About vasanti

Vasanti Niemz, born 1956, living in Heidelberg, working in webdesign and internet-marketing and teaching kids yoga part time. Vegetarian since 1981 and amateur ultra-distance/endurance athlete.
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Angikar finished in Heidelberg 9/11 around noon

First of all: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS – to Angikar and the whole team!

Just a few glimpses for now – more to come.

Sept. 6: swimming on the best swim day of the year in unbelievable conditions – looks like liquid silver (click for video):

Swim-Sept-6

 

 

Heidelberg Castle

A very happy Angikar with the Serbian flag – and Heidelberg Castle in the back

 

More photos  of the swim → here

 

 

 

 

Being busy with many other things, Angikar`s training had actually been quite limited – mainly to swimming. However, his absolute faith – and the inner and outer support from friends and teammates all over the world – carried him through.  One “mantra” or idea that inspired and helped Angikar right from the beginning tremendously, was a quote by his meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy:

Peace Tree Heidelberg

Angikar with local and main helpers, finishing at the Ethnological Museum at the Gingko Peace Tree planted in 2001 with the current mayor of Heidelberg

Peace Tree Ethnological Museum Heidelberg

Two EC-Triathlons: Dover-Aachen 2010 (right), Dover-Heidelberg 2014 (left), and 4 EC solos and 3 EC relays in one photo

We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.
Sri Chinmoy

Interestingly, to the day 29 years ago, back in 1985, after our first two team members successfully swam the English Channel, Sri Chinmoy commented:

“Yesterday`s impossibility has surrendered to today’s reality. But this reality also has to be transcended… Self-transcendence is a very special kind of perfection in the Heart of our Beloved Supreme.” – Sri Chinmoy, Sept. 11, 1985

 

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Angikar made it! And is on his way via Brussels and Aachen to Heidelberg

Map-FinishTeammate Angikar Sasa Djordjevic (43), first EC soloist from Serbia in 2010, just finished his 2nd English Channel swim in 18 h 41 min – faster than his 2010 solo. He is now being delivered to Calais for some well-deserved rest before he will get on his bike on Sunday morning. (See his swim route on the left.)

 

otto-thaning-oldest-person-swim-english-channel

Otto Thaning, new EC age record at 73 (photo credit twitter Lewis Pugh)

Map-to-CalaisJust a bit earlier today a new age record was established: 73 year old heart surgeon Dr. Otto Thaning from South Africa became the eldest English Channel swimmer – breaking the old record by about 3 years in 12 hours 52 min (Otto was scheduled to swim in 2012 at age 72 but the weather did not cooperate then. It is amazing and extremely inspiring to see him come back to fulfil his dream!). The breaststroke swimmer Tony Baley with Anastasia is also heading towards Calais – but still  swimming (after 20 hours!). He finally finished after 25 h 56 min!

Victory flags are flying at Varne Ridge

Flag-Varne-Ridge2- the Serbian flag for Angikar and the South African flag for age record breaker Otto Thaning, in front of one of the rows of successful Channel swim plaques.  Such a special service by Dave and Evelyn at such a special place for Channel swimmers and aspirants – thanks so much!

Update Monday, 8th: As of Monday, Angikar has passed Brussels and covered over 1/3 of his bike route. They had some logistical problems and he took some more rest. Expected to reach Aachen tonight.

Dover-Heidelberg triathlon route Angikar 2014 - on his bike leg right now

Angikar`s planned Dover-Heidelberg Channel Triathlon route – on his bike leg right now (Sunday, Sept. 7)

Update Wednesday, 10th: He finished biking in Bingen late last night and started running at 2:30 a.m. this morning. One Serbian helper had to leave, but now a local helper from Heidelberg ist also with him. At 10:30 p.m. he still has 50 km to go. But the weather is fine and there is a beautiful full moon. Slow and steady wins the race! He will finish on Sept. 11th – the anniversary day of my first EC-triathlon attempt in 2008, when I was pulled out of the water hypothermic. And his start on Sept. 6th was the finish day of my shorter EC triathon Dover-Aachen in 2010.  Things are evolving very nicely!

He told me he is carrying the Peace Torch (previously World Harmony Torch) with him and is dedicating every stroke, pedal and step of his “Self-Transcendence Challenge” to peace and the European Peace Run 2014, which will end in the capital of his country, Serbia/Belgrade, on Oct. 7/8th.

Also, he will be able to write a book just about the challenges leading up to the start, and another one about the various challenges en route – like locking up the bikes during van-dinner, misplacing the key and calling the police etc.

Angikar and Peace Torch in 2010

Angikar and Peace Torch in 2010 at the start of his 1st EC solo

 

What gives life its value,
If not its inner cry
For self-transcendence?
- Sri Chinmoy

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Angikar attempting to conquer the English Channel – again – and more…

Angikar-6-1-Sept-5b

Screenshot about 2 p.m. Dover time. Below you will find the link to the tracker – the green arrow is Gallivant. http://cspf.co.uk/tracking#

At 5 a.m. this morning (Sept. 6) Angikar, Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member from Serbia, with pilot boat Gallivant/James Willi and helpers set off from famous Shakespeare Beach in Dover, together with an armada of other pilot boats and their solo or relay swimmers, in an attempt to conquer the English Channel a second time (his first solo was Aug. 8, 2010, in 19 h 24 min, followed by an EC relay Sept. 2010) – this time as part of a personal EC triathlon. It is the first day of the spring tides, with a bit more current, but the weather conditions are looking great.

Angikar and his helper Aryavan

Angikar and his helper Aryavan at Shakespeare beach in 2010

His goal will be Dover-Heidelberg – a long cherished dream, which might be manifested soon!  He will have a short rest in Calais, than get on his bike on Sunday and Monday for 560 km through Brussels and Aachen along the Rhine to Bingen, followed by a short rest again, and then running 3 marathons to Heidelberg. Good vibes and lots of inner support is very welcome! The whole project will take a few days. More updates to follow.

Here you can follow the tracker (the green arrow is his boat, Gallivant, if you click on the arrow and then on “latest track”, you can see the course due to the currents – the boats always try to go straight, but you get swept into a curve): http://cspf.co.uk/tracking#

Update 7:50 p.m. Heidelberg time:

Channel is pancake flat – here a breaststroker stroking away with Anastasia:
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=357602904397132

And this is the current position of the boats in the Channel – Angikar green arrow:

Position around 7 p.m. Dover time

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Lewis Pugh: Seven Swims – Seven Seas – for 1 Reason

Vietnam Beach - Nha TrangOn my trips around the world I so often wondered what will happen to our oceans with increasing pollution via plastic and other garbage and reckless industrial overfishing that also destroys corals and other sealife. Beaches, seabeds and the water itself are losing their pristine beauty, the sea and its inhabitants are suffering in many ways. Before swimming Gibraltar in 2012 we watched a film about how endangered not only whales and dolphins are in the straits, but how bluefin tuna is on the verge of extinction being caught by industrial fishing boats even on their way to spawn in the mediterranean. Local fisherman are losing their livelihoods. Similar situations can be found all over the world, where catches don’t serve to feed the hungry but the well-nourished, not serving the need of people but rather their greed (Einstein). Today, to work for a peaceful world also has to include taking care of our environment and our resources – including, very importantly, the oceans, which cover over 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the water of our blue planet.

Seven-seasSo when environmental campaigner, UN Patron of the Oceans, North Pole and Everest swimmer Lewis Pugh got ready for his new expedition to help preserve our oceans and to highlight the need for the creation of marine protected areas, Peace Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu blessed him and told him:  “You’re not a swimmer, you’re a peace campaigner.” And explained:

“When you damage the environment, you create conditions ripe for conflict. When you protect the environment, you bring peace.”

Lewis new project happening right now till the end of August is his Seven Seas Expedition – a series of long distance swims in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Black Sea, the Red Sea and a final 100 km staged swim in the North Sea with the mission “to inspire people around the world to protect and preserve our oceans, and all that live in them, for a peaceful and sustainable future.”

And he is inviting everyone to GET INVOLVED - in whichever way you feel inspired. Like with the Peace Run – every little step or action counts. Each of us CAN make a difference. Because we are all connected.

On August, 28-29th, Lewis finished his last of the 7 Sea Swims:

60 km in 2 sets from South End in the North Sea up the Thames to Thames Barrier, London,UK in 8hrs and 12 minutes in 2 swims (with the incoming tide).

Here is a very deep and touching summary of his swim experiences and a call to action to protect our oceans. He says:

“I’ve experienced some things I will never forget. And seen some things I wish I could erase from my memory, but which will haunt me for the rest of my days…” continue:  http://lewispugh.com/our-fight-for-a-fighting-chance/-swims

Lewis Pugh 7 Swims7 Seas for MAPs

Lewis Pugh swimming an an MAP (Marine Protected Area) in the Red Sea, and in a non-protectd area during his 7 Swims in7 Seas (Photo: Kelvin Trautman)

 

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Karteek and the washing machine – EC solo no 11!

Karteek-swim-2014

Karteek’s wim track – courtesy CS & PF

Karteek-6-day-race

At the 6-day race, N.Y., April 2014

After a few years away from the English Channel, exploring other (cheaper) open water swim adventures across Scottish lochs and firths, then back crewing for our teammate Adriano from Brazil who “conquered” the English Channel in July 2013, and completing his first 6-day footrace  in April 2014, Scottish “King of the Channel” Karteek Clarke felt ist was time again for the “real thing” this year – another EC solo. He was booked for the tide starting July 20th, but as is so often the case, there was a lot of waiting involved, weather and tides not quite cooperating the way they were supposed to, with the added challenge of having to switch his pilot last minute. Karteek finally got his chance to swim on July 30th, on a windy spring tide – and an opportunity to enter new territory, timewise!

Spring tides and wind over tide combined to make it his longest swim so far – 19 hours 01 min.  He will post a longer story soon on his blog.  Here some of his first remarks about the swim:

“I felt super strong at the beginning and it seemed it would be a fast swim, but then it was a ‘washing machine’ all the way and I could never get into a proper stroke. Also it was on a spring tide, which is probably fine if you have flat calm conditions, but it made the end hard as you can see on the map – I thought we were going into the bay of Wissant, but then I saw two huge ferries between me and the beach (which is where they go near Calais) and then Devashishu, my helper, told me we were next to Calais!  So we just made it in, I think.  It was great to do the Channel again though. Mike Oram, my boat pilot, was really great – very helpful and professional – I could not imagine a better pilot.  Maybe I needed to have the experience of knowing I can swim for 19 hours! I will write up more on my blog in a while.”

There is only one dream
That will always be perfect
In your lifetime,
And that is the dream
Of self-transcendence.
- Sri Chinmoy

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Around the block in 52 days – CBS reports on the 3100 mile race in N.Y.

CBS-3100
Great coverage for a great bunch of world elite runners on → CBS news

The 18th edition of the annual Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race of New York – called ‘The Mount Everest of ultramarathons’ by The New York  Times – started on June 15th and will end on August 6. Of the 14 runners, the first ones already finished, in first place Sarvagata Ukrainsky (from Ukraine), who has run the race for the 4th time now, followed by Yuri Trostenyuk in 2nd place in his 2nd 3100 mile race.  Vasu will finish in 3rd place in his 3rd race!  For Pranjal Milovnik in 4th place, it is his 10th edition of the race. And for Stutisheel (Ukraine) in 5th place it will be his 8th finish. (See → result details.)

3100-miles-girls

From left to right: Jayasalini Abramovskikh (RU), Sarah Barnett (AUS), Nidhruvi Zimmerman (A) – still happy after about 36 days of running over 2 marathons (50-60 miles or more) daily!

I am particularly impressed, however, by the 3 girls in the race, Sarah from Australia, Nidhruvi from Vienna, Austria, and Jayasalini from Russia – with their absolutely inspiring performances. Having done one 6-day-race myself in April 2010 I have just a small idea of what the runners have to be going through in terms of physical and mental challenges and sometimes excruciating pains – on the one hand. On the other hand, there are many transformative spiritual experiences and deep inner experiences of satisfaction, peace and even ecstasy – which will permeate the entire being and be absorbed  and felt #even more for weeks and months after the race is finished. For deeper insights into the world of this mind-blowing challenge there are Utpal’s great daily posts about the race and its runners, with live interviews, photos and very knowledgeble background and inside information on → www.perfectionjourney.

Main website: www.3100.srichinmoyraces.org/main-3100

My life’s only road:
Forward.
My heart’s only road:
Inward.
My soul’s only road:
Upward.

Sri Chinmoy, Morning blessing-call-prayers

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Safely back – and the peace torch made it up to Kili!

Kili-UhuruAll are safely back – after an amazing Peace Run adventure in Africa – Tanzania – Arusha.

9 of our 13 climbers took the peace torch all the way up to Uhuru Peak, 2 made it at least to Stella Point, I had to turn around after 3:15 hours climbing up the crater – but I was very happy still – and one had to stay at Kibu hut due to altitude sickness! More to follow, including tons of photos.

The weather gods were with us – mild temperatures, no wind,  mostly clear sky – “because you had peace in your hearts”, one guide said – after an initial rainy day with thunderstorm at night at Mandara hut. Groups waiting to summit from Kibu hut that night were not allowed to summit – too dangerous!

More on www.peacerun.org – everything is up now! (pls. forgive the Austrian English :)

Nice slide show by Vaibhava: Dropbox Peace Run Africa

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Next Project: Peace Run Africa – Carrying the Torch up Mt. Kilimanjaro !

After swimming to Africa (Gibraltar Straits) in Oct. 2012 and some more Peace Run activites this summer in Europe (UK and Germany), it felt like the time for me to finally join Peace Run Africa, which will be converging from the north, south and central Africa in Arusha on Nov. 6th. Starting Nov. 8th, a mixed very international team will then carry the torch up Mount Kilimanjaro, hopefully all the way up to Uhuru Peak – to the highest point in Africa (5895 m)! I am sooo excited!!! Summit day will be the 12th. Support prayers welcome!

Elefant
I am aware of the danger of altitude sickness, especially with a short 6 day tour (Marangu route), and we will respect any serious signs of that. However, my father did it (still a smoker at that time) when he was 3 years older than I am now, also Marangu route – so there is hope! Last night watched the DVD “Kilimanjaro – Summit of Freedom” (German, “Gipfel der Freiheit”) - very inspiring and great for some last inner and outer preparation!

I am bringing my Peace Torch from Heidelberg – so the school kids will be even more excited next time, when Africa has been added!

Another highlight or our trip was going to be our visit to Tegla Loroupe and her Peace Foundation and her to her Peace School in Kapenguria, Kenia, which we have been supporting for many years – but for several reasons, the Kenia part was cancelled for now, we will go there later. Peace Run South Africa and Ethiopia are on their way.

Here some impressions from the Peace Run/Harmony Run of the past:Impressions of Peace Run Africa

 

More on: www.peacerun.org/fa

→ Interesting facts on Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Abhejali – our next team member to “conquer” the Strait of Gibraltar!

Abhejali-Tarifa

Joining Continents

“Swimming to Africa”, i.e. swimming the Strait of Gibraltar from the southernmost tip of Europe (Tarifa, Spain) to Africa (Morocco) – 15-20 km – is not comparable to an English Channel swim, but bridging two continents has a special magic to it. And there are similar challenges: unpredictable weather, days of waiting, currents, fog, huge container ships in the shipping lanes – but nicer marine life. The success rate is higher since the swim is shorter and easier – but you never know exactly what the currents and wind will do on your day, or if you get to swim at all.  (→ See the post about my own Gibraltar Straits swim Oct. 2012)

Video

On Monday, Sept. 16th, 2013, Abhejali Bernadova from Zlin, Czech Republic, fastest swimmer in our international English Channel relay 2009, English Channel solo swimmer 2011 and Manhattan Island Finisher 2012, became the 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar – in a very good 4 hours 35 minutes. Which made her the 3rd Czech Strait woman to do so – and the fastest of them! Conditions were less than ideal, windforce 3-4 most of the way – the AGNEC certificate says windforce 4 – and on the video the waves and whitecaps of the first hours are quite impressive compared to my own swim in 2012. Luckily everyone had taken seasickness pills – so seasickness only became a problem when they went dolphin watching (again) a few days later. Sunday, when a leftover team from the week before got to swim, was still sunny and calm (the photo at the top was taken on Sunday), but on Monday, on swim day, even though only windforce 2 was predicted, the Straits showed a different face.

Not easy, but very beautiful

Abhejali was still very lucky:
1. She got to swim at all (it is not rare for swimmers to come and not get a shot at all due to the weather).
2. She had an early morning start at 8 a.m, and the current – although unfavourable at the start – was not very strong near Africa. On the way back the pilot measured the current 5 km off Tarifa – and it had become basically unswimmable!
3. Abhejali had great company: not only her helpers and of course the boat pilots, but lots of dolphins! On one video she keeps swimming without looking up for quite a while – because she was looking at the dolphins swimming only a few meters below her. When a huge container boat passed, dolphins were surfing on its big bow waves! Her helpers saw them everywhere. “I had wanted to swim with dolphins,” she said, “and it worked!”

Map-Abhejali

On the website of ACNEC there is a link where you can follow the tracker of the pilot boats, Columba Uno or Columba Dos

In the first hour she only swam 2 km due to the strong currents (almost full moon), but after 2 hours she was told in 20 min. she would be half way – so she was able to pick up speed. One shoulder soon started to hurt from swimming in the waves – which she had not been able to practice in training – and pain killers did not help very much.

Finish Abhejali Gibraltar Straits“It was not easy, but it was very beautiful,” Abhejali said after her swim.

What will be next?, I asked her. Catalina, Cook Straits – or any other of the 7 Oceans swims? Maybe later, she says. She would love to swim from Europe to Asia (the Bosporus – an even shorter swim). “But now I’d also love to go back to running a little”, she says – a 24 hour and 100 km champion in her country, and lover and long time co-organizer of the World Harmony/Peace Run.

→ Videos of Abhejali swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, Sept. 16, 2013

→ more Photos

Link to ACNEG – the organisation for Strait of Gibraltar swims (swim list is not up to date on the website!)

→ Abhejali and myself at the IMSHOF ceremony in Long Beach, California, September 2012

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Cuba to Florida – the Impossible Dream made a reality!

Huge Congratulations to Diana Nyad! Never too old to chase your dreams!

I believe in dreaming big. y for Diana Nyad - Cuba to Florida 2013 – Diana Nyad

5 attempts, spread out over 35 years, were needed until she finally made her dream come true and wrote history – with tremendous willpower, determination, patience, vision, faith, dedication and an absolute never-give-up-attitude! In “only” 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds (she expected to swim around 80 hours), supported by favourable currents and a huge team of helpers but without sleep or rest, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad conquered the approx. 103 miles (166 km) from Cuba to Florida – at age 64! Reaching Key West, Florida on Sept. 2nd 2013, around 2 p.m. local time, she became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage after Susie Maronie did it back in 1997 protected (and aided) by a cage.

After her 3 recent defeats in 2011 and 2012, when she was forced to stop due to life-threatening box jellyfish stings, and after 2 failed attempts by faster and younger accomplished long distance swimmers Chloe McCardel and Penny Palfrey, many thought her dream was simply impossible to realise. But Diana was determined to give it a last try and again put everything into it – body, mind, heart and soul. Plus creativity and inventiveness. And with the help of an amazing team of specialists in many fields and believers in her vision including individual sponsoring from all over the world now everything seemed to come together. Even Mother Nature seemed to send her blessings, letting her swim in an almost strait line supported by the currents, in mostly calm seas and with only one small thunderstorm during the first night. Her main problem this time was sickness – the difficulty to keep feedings down.

Her mantra: “Find a way”

Diana did not swim completely according to English Channel rules, but her use of a mask and suit to protect herself against deadly box jelly fish especially at night, allowing herself to be touched, and using a streamer to help her swim in a straight line, does not necessarily take away from her accomplishment, which included incredible amounts of solitary training hours – it rather shows her determination and creativity to find a way to reach her goal.

“I have three messages”

Barely able to speak with exhaustion and a swollen mouth after her arrival on her “Other Shore”, she still had 3 messages to offer:

  1. we should never ever give up;
  2. you are never too old to chase your dreams;
  3. it looks like a solitary sport but it is a team.

Diana-Nyad-Cuba-Florida-Swim2

 

Diana Nyad - Open Water Swimming Conference Long Beach 2012

Holding the Peace Torch with Diana Nyad at the Global Open Water Swimming Conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Sept. 2012

 

 

 

 

 

More in many articles and videos:

Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, the Hemingway Marina commodore who helped organize the Cuba side of Nyad’s multiple attempts, is quoted by USA today:
Diana-Nyad-Other-Shore“More than the athletic feat, she wants to send a message of peace, love, friendship and happiness … between the people of the United States and Cuba,” he said.
Shortly (end of September), Diana Nyad is releasing her feature-length documentary film, The Other Shore, about her “jaw-dropping journey” to manifest her → Xtreme Dream.

“The fullness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.”Sri Chinmoy

Also interesting to read:

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