Australia 23 July: Mackay, Qld - Marlborough, Qld

Running for Peace

The day started again with a school presentation. Today we were expected at the Sarina State School, where almost the entire school population of over 400 children were gathered into the gym hall.

They loved our song and dance rendition of the World Harmony Run song and joyfully participated. The children also proved quite expert at guessing the countries of our international runners and the cities of the Australian Peace Runners.

Joseph, one of the school captains, received our Certificate of Appreciation ...

... and the members of the school council came forward to hold the Peace Torch on behalf of the whole school.

When it was time for our traditional run with the Torch, Principal Wuanita Meryick made sure everybody lined up at the oval outside in perfect harmony. Wuanita’s life is wrapped up in the school as both her children are students and her husband is the groundsman. She runs a very smooth ship and made sure all aspects of our presentation rolled along nicely. We ran a lap, after which our German runner Samalya couldn’t contain himself and sprinted the second lap with the school’s fastest runners.

After all was said and done Wuanita and the school captains treated us to a very healthy and tasty morning tea, including fresh and dried fruit and delicious juice. Thank you Sarina State School for this wonderful reception!

Today proved to be a day of many meetings, most of them unplanned and spontaneous. First we met with a lovely Swiss family in Sarina, just after we finished our school meeting ...

The reason for them to visit the town was because one of the three daughters was also called Sarina!

Today we had a perfect day for running. The morning dew and the covered sky showed to us right away that we would have enjoyable movement on our kilometres.

Later on, while on the road, a light rain rather encouraged than scared us. A short gentle breeze came quickly to help us dry our soaked T-shirts, now embellished with little spots of black soot from the Torch. Thus, we’ve got sort of a Dalmatian look :)

The last couple of days we enjoyed very much the dramatic change of landscape ...

... the fresh grass along the road with its specific fragrance, which is growing further on into green bushes and forest ...

... and the interminable plantations of sugar cane are delighting our vision with their living beauty.

Our new team mate Aion is constantly increasing his daily mileage ...

... and still remains cheerful and playful.

Steve, still recovering from his last week long runs (preparing him for the marathon distance), is one of the team most reliable runners. His today’s aphorism was: Without suffering, no satisfaction!

Meanwhile, the girls team had left early from camp to get to our first school on time. Our tents were packed up and we were eating delicious eggs on toast by 7am thanks to the fabulous breakfast crew of Abhinabha and Samalya – if I could I would vote for them to be on breakfast duty every day!

Soon after we got on the road to drive the first 113km to Carmila State School. Most of the students were away at a sports carnival but 30 enthusiastic students cheered as we ran across the field to meet them ...

... they all wanted to know so much about the Peace Run. And even asked us to sing the song a second time with them before we left.

Liam, the Sports Captain, came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation.

After everyone was given a chance to hold the Torch ...

... we ran around their cross-country course, and boy they could run fast! We had to cut a few corners to keep up with them but they didn't seem to mind ...

... there were many students who thought it was a great idea to run around Australia on the Peace Run for their holidays and loved hearing that we have a school student with us from New Zealand.

Then back we went to the main road and started running from the BP Station, not knowing exactly how many km we would be running but as a ball park figure we would all be running about 14km each ...

... with no other ceremonies today it was a nice relaxing afternoon after our fast morning to get to the school on time.

The weather was perfect for running, overcast and a little cool ...

... we all enjoyed the change from the hot humid weather we had being having ...

... as our kms slowly ticked over the rain began – still, running in the rain is nice. The rest of the team would be all cooped up the van not wanting to stand in the rain then each time a runner came in they were expressing how much they enjoyed their run.

Having finished at Sarina State School and driven ahead to their starting point, our second boys team were by now on the road ...

For a moment today we were unsure if we were still in Queensland: the weather was so unexpectedly crisp, we almost felt cold for the first time in a very long while! The cloud cover combined with a strong breeze did provide excellent running conditions however.

A few km down the road, a car pulled over on the highway and a German family emerged, curious to what we were all about ...

... Silvie, Go (short for Gothardt) and their son Moritz were traveling through Australia towards Cairns ...

... after telling them about our event they were happy to greet Samalya who hails from Berlin and just happened to finish his 5km run right where they were chatting with us.

Last but not least we met with a lovely family from Tasmania: Gillian, Steve, Cate and Ruby Wallace were on a six week holiday and had just made a boat trip through the Whitsunday Islands. It was again Samalya who drew their attention as he came running by while they were waiting in their car for a traffic light. They asked a few questions about the Run and wholeheartedly cheered him on. Later Samalya ran into them again in a nearby roadhouse and we were able to take their picture ...

We not only met lovely members of the human race today, we encountered several prized species of the animal kingdom as well! That honour was mostly reserved for our star photographer Kaspars from Latvia, who on one 5km run saw three emus and one echidna. Much to his chagrin he didn’t have his camera with him as he happened to be running with the Torch. He did however later spot a live kangaroo later on and was able to capture it on film.

By now all our teams were nearly done for the day ...

Roos and I set off for the last run of the day, not sure exactly how far we would be running, but just happy to be out here. Drenched from the rain but warm from the running we happily dried off and jumped into the camper for the final drive to Marlborough ...

All of our teams had the same experience today ...

... the beautiful scenery of coastal Queensland filled us with joy and peace and inspired us to run mile after mile, all the way to our final destination of Marlborough, where we camped under the stars and a bright full moon.

Bayarkhuu holding the greeting card with encouraging and supporting words from his friends. Our amazing Mongolian friend set today a new record, personal and of the Relay: he alone covered a distance of 37.5 km! Actually, all the records until now belonged to him. Bravissimo!!!

Here we meet with Viv from Marlborough Motel and Van Park who kindly offered discounted sites for us for camping and even a place to plug in the camper!

Thank you so much Viv, for your kindness and also instructions to the local store. Here Teherah could buy a few last minute items for her gourmet dinner. It will be hard to go back to camping food after this meal!

Today some members of the Peace Run team caught up with the Canberra Capitals basketball team during one of their training sessions in Belconnen, Canberra ...

Alex Bunting, the Capitals Centre, Ali, a team mate, and Tony Jackson, the teams CEO, passed the torch around and posed for a photo with the runners.

The informal proceedings were cheerful and relaxed, appropriately held amidst the thud of basketballs echoing throughout the big hall as young enthusiasts trained for the next big game ...

... Alex (pictured holding the Torch) joined the team last year. 19 years old, she has travelled the world representing Australia at the U17 World Championships in France, U19 World Championships in Chile, and recently travelled to China to compete in the pre-World Championship tournament. Her enthusiasm and brightness were quite catching and a lovely reminder that peace can be found everywhere, even against the backdrop of 100 bouncing basketballs.