On 12 October, our annual two-mile 'Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden Run' took place at the site of the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, New York. The aim of the race is to celebrate Sri Chinmoy's belief that sport can be a vehicle for personal transformation and can make a small contribution to a better world. Also, the run is in memory of Sri Chinmoy, who loved the park very much.
The race is very much run in a spirit of appreciating the joy of running. After the two-mile race, there was a short peace walk with the Peace Torch - a torch carried by Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run to over 160 countries around the world. This short walk and ceremony gave everybody the opportunity to share in the Peace Run's message of oneness.
During this year's event, participants from all other the world were joined by several special guests and friends who shared their thoughts and wishes for creating a better world. We were joined by Ida Keeling, a 104 year old sprinter and former Bronx Borough President. Ida recently broke the world record for women aged 100-104 for the 100m sprint, completing the distance in 1 minute and 17.33 seconds (WR link). Still vibrant with life-energy, Ida is an inspiring example of Sri Chinmoy's philosophy of self-transcendence and never quitting because of age. After the race, she shared her secrets of old age, which involve eating well, staying positive and doing daily exercise. Ida was accompanied by her daughter Shelley Keeling, who is an accomplished masters athlete and who is the one who introduced her mother to sprinting. Shelley recently 2 Gold medals and 1 Bronze at the recent European masters games at the age of 68.
Also speaking at the event were Nadirah and Askia Muhammad from the Jamaica area of Queens, New York. Dr. Askia Muhammad is an imam who ministers to the Muslim community in Jamaica and is President of the Ummah Group, an organization dedicated to interfaith dialogue and spiritual development. He shared a very powerful opening prayer during the event. The Muhammads are parents of current 400m hurdles Olympic and world champion Dalilah Muhammad - asked about the success of his daughter, Dr. Askia modestly replied his greatest success was not to interfere with her God-given gifts - but only to gently encourage and support her daughter's decisions. Dalilah won the gold medal at the recent 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, setting the current world record with a time of 52.16 seconds.
We also were delighted to welcome our long-time friend Coach Jim Hurt, Head Track and Field Coach of nearby St. John’s University. Coach Hurt has spent 36 years with the St John's track and field and crosscountry teams (the Red Storm); 29 of those years were as head coach, and he has had a tremendous amount of success in those years. Our final guest was Ms. Najibe Burger, who has served the Queens community in so many capacities - she is currently on the boards of the Queens Council of the Arts and the Queens Family Court, as well as being the President of Latin American Cultural Center of Queens.
Flushing Meadows Park has a very special connection with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, having played host to our running events since the late 1970s and our multi-day ultra-races since the 1980s. On October 11, 2006, exactly one year before Sri Chinmoy's physical passing, this iconic section of Flushing Meadows Park was dedicated by the New York Parks department as the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden to celebrate the legacy and vision for world peace that Sri Chinmoy had encouraged.
Sri Chinmoy felt that sport and running gave us the outer dynamism and the inner aspiration to transcend our previous achievements. He also saw sport as an opportunity to promote happiness and goodwill amongst competitors.
"In competitive sports, our primary aim should be not to surpass others but constantly to surpass ourselves. In the outer life, when we run with our friends, we are seeing who is actually the best. And we cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. But we compete not for the sake of defeating others, but in order to bring forward our own capacity."
- Sri Chinmoy