Banshidhar Medeiros (San Juan/New York)

 In the early 1970s, Guru’s visits to Puerto Rico were always a full-on experience of pure joy and excitement. In those days, we would see him nearly every day.

One evening, out of the blue, Guru asked us all to meet him early the next morning in a nearby park to “take exercise!” Little did we know that this first morning session with our Coach Supreme was only the beginning of a new wave of dynamic athleticism that would grow into one of the defining qualities of our Path.

We were certainly a motley crew that morning in the park, having stayed up quite late the night before. We groggily stood before him in a wavering line following his lead in all manner of exotic stretches, jumps, twists and hops! Guru was in such great shape, so limber and full of joyful energy as he led us through the exercise repertory of his ashram days. For most of us, on the other hand, this was the first time we ever did this kind of thing to our protesting bodies!

On that hot and muggy tropical morning, we soldiered on, following Guru as he did his favourite run-skip-twists through the park. When it was all over, we dragged our aching, limping bodies into the nearby ocean for some well-deserved healing therapy!

That morning was soon followed by short races around the block, with Guru cheering us at the finish line with stopwatch in hand, giving everyone tips and encouragement, planting the seeds for a lifetime of integral spiritual fitness. Soon, training for the New York City Marathon and putting on races for the public began. The floodgates were now open!

Today, the source of hundreds of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team events around the world, the unparalleled 3100-mile race, and our Path’s central mantra of “self-transcendence” can, in a sense, be traced back to such humble beginnings as that tropical morning’s exercise session in the park, led by our very own Champion of Champions.