Thursday, October 11, 2007 - A lifetime of service to the running world, and to humanity in general, has ended with the passing of Sri Chinmoy in his New York home aged 76. Through his own achievements, as well as the founding of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, Sri Chinmoy spent his life vividly demonstrating how sports can be a powerful means to unlock the true potential of the human spirit.
|Sri Chinmoy founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in 1977, and his vision, inspiration and encouragement have been the guiding force behind its growth into what is today the world's largest organiser of endurance events. His innate understanding of the limitless potential that lies within each one of us led him to conceive of endurance events that to others seemed beyond the bounds of human possibility - the prime example, of course, being the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race, which has been running for eleven years and still remains the longest certified road race in the world. From just three starters in its inaugural year 1997, the race has expanded to a field of up to fifteen international runners and has attracted much international media attention and admiration.
Says Sri Chinmoy on running “Spiritual people often like running because it reminds them of their inner journey. The outer running reminds them that a higher, deeper, more illumining and more fulfilling goal is ahead of them in the inner world, and for that reason running gives them real joy.”
||In his own right, Sri Chinmoy was a formidable athlete, and the dedication which he put into his training inspired his fellow Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team members to expand their own capacities in participating in and organizing events. A champion athlete in the spiritual community where he spent his younger days, Sri Chinmoy inspired the newly-formed Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team through the intensity of his own example, completing a total of 22 marathons and 5 ultramarathons before injury curtailed his career. Undaunted, he turned to the field of weightlifting, and soon began setting eye-opening records in this discipline which challenged everyone's perceptions as to what was truly possible. His final months on earth saw no halt to his inspirational dedication - as recently as August, Sri Chinmoy succeeded in lifting overhead 800lbs using only his right arm.
And what he says in regard to lifting can help us all in our ultra running efforts. "There are countless people on earth who do not believe in the inner strength or inner life. They feel that the outer life is everything. I do not agree with them," he says. "There is an inner life; there is spirit, and my ability to lift heavy weights proves that it can work in matter as well. I am doing these lifts with the physical body, but the power is coming from an inner source, from my prayer and meditation."
In Australia most ultra athletes will be aware of the Sri Chinmoy Adelaide 24 hour race that has been going for over 20 years and the previously held ultra tri in Canberra which incorporated a 16km swim, 400 km cycle and a 100km run. He openly encouraged his students around the world to complete marathons and when organizing races to use ‘heart power’ in preference to commercialized events.