A pioneer in combining spirituality and sports, Sri Chinmoy felt that breaking the sub 2 hour barrier would have be a very significant victory for mankind, and many times over the years he would express his hope and his conviction that it would happen. Here is a selection of some of the things Sri Chinmoy said over the years:
"Name and fame in marathon running was first won for America by Frank Shorter. Frank Shorter really shook America out of its lethargy or complacent feeling. It was he who made the start. Now, people are running faster and faster. It will take at most five years, perhaps even less, for someone to run a marathon under two hours. How I wish that one of my disciples would do it! It is wishful thinking, but sometimes dreams come true. My disciples have an advantage because they have spirituality behind their running. If I were twenty years old, I would try it." 25 October 1982
"Often people say they will never run a marathon again. During or after the race they say that this is their last marathon. Then after four days they start thinking about their next marathon.
In ten or twenty years, people will regard the marathon the way we regard a ten-mile race today. People will consider forty miles or seventy miles or a hundred miles as long distance. Long distances will be as popular as the marathon is today. People will pay more attention to fifty-milers and hundred-milers.
Now people are doing so well in the marathon. In four or five years the best runners will run the marathon in under two hours. In twenty or thirty years people will run at a five-minute pace for fifty or a hundred miles. The children of people who are running the marathon now will run at the present marathon pace for thirty or forty miles, and then even farther. They will have such stamina. Sports are like that. Roger Bannister’s four-minute-mile record lasted for years. Then the hundred-metre record stayed for years. Jesse Owens’ long-jump record stayed for twenty years before it was broken by Bob Beamon. But ultimately all records are broken." 24 January 1983
"In the New York Marathon, the first mile is horrible for everybody. Then, from the second mile, the lead runners go really fast. This year Steve Jones ran 2:08:23, but Salazar’s record is still 13 seconds better. Somebody has to come from Africa and break the record. Under two hours — I envision it. Somebody will run under two hours." 6 November 1988
"My prophecy! Once I said that some day some runners would run the marathon in under two hours. A divine force spoke through me. Alas, something always reminds me inwardly. Again, while facing the Berlin Wall, I prophesied that in twenty-five years the Wall would be demolished and there would be one Berlin. In just two years, President Gorbachev fulfilled my desire! With regard to the marathon, God knows when it will happen; but still I maintain the same desire and the same promise that one day somebody will come, perhaps from Africa, to do it. It is not an impossible task.
One mile in under four minutes was a dream, and Roger Bannister manifested the dream. Now, how many people have run a mile in under four minutes? Someone has run in 3:44. When Roger Bannister ran in just under four minutes, the whole world adored him. Now someone has run two miles in under eight minutes. It is unimaginable! Like that we can do many things." 5 November 1997
Question: During the twenty-first century, will anybody break the two-hour marathon barrier?
Sri Chinmoy: How I wish the twenty-first century to prove my prophecy that someone will run a marathon in under two hours! For that I need a disciple who has implicit faith in me. I find it very difficult to believe that our human capacity is limited. Right now the world record for the marathon is 2:06. Just six minutes to reduce over twenty-six miles! Unfortunately, human beings always think, “My capacity, my capacity.” If the same world-class runners could say, “My capacity is coming from God. God is running in and through me,” and really mean it, then you would see surprising results. There are at least twenty world-class marathon runners. If they could have that kind of faith, you would hear in one month that the world record has been smashed.
...God has given each of us certain capacities. I may not be a runner, but somebody else may be a runner. I may be a singer, but somebody else may not be a singer. If anyone wants to increase his capacity in his own field, then he must have God-reliance, not self-reliance. Only then will his capacity become unlimited. Now our capacity is limited because we feel we are doing everything — we are taking this exercise and that exercise. We give ninety-nine per cent of the credit to what our mind is telling us and our life is prompting us to do. But if we can give one hundred per cent of the credit to God for whatever we are doing that is good and positive in our life, then our capacities will become unlimited. 25 February 1999 - Complete quote...
"Paul Tergat, the world’s fastest marathoner, covered the distance in two hours, four minutes. His record is four minutes over two hours, so my prediction is still hanging in mid-air! I am praying that one day he or somebody else will run under two hours. Whoever runs under two hours will be given by me a very special honour, plus I shall meet with his plane fare and all his expenses, whether he comes from Kenya or anyplace else. I shall honour him most lovingly, cheerfully and proudly. Who knows, who knows? There will be someone in the near future. I do not want to say in the distant future — no! In the near future, someone will be able to fulfil my prediction." 14 October 2005
These quotes were excerpted from Sri Chinmoy's books Run and Become, Become and Run, parts 12 and 13; Sri Chinmoy answers, part 24; The Feet of the Supreme's Compassion and My Golden Children. These books are available to read in full at srichinmoylibrary.com; hardback editions of the Run and Become, Become and Run and Sri Chinmoy answers series can be purchased on Amazon.