No Happy Nonsense

Guru Marathon

By: Sri Chinmoy
Published: 2022
Genre: Non-Fiction
Finished Reading: January 18th, 2023

Something between a photography book and a collection of sermons, this book really underwhelmed me, especially at the $60 price tag. Sri Chinmoy, currently deceased, was a meditating, running-is-religious marathoning fool type, the guru as it were, and made himself known for being an old dude who was super positive and ran marathons and ultras, especially in and around NYC.

Written "by" Sri Chinmoy (which is to say, posthumously assembled by editor Sanjay Rawal from texts that already existed,) the book is probably 60% photo spreads, which is fine, with the rest of the book split between two types of text: anything written in black is sort of presentational text by Chinmoy; they honestly read like sermons or maybe something he wrote in an effort to make good himself as a guru of his particular brand of spiritualism/religion/your-thing-here. It's very, very repetitive, and lacks any real substance. It's just theoretical shit, "the runner-seeker who runs to find love is the winner, the runner-seeker who runs to come in first finds pain." That type of shit. Over and over and over. Hence the "sermon" quality to it.

The second part of the text, written in green, are little notes presumably in his journal or whatever, about runs he went on in the city. They're very short, and very sparse. There just isn't a lot to the book.

Which is really disappointing, actually. I mean this guy created the 3100 run and become and a handful of other still-active ultramarathons. He was a very inspirational dude of his time, counting Carl Lewis and Paul Tergat as some of his disciples. A proper biography of Chinmoy would've been a lot more inspiring, rather than a book of photos of him running 4 hour+ marathons, sermonic passages, and notes from runs.

I bought this book because, although I'm not a Sri Chinmoy acolyte by any degree, I did think it was interesting that I have some sort of undefined spiritual connection with the act of long distance running, and there was an infamous dude one state over from me who made that his whole thing. I wanted to see if anything sort of connected with me.

Sadly, it did not. But that's fine. I tried it out via the book, and it's not for me. Onward we go.

Despite being overall unhappy with this book as a whole, a few passages stand out:

"People who don't run marathons feel sad that they don't run them, and people who run marathons feel sad that they do run them."

"No matter who is first, I will be equally happy, for whoever wins is my brother or sister. If I did not run or jump, there would be no competition, so that person could not be a winner. Again, if I win, it is only because others have also run and jumped."

"There are only three winners: The one who Competes with himself, The one who Crosses the finish line first And the one who Finishes the race."

These types of funny, wink-wink type of quotes I think do a lot of heavy lifting for the reputation of someone like Chinmoy, at least that's how it feels to me. I'm always a little wary of a dude being some kind of modern day Guru and having lots of clothing with their name on it and a bunch of followers. But, oh well. Book's done.