Papua New Guinea 9 February: Port Moresby

A fulfilling first day...

We had an early start this morning, departing the Solomon Islands for the next stage in our adventure...

Our good friends have come to see us off at the airport - Regina Lepping, who works with the UNDP Peace-Building Fund, Elvis Kikolo, the Schools Inspector for Honiara City Coucil and Glins Clay, the Cheief Peace Officer with Honiara City Council. We are joined by Garry Lepping, Assistant Commissioner for Scouting in the Solomon Islands, and yet another member of Regina's illustrious family! Maverick Seda from the Pacific Youth against Corruption also came out to say goodbye.

Elvis holds the torch with Garry's daughter.

Presenting Garry with a Certificate of Appreciation and one of Sri Chinmoy's artworks exploring different aspects of Peace - this one on the theme of Perfection.

More well-wishers hold the torch...

...and then we land in Papua New Guinea!

We were having a little something to eat before we started running, when we had the good fortune to run into Biga Lebasi, who is one of Papua New Guinea's oldest journalist, having served in that capacity since 1965 - older than the newspapers he writes for! He had who had just come in for his afternoon coffee and cake, but he put it on hold so he could interview us and find out more about our run.

Biga's youthfulness and energy inspired us all - a perfect start to our run here in PNG! He has been battling cancer for the past few years, but the doctors have told him that because of his optimism, his life span will be far longer - he may outlive us all yet!

And then we ran up and down the beach, offering beachgoers a chance to hold to Torch and make their wish for peace....

Amalendu does a quick refilling of the Torch while Nirbhasa explains a little bit about the Run.

It is a pretty windy day, we have to run beside the water to avoid all the sand being whipped up....

"Peace is an inner awakening, and this inner awakening we must share with the rest of the world." - Sri Chinmoy, Peace Run Founder

Some encouragement from the beach maintenance crew...

Pastor Sammy holds the torch and shares his thoughts on Peace...

We bump into the crew from the national television station NBC, and do a short and spontaneous interview - lets see what happens!

...and then on to our next event out beside the airport...

The Port Moresby Road Runners club have been organising races for the past 40 years. We were fortunate to join them for their weekly Saturday night race - a 2k and 7k event.

A big thanks fo Simon Nuttley for inviting us out, and letting us talk a bit about the run and letting us pass the torch around...

A photo with the race starter and timekeeper - before the start, the starter asks us all to shout out 'Peace for PNG!!!!'

A lot of the Aussies are familiar with the athletic events that the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team put on back home...

...and then we are off!!!!

The 7k race takes us up a pretty steep hill...

some encouragement from the locals....

Vaibhava runs for a while with the Torch...

...before passing it on to Akrura, who is coming the opposite way.

At the turnaround point, we touch this gate - the security guards act as impromptu marshals and make sure we touch it before we turn back...

Akrura crosses the finish line with some new-found friends.

The four team members...

Everyone is all smiles after the run...

After the run, we really want to go to the beach to cool off, and some of the runners kindly drop us off there...

We meet Matthew, our host, who wants to try and swim to the AIPAC centre from a point around 500m away in less than 15 minutes. Amalendu goes with him to keep him company. It was almost completely dark so they wander off-course for a little bit before righting themselves. If you look closely, you can see them passing under the light....

Thomas completes the swim in exactly 15 minutes!

Nirbhasa takes the Peace Torch for a swim...

...and so ends a very fulfilling first day in Papua New Guinea!