Setting a New World Record (nearly)
An Australian student of Sri Chinmoy called Prabhir and I once entered into a public race in upstate New York – was it a half-marathon?
I can't remember. We were race-walkers, and after about one hour into our journey, we found ourselves at the very back of the field – everyone had disappeared, including course marshals, cones, all evidence that there even was a race! After some further miles, with no idea where we were, we spotted runners on another road off in the distance, proceeding in quite another direction – so we race-walked down a motorway off-ramp, ran across a freeway, climbed a wall, scrambled down an embankment, cut through some forest and there we were, back with our race!
Trouble was, we were now unaccountably way up in the top third of the field, on world record time and being loudly cheered by hundreds of people who sensed history was about to be made. We charged the last few miles at a frantic pace in keeping with our new-found celebrity status – but at an opportune moment dived into some roadside trees and skulked there for ten minutes to allow a plausible amount of time to elapse... figure:: /Members/jogyata/lighter/lighter_images/champion_cups.jpg :alt: :figclass: align-right
But even here we miscalculated, for as we resumed our mad surge towards the finish line the announcer's voice was very audible and frantic with excitement, *"Wait! Yes! And here come the first race-walkers – what an incredible time – my God, it's going to be a new national record!"* And so we lunged dramatically across the line amid loud cheers and ovations from a fairly large crowd – understandably thrilled to witness a national record being so convincingly smashed by these two elite athletes.
After some of the post-race adulation had dissipated, we quietly melted into the crowd, flagged a ride with a friend and beat an ignominious retreat before the prize-giving could ratify or unmask our adventure. But our brief moment of celebrity was most enjoyable and the one photo I have of that triumph, a moment frozen in time, shows arms flung back in elation, a victor's thrilled smile and the intensity of that exhausting effort etched into every fibre of our being. And is that a slightly guilty look on our faces? But it's nice to break a record or two once in a while.