We started at 5 o'clock directly from the Pink Roadhouse where we had stayed in Oodnadatta, renowned as the driest town in Australia. The light of the Torch was shining brightly before sunrise.
When the sun came up we enjoyed running in the glow of this colourful sunrise.
For much of the morning we ran alongside an old disused railway track.
Associated with the railway were several dilapidated stone buildings.
At one stop, Felix climbed onto this nice old railway bridge.
Meanwhile, the girls team had also gotten off to an early, if somewhat hazy start...
Zombie-like we rose, packed and loaded up the vehicles for another early start. I managed half a cup of tea, but even that didn’t improve my mood too much! I decided it was a morning for me not to say too much!
The track to William Creek was a sharp left-hand turn just out of Oonadatta. Even at 5 am with no streetlights, our sharp-eyed Stacey spotted the sign and set the team in the right direction. Unfortunately the second boys car, which had left earlier, wasn’t so lucky and they ended up in Coober Pedy (more of that later).
The terrain is like the scrubland just before a beach and I really could imagine the sea appearing over the hill. The lightly undulating countryside reminds of Wales, except of course in Wales there is a layer of lush green grass! The tufty grasses and tiny shrubs dot the pink sandy soil all the way to the horizon. It is an eternal panorama. The idea of time seems meaningless here. The vastness and simplicity is uplifting.
The only other traffic we saw (aside from this unfortunate case) was a small truck and a tractor with an Irish driver.
The road condition was a big improvement on yesterday and we had a tailwind nudging us along.
I had a minor drama when I found we didn’t have any salt in our van. I had got into the habit of putting salt in my water and it was somehow reassuring. I thought how funny it is how quickly I had got attached to my little ritual ...
... Of course there were other options like isotonic drink powder, chia seeds etc, but no, I wanted my salt! I felt how I had attached ‘caring for myself’ to this little salt tub, when really, caring for myself comes from my heart. If I can attach myself to the love from my heart I can free myself to use any salty additive in my water! Luckily just then, the boys van drove past on their way and I got some salt! God’s Compassion!
Little did I realise, there is so much salt on the surface of the ground here – I could have bent over and scooped up a lifetime's supply!
My bad mood was hanging around: I had heard that you can use the energy of anger in a positive way and tried to channel it into my running. I also imagined people who are acting in a destructive way in the world, burning up in the torch flame! Very satisfying! I am not sure if that is quite in tune with the Peace ethos but it shifted some grumpiness in a harmless way!
Niribili is an inspiration. She ran a spritely 16 km today.
... and Hastakamala, reeled in the miles ...
... and Stacey has got this capacity to just keep going. They each ran over 15 km.
I am happy with my 9 km and have been determinedly feeding my body with Alexander technique directions as I run, hopefully to keep it somewhat in alignment ...
... or at least, better alignment than this old outpost!
The Fork in the Road
Not far from Oodnadatta there is a fork in the road. The left fork is the route of the Peace Run; the right fork is the turn that our team takes. This is where we end up.
We leave the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta at 5 am. The dark is complete but the road, though dirt, is good and Prabhakhar, as kangaroo spotter in the front passenger seat, is able to protect us from the cattle who make it their business to leap onto the road. We drive 146 km and set off on our run.
The Sun is covered by a protecting veil of cloud, the land is flat and devoid of nearly all vegetation. There are no cows here, only a large snake which introduces itself to Prabuddha. (Prabuddha does not think it is a good idea for Prabhakhar to set off to photograph it!)
In this landscape the support vehicle does not disappear around a corner: it disappears over the flat horizon.
We have run 19 km ...
... when Prabuddha deduces that we are unfortunately on the wrong road.
We are 40 km from Coober Pedy: we should be 40 km from William Creek.
We have to reconsider.
We drive to Coober Pedy and do some grocery shopping. The car park here proves an interesting place [not pictured]. Small children throw biscuits at Prabuddha but they turn out to be friendly as does their mother.
One elderly resident, arriving to do her shopping, is delighted to see us. "You still exist!" she exclaims. She had known of Sri Chinmoy, run founder, thirty years ago. "I have time for anyone who believes in peace."
Now we must make it back to where we should be. Another track takes us across to William Creek where the rest of the team has already completed their day’s running. Along this track we are fortunate to meet a family of emus out for a lunchtime walk.
At 1 pm we set out to drive to our starting point. We have certainly missed all chance of avoiding the heat of the day.
At 1.30 pm Prabhakhar starts running.
Happily the sky remains cloudy and the wind, though fierce and hot, is at our backs.
Sometimes the wind is so strong as to make lighting the torch a difficult process.
Rathin introduces us to the benefit of running with a plastic bag of ice under one's hat.
At one point, Rathin disappears in a cloud of dust that sweeps down the road behind him; ...
... at another, a willy willy (or dust devil) swirls across the flat landscape and passes by the team vehicle on the side of the road.
There seemed to be storm bewing on the horizon.
In this heat, 2 km stints are sufficient.
By 4.30 pm we arrive (again) at William Creek. Our day has been long and hot and tiring but we are joyful to have played our part.
Our earlier teams had arrived at William Creek around midday and found it uber hot and windy.
We took refuge in the friendly roadhouse - home to Tom, Rose and the workers ...
... and Bert and Will, the two dogs. Bert is a beautiful, golden muscley dingo and the smaller darker Will is his son. Bert came from the local kangaroo farm when he was 6 months old.
The "storm" turned out to be all wind, but produced this surprising rainbow.
We meet Jess, a city girl from Sydney who had seen us in Uluru many days ago and was excited to hold the Torch. She has been travelling around Australia for two weeks going off the beaten track and seeing those hidden gems. She will be travelling down to Marree tomorrow and has promised to stop and say 'hi' and maybe run with us for a short distance.
Time to relax indoors.
Lake Eyre is a nearby tourist attraction. It fills up every seven years or so with water and is – I was shocked to read – the size of Holland! What an amazing and unique country!
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),
The torch has travelled
from Oodnadatta, SA to William Creek, SA.