Joyathlon - Cambridge 2005

The longest weekend of the year found me on an overnight bus headed to England, to participate in the first annual (hopefully) Joyathlon - Joy weekend and Triathlon rolled into one! I arrived bright and early on a beautiful summer's morning in London and turned up at the London Centre's 2-mile race course be told by Kaivalya that the 2 mile race was in progress - Sure enough the prodigal runners returned; some exhausted, some saving themselves for the next day. All this running made me a bit itchy; I headed out for a jog, running around Barnes Common until I had made absolutely sure I was lost, then using my global HPB to navigate my way home (HPB = Haranguing Passers-By). Then there was a heap of chatting I had to get out of the system; poor Kaivalya and Sahadeva dutifully took the brunt of that, God bless them.

The French boys came and we all made our way up northwards; Arno was gracious enough to drive some of us up and stay with us for a while even though he had to be back in London that evening. We whiled away some time at Grantchester Gardens, where the poet Rupert Brooke, the philosophers Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein and economist John Maynard Keynes used to hand out at the beginning of last century. It was a little bit of a time warp for me because I used to read quite a bit about the goings-on of this particular set. There was many a scone had; plus a river which myself and Acharjya made full use of to get in a bit of practice for the next day.


Then we made the short trip into Cambridge; we had a very nice meditation hall and a scrumptious dinner awaiting us. The British Centres are learning 74 songs (and not all short ones either) as a challenge to be completed by Sri Chinmoy's birthday in August, so we had a very ambitious singing schedule - time constraints cut it short somewhat, but I did like at the start when we invoked the qualities that spiritual singing should have - consciousness, oneness, soulfulness, sweetness, perfection, confidence, cheerfulness and gratitude - by chanting each of them mantrically seven times. We also saw some videos of Ashrita's latest record-breaking feat, the 'Oneness Heart Tears and Smiles' humanitarian service being performed by the British centres, and Sri Chinmoy attending an exibition of his Jharna-Kala paintings at the Louvre. One could almost forget about what was to come the next day...

Boys swim 1

Boys swim 2

Boys with toys

Seven a.m found us at the longest pool in Britain - 100m end-to-end. The water temperature was just right and the distance (200m) didnt seem too intimidating...eight of us at a time were put in the pool without any lanes to separate us; the signal was given and we all set off far too quickly . According to neutral independent observers, Steve started all the trouble by veering right and squeezing us all in. The pool quickly became a mass of tangled arms and legs and people laughing on the sidelines. After what seemed like an age of frantic swimming, getting kicks in the stomach and returning them with equal vigour, I looked up and saw I had only covered 50 metres; one of the most disheartening moments I can ever recall having, let me tell you. I dont know how I finished at all. My swimming technique is so bad; I barely kick my legs at all and more often than not I am to be found inclined at 45 degrees to the surface of the water with my head up; I have been told I look like a combine harvester in the water. Dave wisely stuck to the sidelines and finished miles (and smiles) ahead of everyone else. In Heat 2, Ed and Chidabas proved the superiority of technique over kicking people in the stomach (resolving that long disputed argument once and for all).

Ok, what's next? Straight out of the water and onto the bikes? Er, well hang on, we have to have breakfast first...(I can see the Australians, with their fine tradition of ultradistance triathlons, already inching their mouse towards the next button) In defence, I would have to say that having the three events separate was a great idea; it meant everyone could (and did) participate, and those who wanted to go hell for leather could still do so. After breakfast we were all ferried out to the countryside for the bike section (4 miles); Richard gave an exhibition of the skills that have made him one of the Uk's top amateur cyclists . Roger very kindly let me have his bike and his funny shoes that you clip into the pedals. I had never been on that kind of racing bike before and it was a little nervy negotiating cars out for a Sunday drive but I really enjoyed that bit. Dave practically had the triathlon sown up after the first two events, being over 2 minutes ahead of everyone else.

Back into Cambridge for the run (2 miles); the temperature was close on 30 degrees and the crowds in the park were huge. The route avoided people for the most part apart from one section where they were all queueing up to buy icecream...thankfully no disentangling had to be done and everyone finished safe and sound.

Then to round off the day, back to the meditation hall for a nice meditation, and some very nice arrangements of Sri Chinmoy's songs performed by the English boys group Ananda and Fran's singing group.

by Shane from the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre, Ireland