"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy 2 Mile Joy Day Race Skopje - October 2022 - Macedonia

Racing 2 days in a row was certainly not what my body was used to, but with a 5k on the Saturday and a 2-miler on the Sunday while I was in Skopje, I didn't want to play it boringly safe and sit out either race. So, a day after blasting the 5k at full effort, I was back in the park warming up on the loop of tartan track surrounded by the glorious autumn colours.

This time Dima wasn't running but the other usual suspects were all there and led from the front - Shamaliya, Sadanand and Abhinaba. I was hanging on behind initially but soon lost touch, then it became a battle to try and stay ahead of the pack chasing behind me. Many times I've had to take it easy to avoid aggravating niggles but this weekend my excuse-cupboard was empty so just as I had the day before, I went for broke and tried to leave nothing in reserve. Maybe it was that sense of abandon or maybe it was just poor pacing, but I found myself losing pace in the middle of the race. I'd gone out at roughly 6 minute pace and then slowed to 6.30 as the initial effort proved a strain, but then I did manage to gather things a bit and run close to 6.10 pace in the closing stages - not bad for me based on recent races. It wasn't enough to hold on to my position though and I felt Pradeep catching up then overtaking me close to the last bridge (only around 400m from the finish) then one of the local boys (shamefully I didn't get his name, though he'd been a star of the Balkan Boy's Play the night before, acting opposite our race-organiser, Rade) surged past me too. That knocked me down to 6th but the ultimate aim was to improve on my previous best of the year which had been 12:28 and the battle to hold those guys off had done the trick. I crossed the line in 12:21, a season's best but still more than half a minute down on 2020.

Ahead of me Sadanand had knocked a second off his lifetime PB to run 10:25 - a truly amazing effort just a couple of weeks after a marathon PB and the day after a 5k race.

Amur was only seconds behind me and clearly benefitting from some recent knee operations,involving his own stem cells being injected into the cartilage - a truly bionic man.

Jayasalini was first in the girl's race but Agnieska from Dublin put in an awesome run too - a rising talent.

Joy day 2 milers are always inspiring races - it's not just the run itself but the togetherness and the anticipation and the soulfulness as we wait in silence just before the start, then the race results and prizes at the end and prasad to wrap it all up - it's become a ritual for us wherever we go in the world that every runner, and walker, fast or slow, old or young, can enjoy. Skopje 2022 was right up there with the best.


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