Pradeep Hoogakker, a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and a 2011 Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100-Mile Race finisher, was interviewed on KBS Kyoto Radio, Japan on October 22.
The 10 minute program has been aired for 15 years, and is the first of its kind in Japan specifically dedicated to lay runners.
The runner-radio host Ms. Junko Wakabayashi (aka Waka), a well-known figure in the running world, dedicated the whole program for this interview.
Transcript of interview (English translation):
Waka:I interviewed Mr. Pradeep Hoogakker from the Netherlands, who completed this race in 53 days and 9 hours in 2011. About the race:
- Started by Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in New York in 1997, continuing for 20 years.
- 3100 miles = 4989km (approximately 5000km)
- Race Track: 5649 laps of a 880m-long loop
- Cut-off: 52 days (To complete, the runner has to run at the pace of 95.9km per day.)
- Note: In the year Mr. Pradeep did the race, the cut-off was extended to 54 days due to the extreme heat.
- 39 runners completed in the 20 years
- The race track was open every day from 7am to 12 midnight.
- 7000 to 10000kcal must be consumed each day, equivalent of one week’s food intake for a person with normal activities.
- The kitchen crew cooks customized food for each runner.
- The runners use up 10 to 12 pairs of shoes.
- Average temperature: 30C, Humidity: 80-95%
Waka: What brought you to the race?
Pradeep: One day, while I was meditating after having a good run, the idea of running the 3100 mile race spontaneously came to my heart and I felt an inner thrill. I had been to the race a few times as a helper before. I got advice from the runners then, and trained myself for 6 years. I trained to run long distances, starting from 10km a day, 40km once a week, and up to 100km once a month. I also practised how to eat while running, as well as trying different running outfits and shoes.
Waka: And the actual race came. Didn’t you get bored running 5649 laps?
Pradeep: Everybody asks that question! Actually, many ultra races have loops instead of a straight route. It actually makes a lot of sense since you can have your own table where you can put your belongings such as shoes and supplements. Also, you feel everybody is running together—from the fastest to the slowest ones in the race. We can inspire each other, and we feel oneness, which is really good.
Waka: Still, it’s sooo long. How did you keep your motivation?
Pradeep: We told different jokes to each other!
Waka: What was most difficult?
Pradeep: The first 10 days were really difficult. My feet were not used to running on concrete; at night, my whole body ached and could not sleep. My mind started thinking, “How can I run tomorrow being like this?,” which made me sleepless. But as weeks went by, I learned that I could run even if I had not been able to sleep the night before. Something within myself recovered with renewed energy.
Waka: What was most moving?
Pradeep: There were many things. I felt oneness, and one morning, as I watched the sun rise, I felt as if the sun was rising inside my own heart. And I felt: This is life…!
Waka: You experienced Life…yet, your feet must have been…?
Pradeep: All blisters! Can I say something gross?
Waka: No thank you! Did you discover something new about yourself?
Pradeep: I realized I had a tendency to feel sorry for myself. So I had to conquer that. I could not complete the race unless I could truly feel I could do it. The process of overcoming my weaknesses became a valuable experience.
Waka: Has your life perspective changed after the race?
Pradeep: Yes. The wonderful experiences during the race stay inside myself even after the race finished. I feel that happiness means progress; going forward. In ordinary life, many times we think we are going forward but are actually going round and round in the same place. But in this race, though we were running round and round, I felt I was going forward. Those are what I learned through the race. My weaknesses unavoidably came forward so I had no choice but to conquer them, which led to joy and happiness.
Waka: What is your goal now?
Pradeep: There are many. Everybody needs a new goal. My first aim is to improve my marathon time, from 3 hours 4 minutes to under 3 hours. I also want to write a book about my 3100 race experiences. Most importantly, I feel Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy “Self-Transcendence” is wonderful. No matter what field you are in, the important thing is to transcend yourself.
Waka: You have said so much today that resonate with our souls: ‘Continuous self-transcendence,’ ‘Importance of feeling inner thrill in your heart’, and ‘Happiness means progress’.
Dear listeners, are you doing something that thrills your heart? Are you trying to transcend yourself now? Yes, you can start today! I was so moved to meet Mr. Pradeep. Thank you so much!