Self-Transcendence 1 Mile Race Sanur, Bali, 28 Jan 09

Back in the exquisite surrounds of Sanur, Bali, five years after my first visit, I was thrilled to see that we would be racing twice a week on the same stretch of road we used in 2005, when Sri Chinmoy came in person to each race to inspire and encourage all his team members, from the fastest to the slowest. Part of the road was in a state of disrepair, but the section I remembered vividly, overhung by flowering trees, was both the starting and finishing straight.

The race began with the briefest of meditations at 7.07 am, then our starter, Amalendu, sent us on our way - all was silence except for the panting of recently awakened runners trying to coax a decent race from jetlagged and sleepy limbs. I went off more conservatively than usual, perhaps because of the time of day, and found myself alongside Dayalu and a few places behind Colm - so far so good. At the first turn we were still in a bit of a bunch, and I took a wide line round the cone that lost me a second or so, but by the time we got into the second, lap, a longer circuit than the first through the hotel bungalow area, we were nicely strung out and I was finding my body warming to the task. I moved up a place or two and as we rounded the bend I was just behind Petra and Jirka. We all realised it was time to kick and there was a short burst of surges and countersurges, but I found I had more speed left in me than I had expected and edged ahead of the other two to come 6th behind the talented ultrarunner Chris M (Swiss Chris). The time was 5.26, not bad for a first race since a long haul flight from Blighty, and I was hoping to improve later in the trip. The temperature and humidity had been high, but not debilitating, but I was not relishing the thought of a two miler in the same conditions a few days later!

Post race, I walked back to the hotel and took a 5 mile warm down route up the coast, running along the beachfront walkway past warung, hotels and temples - the school at the north end of Sanur was about to open and the kids were breakfasting on the beach, getting drinks and snacks from stalls on the walkway - it looked a pretty idyllic place to get educated. On the sands there were bathers, fishermen, a couple of people meditating, a yoga group - the peace was tangible and I was soon in tune with it myself. My turnaround point was a temple at the river mouth that marks the northern boundary of the Sanur strip - here the mighty silhouette of Gunung Agung loomed behind broken clouds on the horizon, and my thoughts turned to our planned ascent to the 3000m summit later in the trip.


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