Opening remarks by Rupantar La Russo, Race Director of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (all photos by Bhashwar):
I would like to offer a very warm and heartfelt welcome to each and every one of you who has come here today to share in today's Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden Race. Welcome to all our good friends from the community, specially our city Councilman Jimmy Gennaro; to several renowned Olympians who are here today and to the hundreds of runners from throughout the world.
And of course, we would wish to offer our deepest gratitude and thanks to Estelle Cooper, Assistant Commissioner for Queens Parks/Flushing Meadows Corona Park Administrator. Without her assistance this event would not be possible.
This race is dedicated to the inspiration and living legacy of Sri Chinmoy, the founder of our Marathon Team, who is a true friend of humanity and servant of peace. A prolific writer, artist, musician and great athlete, Sri Chinmoy led by the Peace Meditation at the United Nations for 37 years.
Five years ago, on October 11th, Sri Chinmoy was right here. He was profoundly moved and extremely grateful when the park authorities inaugurated this street as the first Sri Chinmoy Street in the world and this garden as the world's first Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden. It took place here in this beautiful Flushing Meadows Corona Park which Sri Chinmoy has always loved and where we have held our Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 Day Races for many years.
Exactly one year later, Sri Chinmoy left his body at the age of 76, after giving each and every breath of his to make the world a happier and more peaceful home for us all. Today we honour and celebrate his living legacy in a way that always gave him immense joy - by running.
Before I introduce to you each of our special guests and ask each of you to come up and hold our Peace Torch, let me please introduce to you Salil Wilson, Executive Director of our World Harmony Run - Peace Run, to share with you a little bit about the Peace Torch and our global run.
After Salil Wilson's brief remarks, Rupantar introduced the special guests. Included are excerpts from their soulful comments.
New York City Councilman Jimmy Gennaro: " 'Everything that is beautiful, inspiring and aspiring can easily be found inside our heart-garden.' These are Sri Chinmoy's own words. What a joy, privilege and blessing to be able to be in the inner heart-garden for decades which we have done thanks to Sri Chinmoy."
Rose Voisk who competed in gymnastics in London in the 1948 Olympics: "Every one of you projects peace and harmony. I can tell that you always strive to do your very best, just like Olympians strive to do. This is the message that Sri Chinmoy has shared with millions of people all over the world."
Nikos Spanakos who competed in boxing at the Rome Olympics in 1960, plus won several Golden Glove championships: "What I see is that you all have come here and uplifted yourselves through your running and through your approach to life - thanks to yourselves and to spiritual guide Sri Chinmoy, whom I have deeply admired for many, many years."
Michael Voudouris who competed in the 2004 Salt Lake City men's skeleton races and also covered several of Sri Chinmoy's activities as a professional photographer: "I remember coming to the 24-hour races in the 1980's here in the park which the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organized. Throughout the years I had the chance to meet with Sri Chinmoy, and he always had that spiritual glow around him. This allowed me to get back into sports myself. I learned from him that perfection is trying to attain perfection and to always go beyond it. That is what I see in all of your faces."
Taraje Williams-Murray who is a two time Olympian in Judo in 2004 and 2008, plus bronze medalist in the Pan Am Championship Games.
Nancy Barthold, Assistant Commissioner for Recreation New York City Parks: "I have been so happy to help get thousands of our New York City children from the five boroughs to take part in your World Harmony Run which Sri Chinmoy founded. All these children got involved in the whole fitness of running and in a spiritual approach which embraces everyone."
And the race...
1. Samalya Schaefer, Berlin, German 10:14
2. Pushkar Mullauer, Zurich, Switz. 10:53
3. Ayasya Pernicky, Zlin, Czech Republic 11:04
1. Agnikana Senkyrova, Zlin, Czech Republic 12;20
2. Keertivati Senkyrova, Zlin, Czech Republic 13:09
3. Zuzana Docziova, Zlin, Czech Republic 13:26
Although not present at this event, Mark Dorian's soulful comments on Sri Chinmoy have been included:
Sent: Mon, Oct 10, 2011 11:37 am
Subject: Oct. 11 Ultra Memories/ Sri Chinmoy/ News
OCTOBER 11 ULTRA MEMORIES/ SRI CHINMOY
Just four years ago a great force in worldwide ultramarathon and sports event organization, SRI CHINMOY, passed. While current-day U.S. ultrarunners may be unfamiliar with "Guru" Chinmoy's contributions to ultrarunning over the past three decades, suffice it to say he was the energy and idea-man behind various U.S. championship ultras, record-setting venues (Rae Clark's 1990 US record 12:12 100 mile on the Unisphere loop STILL stands), and ground-breaking modern-day long distance events of 6, 7 and 10 days, 1,000 and 1,300 miles, and of course the world's longest certified ultra, the annual Self-Transendence 3100 mile in suburban Jamaica Hills, Queens, New York. Just this past April one of the most impressive North American ultra performances of the year occurred in the 10 day race, where US resident Kaneenika Janakova broke world record holder Dipali Cunningham's race record AND beat back some world class Ukrainian men runners (including Sarvagata Ukrainsky, winner of the 3100 mile in an impressive 44 days+).
Sri Chinmoy and his worldwide Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team (SCMT) were known for their well-organized ultras, but also orchestrated triathlons, run-swims, track meets, race walks, shorter 2 to 7 mile races, and the list goes on. Just this past Sunday (Oct 9) a special all-comers 2 mile race was held in historic Flushing Meadows, an enormous park where one drive is actually named for Sri Chinmoy, and a 180 yard-round flower garden circle (well-known to ultrarunners who circumnavigate it in various ultras) was started by him. On Thanksgiving weekend a large 5Km will be held in the vicinity of the famed Unisphere (this is the huge metal globe seen in the movie MEN AND BLACK, during the US Open Tennis, and in various other TV and film segments). And planning is already underway for the 2012 Self-Trans. 6 and 10 day extravaganza-- the USA's MOST international ultra.
On Tuesday October 11, Mahasamadhi (anniversary of one's passing) services and talks will be held at Aspiration-Ground, a beautiful, lush meditation and reflection garden designed by Guru in Queens. It will be a sad occasion for me, but I will take some flowers and then go for a run with some friends. Wherever you are on Tuesday, take a moment to reflect not just on Sri Chinmoy, but on all visionaries who have created events and venues for ultrarunners to pursue their dreams.
"Encouragement is the heart of a new journey." --Sri Chinmoy
Best wishes to all ultrarunners.