Views From The Ocean – Reflections on The Self-Transcendence Races 2009
Posted on the Ultralist:
From: Pete Stringer
To: [email protected]
Subject: views from the ocean
Date: Wed 13 May 2009 05:54:35 -0400
I am hesitant to offer thoughts on my experiences down at the Corona Park multidays yet feel compelled to speak lest they lose the acuity of this recent experience. It was so very special.
The six and ten day races attract folks who really love to run and enjoy the training. If one is looking for the usual motivations for peripheral runners — glitz or glamour or recognition — then this would not be the thing for you. The repetitive feeling of exercise and the looking inside oneself is more like it. As one who likes to train and discover what produces what I realize that doing a hard marathon the weekend before this race is stupid from a training standpoint and I mention this to illustrate just how big an appeal the six day race and the folks who run it have on me. Perhaps some year in the future I may be able to pass on Boston and see how well I then might be able to do but I doubt it. This reflects badly on my own ego and I realize that.
There is a peace and spirituality to this race that I have found in nature at times. The lonely northern woods of the first Haliburton Forest 100 listening to the wolves baying some of the spectacular views offered by some of the big western 100s like Leadville or Western States. Sounds very different but it seems there is the same benevolent Supreme Being overseeing the grounds.
It felt special to be in the presence of the incredible Madhupran Schwerk as he made his rounds. The aura of greatness that one associates with a Muhammad Ali or a Ted Williams is in his air. Physically he resembles an ascetic and muscular Albert Einstein. He can sing too.
Anyone who was not mesmerized by the two-woman duel between Dipali Cunningham and Pam Reed is not a fan of our sport. Two more different women of the same age I cannot imagine and it was thrilling to be there as the drama unfolded. Much like Ali and Frasier both women acquitted themselves well. It was an athletic chess match and multiday loop running is the best venue for this type thing. I do not know either woman well have had but brief conversations with each but knew ahead of time they were both bringing their “A” game to the park and this despite Dipali running a 3:30 marathon a couple of weeks back. Dipali seemed always bright sported a different color-coordinated outfit on each new day that made her look always fresh. Pam appeared stoic efficient ever determined. Neither woman waffled gave no quarter least to this outsider’s eyes. To her credit around the third or fourth day when the margin became inexorably more and more in favor of the home champion’s Pam did not quit. Just to be in the presence of these two women as they wrought their game of attrition was quite an honor. They both did themselves proud. It was interesting to see the two at the awards ceremony. Pam looked pretty good for just having waged such a battle while Dipali appeared pretty done in. I was reminded of what Ali said after his Thriller in Manilla fight. — “It felt like near death.”
And that was the victor talking.
One did not have to look far to see daily examples of raw courage or perseverance. Watching leaners Mike Brooks and Luis Rios day after day was a t first painful then inspiring and finally very emotional. These are two who you would want in your foxhole when the artillery came. If I could get the same percentage of effort from my body that these two did I could really hang my hat on a nice total.
After I got back someone asked if I ever got bored. Huh? It just seems like an unlikely question. You run by the Pakistanis involved in their fascinating cricket match. Soccer games. Ducks and mallards waddle by your feet at the lake. Conversations abound. Musicians stroll the park. New York’s unrivaled radio menu in your ears if you avail yourself…the gawking tourists children playing everywhere… and did I mention the COMPETITION? Just what is there not to like?
Two guys I was trying to catch Volodymyra Hlushchuk of the Ukraine and Vlastimil Dvoracek of the Czech Republic I could not keep straight for the life of me. Not only were they forever just out of my reach but were about the same age 48 and 49 and enough look-alikes to be brothers. I had late-night delusions that in fact they were a diabolical relay team specially made up to frustrate me.
For pre-race inspirational speeches Leadville’s Ken Chlouber is often mentioned. Well for awards ceremonies I nominate the Sri Chinmoy festivities. Every runner is acknowledged but more than that there is an aesthetic beauty to it all that is punctuated by 15 acapella singers sweetly singing one of the anthems or extolling someone’s virtues . It is different it is lovely it bespeaks the tranquility of all these nations meeting peacefully. Through it all RD Sahishnu wrestles manfully with the difficult pronunciations with humor and a grace that veterans have come to expect. This man knows how precious a gem he has here and is the very best person to preserve it.
Enough said for now.