Team C – to avoid as much of the heat of the day as possible, depart Mount Ebenezer at 5.21 am, breakfast and lunch packed in the van. The crescent Moon is high in the sky but east the sky is already a rusty orange. This is a time for careful driving as kangaroos ping about beside – and across – the road. Just before 6 am the Sun quickly rises above the horizon.
The corner of the Lasseter and Stuart Highways is our start point and the last chance for mobile phone connection, so, while Pranava sets off on the first leg of the Run, Prabuddha makes phone calls in the car park making arrangements for future parts of the Run.
A big green sign points right and says ‘Adelaide’: Pranava is on the right route. We have 75 km to cover. On his first run, a car stops and offers Pranava water, and the two local men are delighted to hear from him that the Run started at Uluru. We are in a friendly and supportive country.
By 8 am and with the heat still bearable, we have covered 32 km.
At 8.30 in the middle of a flat, hot landscape which continues with little scrub to the horizon in all directions, we meet Sonny and Jason. They are mowing a strip of grass along the side of the highway with a large tractor. Both are very friendly and supportive and eager to hold the torch and run with the team.
‘Sonny’, one says his name is, ‘but at night they call me Moonie’.
He tells us how his son has run the New York City Marathon courtesy of a programme for Indigenous youth run by Robert de Castella, a National Patron of the Peace Run.
Jason stops his tractor. No, he is not Sonny’s brother – ‘Well, brothers in the battle’ but then he reconsiders that – ‘No, there is no battle.’
He is delighted that we are sharing his roadside.
And so the day continues – sitting quietly in the van or on the roadside or running down the blistering road.
Vilasin, the naturalist, spots wedge tailed eagles.
As it gets hotter we get slower and run shorter distances – except perhaps for Bayarkhuu the Great who ends up covering a half-marathon.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Teams A & B awoke to the sound of our Team C starting up and getting on the road shortly after 5 am...
The Outback is starting to capture us. This is a totally different world for most if not all of us, and can take a few days to get use to. This morning hearing the sound of one of the Peace Runners strumming his guitar looking out over the barren countryside pulled at your heart strings ever so slightly and the outback crept a little bit more into your heart.
For those of us remaining, a leisurely breakfast was in order, for we were not due at the Imanpa Community and School until 8.30 am.
Our directions were truly outback directions: ‘head to the rock, (Uluru that is) about 9km on your left you will see a yellow sign, take the next small road on your right, and follow it down about 6km and you will see the school along there.’ And yes, even with these directions we still had members of the community direct us to our final destination.
We arrived a little early so were able to meet, mingle and play with all the students before the start of school ...
The students slowly (and some not so slowly) trickled in until 9 am ...
... when we gathered in readiness and were directed into one of their classrooms to talk to them about the Peace Run.
We watched the Peace Run DVD together ...
... and learned the World Harmony Run song ...
... complete with actions!
With a little help from some of the teachers the children were able to guess all the countries and we hope they will look up their new friends' countries to see where they are in the world.
Then it was time to "feel peace in our hearts".
Next it was outside to the playground for everyone to hold the Peace Torch and offer their own "wishes for peace."
A group photo before, suddenly ...
... we were off!
These kids know a thing or two about the "latest fad" – barefoot running.
As we had made our way outside the school grounds to run with the torch, you could see the students putting their hands on their heart to feel peace before we took off down the street, welcoming all our new Peace Runners to the team.
Selena was here on a week's exchange work and had seen the Peace Torch many years ago in her native country of the Phillipines. We made sure she held the Torch one more time and look forward to seeing her in whatever country she will find us again!
As we drive off to start our running – in what will be some hot weather, the joy and happiness we have received from this school and the children will make those rays seem a little less harsh and the hard road a little softer.
By the time the two teams got on the road, Team C who had left early had nearly finished their kilometres for the day. We took off on our first run just before 10 am and it was already feeling like a hot day.
Hastakamala was out 3rd in the girls team ...
... it's her birthday today and what a birthday it must be!
With the hot dry wind our mouths were like sandpaper within a few minutes. To combat this some of the girls team put wet bandanas over our mouth to breath in some moist air. They only stayed wet for about 10 minutes but helped somewhat ...
... then they ended up on our heads ...
... or around our necks.
Desert fruit dessert?
Meanwhile our other boys team, team B, had also taken to the road.
Not outback humour – this sign is for real! (though only very rarely)
In a rare conjunction, our two star photographers ended up on the same team today, so they each feature in several photos (they are usually behind the camera!)
Kaspars was able to capture Prabhakar in action in these rare images.
One photographer knows a good pose when he sees one ...
... as does another.
These shots of Kaspars were taken by Prabhakar ...
Perhaps we should keep these photographers apart from now on...
They are at their best when photographing the other runners, like these wonderful images of Rathin "on the road."
The heat is intense and sapping and stifling ...
... but Kulgera Roadhouse – our destination for the night – has a pool – a pool of startlingly cool water. The team are happy.
A big thanks to Chris and Jala Lampre from Kulgera Roadhouse for extending their hospitality and allowing us to take a comfortable and cool night’s rest in their bungalows. With the temperature rising into the high 30s we all very much appreciated a respite from the heat.
Torch carried by Bayarkhuu Batbayar(Mongolia),
Dhiraja Mc Bryde(New Zealand),
Niribili File(New Zealand),
Nurari Merry(Great Britain),
Prabhakar Street (Canada),
Pranava Runar Gigja(Iceland),
Stacey Marsh(New Zealand),
Prabhakar Street ,
The torch has travelled
from Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse, NT to Kulgera Roadhouse, NT.