After yesterday’s continuous downpour of rain and a tree falling just by the course, today seemed relatively peaceful. By 11.00am the rain had gone for the day, making things easier and more comfortable for runners and helpers alike. The sun even peeped out from the cloudy sky to bless the tops of the trees as it fell into the western horizon.
The runners were circling the course in a clockwise direction today. After passing the base camp and replenishing themselves with a sweet or savoury snack, they run about 20 metres to the hairpin bend. After the sharp turn they are running with the creek on their left and the children’s playground on their right. The creek is full of water flowing rapidly and powerfully in the same direction as the runners, urging them on with its playful dynamism. In the playground, tiny children all dressed up in their winter coats, are playing on the climbing frames or bouncing on the trampoline, completely engrossed in their world within another world.
The path turns right and then left. At the junction, three girls are singing sacred songs. The runners hear these uplifting melodies as they pass, and the offering is also appreciated by every dog-walker, cyclist and pedestrian passing by. As the sound of the melody fades, the runners turn left, back towards the creek. Soon there is a dense copse of trees on their right, and they are in a fairy-tale land. On the left is the sound of the rushing water, and on the right the deep silence of the noble trees.
The waters in the creek finally rush into the Salzach River and the runners turn right. The path is wider here. The expanse of the river and the wide-open sky offer panoramic views of the city and mountains in the distance. Here there is a slight incline, up which the runners stride until they are level with the bridge that crosses the river. They turn right away from the river, gently descending a winding narrow path back into the park.
With all the recent rain, the park is vibrant with the colour green. To the left of the winding path the ground rises up, to the right it drops away down to a little pond. The path sweeps gently to the left, the base camp comes into view, and the grassy mound on the left tapers down into an open field. And so our heroic runners complete the loop.
Salzburg is notorious for its rainy climate. While the rain has been a challenge for our intrepid athletes, it also seems to be a blessing. The air is fresh and the course is rich with life energy and the beauty of nature.
Ananda-Lahari had a slow start in the morning, around noon he started to run faster. Unfortunately at around 4:30 pm the 'Goddess of speed ' left him. At around 9:30 pm Ananda-Lahari left the course for a well deserved good night rest, having 75,1 km in his pocket.
Nirbhasa had a difficult day. But still he kept the mileage up to stay safe to finish the Race on day 52. He brought 86,6 km at a safe haven.
Milan had Jwalanta as a helper today. He reached 92,8 km. That brought him 2nd place. Well done Milan!
Ushika’s night helper Sumandala gives us (including Ushika) a lot of joy. Nearly every lap, even when Ushika is screaming at him, he has a great joke on his lips. Ushika was the winner of the day with 109,5 km. He can already ‘ smell ‘ the finish line. This Sunday we will celebrate his Grande Finale….
Ushika Muckenhumer- 4800km- 47:16:20:20
Nirbhasa Magee- 4600km- 47:01:22:32; 2900miles- 47:15:31:40
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin- 2600miles- 47:00:25:20; 4200km- 47:04:00:27
Milan Javornicky- 2500miles- 47:04:10:16
The clock is ticking faster in a multi-day runner’s brain. The end cannot come too soon, the end will come when it is supposed to, or the end is only another race in the future. However, the growing inner heart, the purveyor of the journey, beyond the mind and body, is enjoying the constant forward movement, struggle after struggle, joy after joy, until a level of satisfaction permeates the entire being. As the great yogis say ’ You are more than you appear to be…’
And that is the beauty of the long ones- all the striving and surviving somehow make a runner a different person, a better person, perhaps, but never the same as before the journey. For a brief moment-all is good, all is peace. That is what life is about. One foot in front of the other, always forward, never backwards.
Sunday, just around the dinner hours, Salzburg’s hero will taste the joy. Ushika Muckenhumer has only 171 laps to go to reach 3100 miles. If he duplicates todays’ effort or close to it- 68 miles on Saturday, he will have only 42 miles/ 68 km left on Sunday.