My guest today is Sanjay Rawal, the creator of the documentary film, “3100: Run and Become.”
His film centers around a 3100-mile race that takes place around a half-mile block in NYC.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Sanjay Rawal as he shares the meaning behind the race.
In Search Of His Reason For Running
Sanjay Rawal has been a runner for most of his life, but his reasons for doing it now are much different than why he began.
Sanjay first began running as a way to stay in shape for various other sports.
It didn’t take long for Sanjay to realize that he showed enough talent to receive attention and succeed.
After high school, Sanjay went on to run at the collegiate level.
Sanjay found that at the college level he wasn’t having the same success that he did in high school.
Once he was no longer winning races, he didn’t have the same draw to the sport.
He often found himself questioning why he ran.
The Options Are Endless
When Sanjay was in the midst of competitive running he had no idea that there were so many different directions he could go with the sport.
Looking back now, he questions whether he would have gotten burnt out on the sport had he tried a new distance.
As an adult, he had continued to run to stay in shape as he searched for his “why.”
He found his why during a run in Arizona with Native Americans.
Sanjay was fortunate to be able to speak with one of the elders and that conversation forever changed the way he would look at running.
The elder runner told him that the purpose of running is to, “find the joy in exertion.”
Running Is A Prayer
“Feet praying to mother earth, lungs breathing in father sky all while making a connection to the atmosphere and energies surrounding us.”
That is what goes through Sanjay’s head on repeat as he runs.
In order to connect with the words, Sanjay had to change his entire intention around running.
Sanjay lives by the idea that life can be transformed through running if you are open to it.
For anyone that wants to transform their lives through running, Sanjay has 3 suggestions:
- Set your intention.
- Approach running in a different way than you’re used to.
- Look at what frightens you in life and find a corollary in running.
Using this approach doesn’t have to mean that athlete is no longer focus on achieving PRs.
There is more in a runner’s toolkit than their legs and heartbeat.
Enthusiasm And Happiness Are Powerful
According to Sanjay, training and racing long distances requires maturity.
A runner’s toolkit contains more than physical attributes.
It also contains attitude, enthusiasm, the ability to pivot, and overcoming obstacles just to name a few.
With practice, an athlete will be able to conjure up those tools in the moment to keep the mind from obsessing over suffering.
Confidence is another attribute that is needed to race fast and smart.
Sanjay believes that so much of racing is keeping the heart calm.
Runners don’t get medals for their weekly mileage or paces they run.
At the end of the day, the accolades come from doing well on race day.
Telling A Story With Film
Sanjay has always been drawn to human rights issues and documentaries.
For over a decade he worked in conflict zones and shot short films.
His first longer film, “Food Chains,” was based on tomato farms in Southern Florida and focused on the injustices workers faced.
Sanjay’s next project he would focus on was conveniently located right outside his doorstep.
The Self-Transcendence 3100 miles is the world’s longest certified footrace.
This race takes place around a half-mile loop in Queens, New York.
Sanjay knew the race director and had many friends that participated in the race which only added to his fascination with the event.
Sanjay wanted to produce a film showing why people do the race.
Not As Outlandish As One Might Think
Participants in the Self-Transcendence race have 52 days to complete the 3100 miles.
The mileage breaks down to about 59 miles per day.
Logistics for each athlete must be thought of and organized in great detail in order to have a chance at success.
“The race can’t be won in one day, but it can be lost in one day.”
It is not possible to “gut” your way through 3100 miles.
Sanjay believes that the runners need the unique ability to find happiness in the activity.
Without having to worry about the logistics of traffic or point to point races allows runners to enter into the flow state quickly.
Completing the race in the required time requires the ability to subdue the natural pain that comes from doing these types of distances.
3100: Run And Become
For Sanjay, the goal of the film was to show how and why this feat was possible.
He didn’t want to talk with doctors and experts because he was focused on the spiritual and mental part of it, not necessarily the physiology aspect.
Along with documenting the race, Sanjay also included 3 separate narratives to help tell the story.
Those narratives included Native Americans, San Bushmen, and Gyoman San Monks of Mt. Hiei, Japan.
Going into the project Sanjay was focused on catching visual moments of beauty and film to help tell the story.
Producing a documentary requires looking at what was captured on film and how to make the best story.
Sanjay found the production of the film to be exhausting due to the long days and the need to always be looking for story opportunities.
The conclusion of the race resulted in one of the closest finishes in the 24-year history.
Generally, 3/4 of the participants in the race are male and only 1/4 are female.
The completion rate for males is about 50% and for women, it is about 75%.
During the filming of the documentary, 3 women were competing and Sanjay chose to follow the story of one.
The 3100 race brings the idea of patience into running.
Successful runners must be present and not project into the future.
An individual doesn’t need to run a certain distance to experience the transformation that running can bring.
Air and earth are everywhere from the great outdoors to the streets of NYC.
With the right attitude, runners can capture this spirit in ALL of our runs.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- The Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race
- 3100: Run And Become
- 3100 Film (Instagram)
- Food Chains
Stay connected with Sanjay Rawal by following him on Instagram.
Sanjay Rawal is the creator of the documentary 3100: Run And Become. The film captures the transformation that takes place over 52 days and thousands of miles. With the right attitude in all of our runs, we can capture the same spirit. Click To Tweet
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