September 13th, 2009. The Self-Transcendence Swim/Run in New York Harriman State Park. Anticipation and excitement filled the airwaves as 56 athletes and almost as many Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team helpers gathered at the shores of shimmering Lake Welch this morning for a one-km swim followed by a ten-km run.
Contributed by Bhadra Kleinman. Master-minded by two young women who had never organised a marathon before, assisted by one old-timer who goes back to the days of the first SCMT triathlons, the swim/run got off to a glorious start as the participants waded into the lake under clear blue skies accented with high, billowing, white clouds. Participants were at all skill levels. They ran the gamut from high school swim team leaders and ultra-marathon runners to at least one inexperienced woman, who jubilantly exclaimed, as she finished fourth-to-last, “I’ve never done anything like this before in my life!”
The swimmers wore bright green caps that made it easy for onlookers and lifeguards to spot their progress between the orange buoys. Leaping out of the water, the swimmers donned their running shoes, and ran off to begin the run, which started on a hilly country road surrounded by trees, ferns and picturesque rocks, and finished on the shores of the lake. Helpers were available to hand out water, point the way to the turn-arounds, cheer the runners on, distribute medallions to the finishers, and record each participant’s time. Runners appreciated the orange-shirted members of the SCMT, yelling comments like, “I love your energy,” and “You are definitely a happy group,” as they ran by.
Tasty vegetarian hot dogs, barbecued corn and mounds of salad awaited the hungry runners and helpers at the end of the race. Sahishnu, who has conducted the awards ceremony for every SCMT ultra-race for at least the last 18 years, was asked when the ceremony would begin. He said, “I don’t know. The girls are running it!” Sure enough, the two young women, Boijayanti and Suchitra (photo right), led the awards ceremony with grace and aplomb. Energy was still high as the event drew to a close. As they were leaving the site, many could be heard murmuring the wish that this inspiring event could become an annual source of joy and inspiration.
Photo credits from top: Prabhakar Street (3), Jowan Gauthier (3)