Tag Archives: Self-transcendence

Finding Peace and Harmony Through Running – An Interview

I recently gave an interview to Emily Turner (see her blog Thoughts Showcase), who is studying Media at Weston College. Here are my responses to her questions.

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What’s your name, age, and where are you from? 

Rasmivan Mark Collinson, 47 years young, originally from Penzance, Cornwall, now residing in Bristol. My birth name is Mark, however, my spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy gave me a spiritual  / soul’s name of Rasmivan. A spiritual name reflects the qualities of that person’s soul. Rasmivan means “bearer of rays”, and another name for the sun and the moon; it also refers to a deity of the universe.

Can you give me a basic outline of what it is that you do?

I have studied meditation with Sri Chinmoy, my Guru since 2004 until his passing in 2007, and I’m still an active member of the worldwide Sri Chinmoy Centre. Guru is a Sanskrit word that means ‘he who illumines’. I have always enjoyed running, but it was only in 2006 that I ran my first marathon. I then steadily progressed into ultra running and ran my first 24 Hour Race in 2009. In April 2013 I ran my first 6 Day Race – the Self-Transcendence 6 Day Race in New York. I run for the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. I’m simply an amateur runner on a spiritual path.

When did you start running and how did you get involved? 

I started road running when I was about 15. I use to have some old non-descript trainers and one early morning (6am) I went out and ran around the streets around Penzance.  I enjoyed the stillness and peace of those early morning runs before school/college.  In those early days it was a way I could relax and have that sense of flow where nothing really mattered. Having a stammer / stutter as a teenager brought with it unrelenting fears in any speaking situation and low self-esteem on top of the usual teenage angst. Running was my release valve. The poem below better explains it.


In the 1980s, road running was only just taking off here in the UK so where I lived there was not a running club but there was an Athletics Club in Camborne, which had an outdoor 400m track, but I couldn’t afford to get there and at the time my parents didn’t own a car. I was never coached and just picked up things from reading running books and Runner’s World magazine. As you can imagine my enthusiasm for running so much, progressing to running twice a day had a few repercussions and really I wasn’t training as well as I ought to with such misguided knowledge and application. That led to numerous overuse injuries, predominantly shin splints that restricted my running. I never had the confidence and had so much self-doubt that I was really any good that I never took the opportunity to be coached. I had a few friends who were far better runners than me who invited me along to run with them, as they were coached to regional and national standard, but I dismissed it as I didn’t think I was good enough. Looking back I should have taken that opportunity as perhaps I had potential and that could have been developed. But, I lacked any inking of self-belief. In a way this was as a result of having a stammer / stutter since the age of 8. And that’s a whole story in itself. And then in my late teens, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t run, I got to a stage that it was even painful to walk, and I drifted into my other group of friends who went out drinking and clubbing, as you do, to feel part of that social circle. The discipline and enjoyment of running became sporadic for a number of years until my energies were renewed when I became a student of Sri Chinmoy in 2004.


What or who inspired you to start running?

When I was young I was a great admirer of Steve Ovett, Seb Coe and Steve Cram who were very talented middle distance runners, and then watching the first London Marathon on TV inspired me. It was like, I want to do that, and I can do that. But that inspiration ebbed and flowed and at times it was just a flicker.

My renewed inspiration to pick up running from those earlier years came from an inner urge to change my lifestyle of alcohol and smoking that had become increasingly dominant in my 20s and 30s. I was not a happy person and I had a feeling that I needed to change.  Then in my mid 30s, in 2004 I started meditating and became a disciple / student of a spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy. His promotion of running in general, ultra running and self-transcendence hit a chord with me. He said:

If we run, we see our capacities becoming fully manifested. Previously our capacities were dormant; they did not function inside us. But when we run, we bring to the fore our hidden capacities and are able to do something and become something …

A runner brings forward his capacity and becomes something. Then we see some champion runners, and he gets the inspiration to try to become an excellent runner. Perhaps he will one day excel and go beyond them. So there are always higher goals even after we have become something. Once we reach our first goal, we have to run towards a higher goal.

 Run and become.

Become and run.

Run to succeed in the outer world.

Become to proceed in the inner world”. [1]

Self-transcendence is the concept of making personal progress in different fields – physical, mental spiritual. Self-transcendence means we seek to exceed our previous achievements and extend our capacities.

“Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves.” – Sri Chinmoy

How have you had to adapt your lifestyle in terms of what you eat etc? 

Being on a spiritual path has its own set of rules and Sri Chinmoy advocated his disciples to eat a vegetarian diet, and to abstain from alcohol, smoking and drugs – the exact opposite of what I used to do! It took a period of 6 months to adapt and adopt this new lifestyle. At one point I was attempting to follow two paths – the spiritual one and remnants of my old life, but after New Year’s Eve of 2004, after drinking and smoking too much, it dawned on me you cannot split yourself and attempt to have your cake and eat it so to speak. I was only deluding myself and not being true to the person I ultimately wanted to become. It was all about transformation and making progress. So now after nearly 12 years, I don’t miss the drinking culture – I’m glad I don’t have to experience the lethargy and hangover after an over exuberant night; I was a bit of a party animal, and could never go out just for a few pints.

Being on a spiritual path has its challenges participating in everyday life. But, Sri Chinmoy wished his students to fully engage with the everyday and outer world whilst being on a spiritual path. His view was that meditating alone up in a Himalayan cave will not be beneficial to the world and assist in transforming the world’s consciousness. You try to follow the teachings of your spiritual Master. Running long distances and competing in ultra running and multi-day events enables me to live more in the moment and go beyond my perceived capacities. It also gives me immense joy and I’m a happier person for it. It’s just a different way of approaching life where you are guided by your spiritual Master to enable you to listen more closely to the dictates of your soul.

What’s been the best experience so far? 

In terms of my running experiences it has to be being part of an international team when I did 6 months of the European leg of the World Harmony Run in 2006 and the whole USA route in 2010. Also very special was organising the south west route of the GB run 2011.

In terms of my best race experiences it has to be the 72 hour race in Phoenix in 2013/14 when I was second male with 233 miles and my first 24 hour race in 2009 when I ran 112 miles.

Across the Years 2013-14 72 Hour Race

My 24 Hour Self-Transcendence Track Race Experiences 2009 & 2010 – Success, Failure and Progress

What’s the most important or significant thing you’ve learnt from your journey? 

ArtPics - Photography © Jake Olson

It is all about the journey and not ultimately about the destination. There is so much that I have gained and continue to gain from being on a spiritual path and participating in these ultra running races. I think ultimately, what Sri Chinmoy taught me, is to never, never, never give up, and always believe in your spiritual Master. There are so many stories and experiences I could tell you – one special instance is that of a Compassion Miracle of my Guru’s protection (A Spiritual Master’s Protection). I was running, hit by a car on a zebra crossing and I walked away with simply a tiny scratch on my arm. Endurance events are challenging and they push you out of your comfort zone, but ultimately from these experiences you grow and become stronger.

I read recently a quote on Facebook, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”. This totally makes sense to me.

What is the most rewarding part of this experience?

I think it has to be eventually having a sense of contentment and happiness. Through the inner and outer challenges of ultra running life can make sense and become clearer. Scott Jurek, a famous American ultra runner made the comment that, “Running is not easy and it’s challenging. It’s that kind of good discomfort that cleanses us”.  When you’ve had the perfect run, you’ve cleared your soul.


What has been your biggest achievement? 

That’s a hard question to answer, and I think in terms of my race performances it has to be finishing as second male with 233 miles in the 72 hour Across the Years Race in Phoenix, USA in 2013/14.

Are there any negatives? 

I can’t think of any.

What and when is your next exciting adventure?  

This year the European leg of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run begins on 24th February in Porto and finishes on 8thOctober in Rome, and I will be part of an international team completing the whole European route.

In a world that is ever more connected and yet at the same time people feeling disconnected, this year gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my spirituality, with so many people and myself.  It will also enable me to return to the joys of running for peace and harmony that feeds my soul.


The simple act of running to promote peace and harmony is a way of making a difference by touching the lives of so many people and taking their hopes for a more peaceful and harmonious world to the next town/village, the next city, the next country and the whole world. Many drops of water make an ocean.


I fly out to Porto, Portugal on 23rd February and over the last 18 months of thinking and planning about the Peace Run it is finally reaching the time for me to leave my ‘normal’ life and embark on a great adventure. A few months ago I suppose I was getting cold feet, and had the usual doubts and fears on whether I was making the right decision to be on the Peace Run for such an extended time.  But, when I compared my experiences on previous Peace Runs and thinking about it sat in front of a computer at work writing another report, then it is a no brainer. Life is about seizing wondrous opportunities and living a life with no regrets. I’m definitely going to remember events and experiences that happen on the Peace Run that will remain with me forever. I couldn’t tell you what I did in the office last week, so that tells you something.


Calvin and Hobbes Running

What advice would you give someone else wanting to run professionally?

Well, I’m not in the position to give advice as I don’t run professionally. That’s something that I’m not qualified to comment on.  However, there are general aspects that I’ve learned that can be given to anyone who wishes to be successful and gain contentment in anything what they do.


  1. Believe in yourself. Have self-belief that anything is possible and never, never give up. Let no one tell you that you can’t do it, or it is not possible. It is important to be your own person.
  2. Dare to be different. I always remember Daley Thompson saying, “The only way to make a difference is to be different and do what the others are not doing ………  I train twice on Christmas Day because I know the others aren’t training at all, so it gives me two extra days”.
  3. Surround yourself with those that can nurture you. Be that friends and family who can believe in you and for any young sportsperson to become professional it is to find that coach that can keep you moving in the right direction and achieving those goals. Being part of a running club will help to structure your training, maintain a discipline and help to monitor your progress. Training with others inspires you to become better.
  4. Have a Goal. The anticipation of attempting something that you have prepared weeks, months or years for adds richness to life. Life can thrive in the presence of big goals and it can nourish the heart and soul.
  5. Adversity. Overcoming challenges makes you stronger. Not everything goes to plan, but it tends to change your life in many ways, most for the better.
  6. Simplicity. Keep your training simple and don’t over complicate it when it is not needed. Stay committed to your training plan. Be patient and don’t expect to be the best right away.
  7. Rest and recovery. Never underestimate the importance of rest to let you physically recover and mentally recharge. Nutrition is so important and helps your body to recover after races and intense training sessions. Keeping a sense of perspective and balance is so important, and listening to your body and intuition is key.


[1] Sri Chinmoy (2008) The Inner Running and the Outer Running – Yogic Secrets for Better Running, p.13, New York: Aum Publications.

Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race, Tooting Bec, London, 21/22 September 2013

Individual self-transcendence

Collectively inspires

Humanity at large

Sri Chinmoy

The Start

The Start

For the past 4 years I have run in this race, but due to injury (which will be a whole another post about my reflections and tribulations on this – coming up shortly) I could not run, but instead I helped out as one of the lap counters.


In a way I have come full circle.  My fascination into ultra running started when I joined the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres and was invited to be a lap counter during the 2004 Race.  At the time, although I was an enthusiastic runner, I just could not comprehend why anyone would want to run for 24 hours, let alone around a 400m track!


However, through each successive year I came to fully understand the need to go beyond that which you think you are capable of.  I like to think I’m an exponent of this now, but, I’m still learning.

So, it was great to be back in the lap counting seat and I had the great pleasure of lap counting amongst one of my three runners, the legendary Geoff Oliver for the first ten hours. I was back again at the race at 5:00am to lap count another three different runners who all achieved over 100 miles.

Geoff Oliver

Geoff Oliver

Geoff covered a total of 380 laps of the track to record a final distance of 152.295kms / 94 miles 1108 yards to set a new world male over 80 record  

There were some amazing performances and the Race was full of every emotion you can think of. Full Race Report and photo gallery can be viewed here: Race Report and Photos

Marco Consani (154 miles; 248km) and Fionna Cameron (134 miles; 216km) finished first and second respectively and it was their first 24 hour race – absolutely remarkable.

Consani and Cameron power up the ultra runnings.

Marco Consani

Marco Consani

Marco kindly commented:

I am so glad that when I decided to do my first 24 hour event that I decided to run this one. This event is fantastic and so well organised. Shankara and her team looked after all of the runners before, during and after to make sure we all had good runs. No wonder people keep coming back for more.
I couldn’t recommend the Tooting 24 enough to anyone wanting a go at 24 hour racing.

Fionna Cameron

Fionna Cameron

Ann Bath (aged 65, finished with 102 miles; 164km) commented:

Ann Bath

Ann Bath

An absolute honour to be part of such an awesome race this year, my 3rd time at Tooting and the support from everyone just never ceases to amaze me.  From the lap counters, aid station helpers, officials, and the supporters of other runners cheering you on too!.  It  just gives you such strength to do achieve your absolute best possible, and it helps hugely through any bad patches.  It was my first 24 hour 3 years ago and I would encourage anyone to not be scared of attempting it, and age means nothing, it is the mind that has to be even stronger than your legs!

It was great to see my friend, Abichal complete 85 miles (136km). The photo shows him on the final minutes of the Race. Everyone tends to have the biggest smiles at the end – a mixture of bliss, happiness and relief.



Patrick Quinn - An Irish family occasion

Patrick Quinn – An Irish family occasion

Group happiness for Chris McCarthy completing 106 miles

Group happiness for Chris McCarthy completing 106 miles

Alex Riches celebrating with his family after reaching his goal of 100 miles

Alex Riches celebrating with his family after reaching his goal of 100 miles

It is amazing how such an arduous task such as completing a 24 hour race can bring so much joy and happiness to so many people – runners (of course, especially at the end), lap counters, helpers, supporters and family and friends. It was a privilege to be at the race again to witness this.John Turner inspiring the next generation

With God’s grace I hope I can run in the race next year.


It always seems impossible until it’s done. Nelson Mandela

Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race 2013 Results


Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team

My 24 Hour Self-Transcendence Track Race Experiences 2009 & 2010 – Success, Failure and Progress

Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race 2009

Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race 2009




In every way. 

The determination in your heroic effort will permeate your mind and heart even after your success or failure is long forgotten.

Sri Chinmoy

An update – 3 years on

I wrote this article originally back in November 2010 for Multidays Those of you who didn’t read the article, then this is a second chance, and for also me to post something of my own writing on my website.

The 24 Hour Self-Transcendence Track Race takes place each year at the Tooting Bec Athletic Track, London. Since running my first 24 hour race in 2009 I have run at Tooting Bec for the past four consecutive years. This year the race will be held on 21st and 22nd September. Sadly, due to injury I will not be running it this year. I will certainly miss the experiences as each race always throws up something new; it is never the same. That’s what makes it exciting and enthralling for me; and the sense of accomplishment once that horn sounds at midday on Sunday to signal the end of the race.

Part 1: First Time  – October 2009

I knew roughly what to expect coming into the 24-hour race, but still for me it was going into unknown territory. The farthest I had run to date was in August when I completed the Sri Chinmoy 47 mile race in New York in just under than 8 hours. I struggled with that in the later stages. However, my mindset approaching the day of the 24-hour race was very positive and I had this inner feeling that everything was going to be all right. I had learned some invaluable lessons from the Barry 40 mile track race in March and in the Sri Chinmoy 47 mile race in August. Over a 12-month period I had addressed some significant biomechanical issues and had strengthened key leg muscles with a programme of resistance training in the gym and worked on my core stability. I guess I had done everything I could do and I was ready to step up to the mark. The way I was feeling days before and on the race day was one of surrender, gratitude, determination and absence of fear and doubt. With God’s grace I knew I could reach my target of 100 miles.

Prior to the race I got invaluable advice from my friend Abichal who as always is a great source of practical advice and inspiration. I had a simple race strategy – on every hour to walk for 5 or 10 minutes. I broke the race up into quarters so I would be able to monitor my progress and attempt to achieve 25 miles every quarter. I knew this was achievable. I said to myself constantly, “I can do this”.

Focused and determined

Focused and determined

Although it is a long race, emotions and experiences become a blur as you are always constantly moving and trying to move forward. I won’t give an hour by hour account of the race as that will only bore you, and to be honest I can’t really remember much. At the start I just felt I didn’t want to be anywhere else other than doing this race, right there, right now. Being on that start line felt so right and I just knew I was going to have a wonderful journey.

Inevitably there were a few challenges during the race, but like Sri Chinmoy said,

“What is a challenge,

If not a friend

In disguise

To strengthen us?”

The recurring challenge I did have were a few stomach problems, but that did not last, and it was more of an inconvenience, and once I knew what the problem was, I was able to resolve it with a hot pot of rice pudding and honey. Ambrosia never tasted so good, along with a weak, sweet cup of tea! I’ve learnt that sometimes the simplest things are the best. The energy drinks and bars have their place, but sometimes they just don’t do the job for me.

Looking good and relaxed

Looking good and relaxed

By the half way point I had reached 60 miles, and I was feeling really strong and the walk and drink, and just relax and have fun every hour seemed to be working very well. A few of the runners had told me that if you reach 60 miles by midnight you should get your 100 miles. I was aware that I was running further than I had ever run before, and I was rather surprised that I was not experiencing any energy issues, tiredness or even muscular tightness. Throughout the race I was always trying to stay focused and relaxed. When some tightness did arise in my feet, I was aware of what they were, and simply loosened the laces and applied more lubricant on the toes to prevent any blisters. Through the early hours I was inwardly chanting my own personal mantras that work for me and that helped me to remain focused. By the early hours of the morning I was still feeling strong and in a good consciousness. I just felt so joyful and so grateful having the opportunity to be doing this race. I thought at some point I would get bored and need some stimulation by listening to some music, but I didn’t need it. Inwardly it seemed that I had my own inner music playing. That kept me ticking over. I think I reached 100 miles by around 09.15am, so I had achieved my goal of 100 miles.

Running through the night

Running through the night

However, as Sri Chinmoy wrote,

You can always do more. Today’s goal is only the starting point for tomorrow’s new dawn. At every moment we are transcending our previous achievements………our goal should be our own progress, and progress itself is the most illumining experience.”

My focus was now to try to reach 111 miles. I had about 2 and half hours to do 11 miles and I was slowing down considerably; I was doing between 3 and 4 miles per hour, so I worked it out that I had to step it up and get moving to reach my new goal, and really experience self transcendence.

With about 10 minutes to go to the end of the race I completed 111 miles. I did it I thought. But there was still time to run further. Encouraged by the lap counters to squeeze in another mile I summoned up enough energy and willed my legs to open up and finished very strongly to finally complete 112.10 miles.

At the end of the film Babe when the sheep pig wins the competition and the crowd rapturously applauds, the farmer looks down on Babe and just says, “That will do pig, that will do”, and smiles. You know that all the pig wanted to do was please his master, well that was how I felt at the end of the 24 hour race. A job well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Award ceremony

Award ceremony

I vowed that I would run the Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 24 Hour Track Race next year.

Part 2: Second Time Around – September 2010

Enjoying the moment

Enjoying the moment

Second time around competing in a 24-hour race you would think it would be easier. However, every race is different and because of random factors and personal circumstances it brings its own challenges – some out of your control whilst others where you can choose to do something about it. And sometimes you just make the wrong decisions and fail but that’s all part of the experience. As Sri Chinmoy poignantly wrote,

“What is failure?

Failures are the

Pillars of success”

I came into my second Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 24 Hour Track race with more experience, feeling stronger, lighter and more confident. On the downside though I was carrying a few niggles, recovering from shin splints, and feeling tired after spending 5 months on the road running through America as part of an international team relay called the World Harmony Run (World Harmony Run USA 2010), and legs feeling tired from the previous three weeks after completing a marathon and two days later running a PB in the Sri Chinmoy 47 mile race in New York.

The lead up to the race hadn’t been ideal. Running as part of a relay team in America I hadn’t been able to get any long runs under my belt and my running was feeling a bit one dimensional. I hadn’t the luxury to do specific 24 hour race training in the form of tempo runs and speed work or gym work to get me to a performance that I would have envisaged. From the previous year as I had unexpectedly done so well I might have set an unrealistic target of 200km for this year. I planned to try to run 6 miles per hour for the first half and attempt to run 5 miles per hour for the next 12 hours. In my mind I thought this was achievable. I planned to have a five-minute walk break every two hours. It all sounds so simple on paper!

Looking strong

Looking strong

Under the circumstances what was achievable and what was actually achieved were two different things. During a race, events happen that in order to continue the whole distance it is best to surrender to what occurs and change your tack or mindset. Right from the beginning I had this feeling that it was going to be much tougher than last year. A few weeks leading up to the race my running lacked fluidity and certain muscles were not properly functioning. Things felt out of synch. From the first hour in the race my right glute muscle tightened up and this affected my running form. To counteract this I consciously tried to relax and keep my running as easy and smooth as possible. I maintained a fairly good pace for the first four hours and then I started to annoyingly suffer from blisters. My complacency missed the crucial detail of wearing the twin-layered socks that worked so well for me the previous year. I had instead opted for the long compression socks to assist my shin splints, but they were totally unsatisfactory at keeping my feet blister free. So for the next few hours I had to regularly stop to burst the newly formed blisters, treat them and tape them up and readjust the plasters on the old blisters. They didn’t hurt, but I was just annoyed with myself that I hadn’t paid enough attention to my feet; basic schoolboy error of ultra running. Whether blisters hurt or not you do unconsciously tend to change your running form slightly and that makes your running less efficient – you’re expending unnecessary energy.

Still smiling

Still smiling

By the half way stage I was behind my schedule by 10 miles. I knew I would not be able to make up those miles and the way I was feeling it was going to be a struggle to last the 24 hours. The legs felt tired, not just from the previous 12 hours, but I was feeling that all the World Harmony Run running and the two races 3 weeks previous were starting to catch up with me now. I was not firing on all cylinders to put it mildly, and fears and doubts started to enter my mind.

In the early hours of the morning I was really struggling. I was going through a bad patch. There was a fleeting thought that crossed my mind for a second that I should give up. However, the next thought was Sri Chinmoy’s words repeating over and over again inside me, “Never, never give up!” and,

“There is only one perfect road

And that road is ahead of you,

always ahead of you.”

Feeling very tired and struggling

Feeling very tired and struggling

Although I knew I wouldn’t achieve what I wished to achieve, the most important thing was not to give up, keep persevering and summon my determination to keep moving forward.

Looking on the positive, other aspects of the race had gone better than last year. By taking my own food and knowing what foods worked for me I avoided the stomach problems of the previous year. That was a bonus not going to the toilet so often, however on the down side I drunk too much liquid during the night and had to constantly stop to urinate – it was like every 20 minutes for the two hours. That did disrupt my flow (not my pee flow!) and I just couldn’t get into any rhythm. I was finding it so much hard work, and was feeling the race was an ever increasing battle. At one point I remember I felt pretty miserable, low, cold, tired and was really not enjoying it, but I knew I had to remain as cheerful as possible and feel gratitude for being given the opportunity to have these invaluable experiences in this race. Surrendering to these experiences was the best way for me to cope. There was a good reason why I was having these challenging experiences. Slowly running through the night I looked forward to the approaching dawn.

There are aspects of the race that help you to continue and not give up. One important aspect of this type of race that sometimes gets overlooked is the pervading consciousness of oneness you feel. You truly feel oneness with your fellow runners and a sense of progression and dynamism. There are hilarious and amusing moments in the race that lighten each individual’s pain and struggle. There are also the lap counters and helpers that you build up a rapport with who are there to help you achieve the best you can do.

As the race wore on I was walking more than running, but by one step at a time I was glad to get to the100 mile mark. That was a satisfying achievement for me and eventually at the end of the 24 hours I had completed just over 104 miles.  It was a huge effort to get there, but ultimately it was about the progress I had made and my own inner journey.

At the end of a 24-hour race you sense that everyone feels that something really special has happened and each runner has inwardly and outwardly made so much progress. The smiles on the faces and the sense of relief of everyone tell their own stories.


A second Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race finishers trophy to add to my one from 2009

“At every moment

We must value not only

Our successes and


But also the efforts

We make”. 

Sri Chinmoy

Useful links

Sri Chinmoy AC Ultradistance Events