way of connecting with people through running came in the form of long-distance relay runs – just one of Sri Chinmoy's truly inspired and enduring concepts. The first event I was privileged to be a part of as an organiser and participant was in 1976, a non-stop – round-the-clock – torch relay from Edinburgh to London. This was based on the American Bicentennial 'Liberty Torch' relay of the same year. Then, again in 1977, we ran from Canberra to Sydney – once more running non-stop, carrying a flaming torch. Both relays, celebrating United Nations Day, were the first of their kind in Britain and Australia. In 1987 the relay went global and, now in its 21st year, the current incarnation of this event – the World Harmony Run – is held in over 100 countries. In 2008, the Australian leg of this global relay travelled through all eight states and territories in a continuous route around the entire continent.

As a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, it's been a real privilege to help organise hundreds of races. Providing an opportunity for fellow runners to achieve their personal bests, or to just get back into shape, is one of the greatest delights. Knowing the kind of effort and dedication that running requires, you can not help but feel a special empathy with every runner who crosses the finish line.

Back in the good old days, I can recall measuring our first course using a 100-metre piece of string. We stretched and coiled it around a 5 km loop to a 'surprising' degree of accuracy. Thankfully, in those early days of fun running the emphasis was on fun. It was also a time when our potential database of runners was laid out in piles of manually sorted entry forms on the floor. Then we would carefully hand-write envelopes, copying the details from a select group that had made the leap from the floor to the chair of honour. This was our final database – no duplicates; only the most recent addresses; and all in postcode order – alive and well, but only 'till the next race, when we'd do it all over again.

Much can be said against the use of computers, but in terms of their ability to take the drudgery out of repetitive tasks they are unequalled. In recent years, in conjunction with event organisers in Melbourne, we have developed a robust Race Timing System that is capable of producing full results instantaneously.

I have always loved writing. And towards the end of 1984, running and writing came together in a remarkable way when Sri Chinmoy asked me to publish a national running magazine. Although economic imperatives eventually prevailed, the years of 1985 and 1986 saw Runners: Oneness-World Harbingers grace the shelves of newsagents around Australia. It was an honour for me, as publisher and editor, to be able to communicate so directly with runners throughout the entire country.

And here by the means of the internet, those long forgotten running tracts, now rediscovered and reborn, can be offered to a vastly expanded readership.

 


ARTICLES & ANECDOTES
Running stories, some previously published and some not, written over a number of decades.
 
RUNNING MAGAZINE
Runners: Oneness-World Harbingers – an Australian running magazine, originally published in 1985.
 
RACE TIMING SYSTEM
A computer program for timing races and producing accurate results.