United States 8 July: Minneapolis, MN - St. Paul, MN

Running with our friends to St. Paul

An enthusiastic gathering of runners at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis this morning for a group run through the beautiful park system with lakes and ruivers and eventually crossing the Mississippi River into St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kshema hands the Peace Torch to Alexandra and her daughter Anika to lead us in the first part of the run.

And we're off!

It was a scenic run with lots of shade as we crossed some rivers, streams and bridges.

A good friend Ismail leads us with the Torch for a stretch as Hilda and Dan Ripka, all local runners, show us their favorite routes through the Minneapolis park system.

Somewhere near halfway we had to say goodbye to our dear friends Anika and her mom, Alexandra.

Along the way we also met many friendly and curious people enjoying this beautiful day in this wonderful park.

Yuyudhan, our local coordinator and illustrious host while we are here in Minneapolis, fills the Torch a number of times as we spend 4 hours running and stopping to meet people along the way.

This local gentleman was thrilled to share the Peace Torch while walking his dog.

Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park, one of our rest stops along the very scenic route today.

Yatkara, our official photographer for the rest of our trip, finally gets into a photo with the Minnehaha Falls as his backdrop.

Quite a few very friendly and encouraging locals shared their goodwill with us today.

Putu was seriously thinking about renting a cart for the rest of this very long run.

The local TV station, KSTP came out to report on our journey today.

Interviewing our Mongolian runner, Sarankhuu.

The running continues and so does our chance encounters with wonderful supportive local folks.

Arpan and Danny Ripka, two old veterans of ultra-running, share the Torch with one of his running friends. He paced her to her first sub-five hour marathon last year and she was thrilled to accidentally see him running with us as she was out n her own run this morning.

Hilda, a local runner who also trains with Danny, pulls us along at her relatively faster pace.

Julie Hoch from Toledo, Ohio, was quite surprised to meet us here as she also was planning to meet us in a week or so in Toledo as well.

Another local runner who actually changed his direction of his run to carry the Torch with us for a while.

We finally reached the mighty Mississippi, the longest river in the U.S. The bridge we ran over is a Sri Chinmoy Peace Bridge, dedicated on June 25, 1991. On this sign is a quote by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run, "A bridge means oneness, the establishment Oneness-Peace."

Looking down at this mighty river which runs all the way to the Gulf Of Mexico from norhtern Minnesota, very close to Canada.

Yuyudhan, who had been driving along servicing the runners to this point, finally gets to join in and run the rest of the way into St. Paul, twin city to Minneapolis.

He goes out of his way to share the Torch with a woman and her young child, an friendly dog as well.

More locals wanting to share their goodwill with the Peace Torch.

We met another local runner along the way, Jenna, who cheerfully decided to extend her run and finish with us in St. Paul.

Hilda and Danny, two running partners who train in this park everyday, helped us the whole way running with the Torch and giving us directions so we would not get lost.

After four hours on the roads and scenic pathways through the parks to St. Paul, these tired runners pose for one last photo in front of this beautiful Cathedral.

Upon returning to the home of Yuyudhan Hoppe we took a short rest and refreshed ourselves with his invigorating and tasty homemade Kombucha drink.

After a rest and some lunch at the Hoppe house, we were fortunate to have been invited to the Somali Museum of Minnesota here in Minneapolis.

Gabby Drummond was our wonderful tour guide who explained everything about the history and culture of the eastern African nation of Somalia. Here she is explaining the western alphabet that they adopted in 1972. Before that most of their communication was with the spoken word, stories, songs and poetry.

A number of rooms displayed the dress and artifacts of parts of the Somalian culture.

Some of the traditional skin and hide drums native to Somalia.

Yuyudhan impresses Gabby with his playing of the Conch shell. Until now she never really heard one playing live.

Atul tries out his chops on the conch as well.

Checking out the percussion instruments with one of the Somalian volunteers here.

Pujari tests out a traditional hut made out or grass and other natural wood and ropes.

Putu from Bali, Indonesia feels at home as she balances a hand-woven basket on her head.

Gabby displays some of the carving wooden vessels used to carry water in the villages of Somalia.

After this educational and inspiring tour, we offer Gabby and a few other volunteers there a presentation of our Peace Run song written by the Founder of the Peace Run.

Yuyudhan offers Gabby our Certificate of Appreciation for her time and efforts in her wonderful tour here today.

She is moved to tears when she notices one of the photos on the Certificate is of a familiar park in Philadelphia where she lived for sometime. In the background also is a photo of the building where her mother works and she even spotted the floor and window of her mom's office.

We were amazed at this serendipitous experience and had to check it out for ourselves.

One of the workers here, Muhammed, and Gabby share the Torch and Certificate which many of our international runners had signed with their name and country.

Much gratitude to Gabby, Muhammed and the Somali Museum.

Our next stop was to pick up five hot, fresh pizzas from Pizza Luce as part of our dinner tonight.

They kindly donated these delicious 'steaming discs' full of tasty vegetables as their offering to the Peace Run . We are extremely grateful for supporting our efforts here in their community with their incredible pizzas this evening. Some of the kind and friendly staff members took a few minutes out of their very busy evening to share the Peace Torch with us as we presented them with our Certificate of Appreciation.

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Two of our men's team Peace Runners, Atul from India and Pujari from San Diego who also grew up in Minnesota and who have been with us since California will be leaving us tomorrow. We offered them small tokens of our appreciation and gratitude for their invaluable contributions, and miles, to the Peace Run in the west and northwest.