Australia 5 November: Mannum, SA - Waikerie, SA

Through the Riverland

Today we had an incredible start to our day with a wonderful reception at Mannum Community College. I arrived early to the school to confirm the final details before the team arrived. As I was sitting in the office waiting for Tracey (our staff contact) a student came running in very excitedly proclaiming to her friend that the Peace Runners will be coming today!

Over the last few weeks, each classroom had watched two different DVDs about the Peace Run, written poetry, painted posters or 'Thank You' art for the team. They had been following us online and knew all about us!

We were greeted by two students who welcomed us and gave us directions to run around the quadrangle, passing all the other students before finishing outside one of the classrooms.

The children greeted us with us a sea of art and poetry, the likesof which hasn’t been seen before on an Australian Peace Run. There was hardly a student without some form of offering for world peace. Against the backdrop of a huge human "Welcome" sign, Tracey officially welcomed the team and all the students crowded around ...

... as Atul took the microphone.

The students had been watching online videos of the Peace Run before our visit and were incredibly inspired.

Feeling peace inside our hearts.

It was mutual inspiration as the children read out their thoughts on peace, led by Ebony, which in turn lifted the runners.

Classes 3 and 4 presented us with a big poster saying 'Thank You' to the Peace Run for coming to their school.

Along with their song they presented the runners with artwork and some huge banners equal to their huge efforts for us to treasure on our journey.

They then all lined the quad so that each student could hold the torch.

The Assistant Principal, Michele Holloway, then came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation and she spoke of how proud they were to have the Peace Run come to their school.

Mannum Community College is a wonderful school! They have an unofficial motto of Awesomeness, and each child has signed a gratitude pledge that reads ...

"On this day and every day, I pledge to myself
I will be thankful for what I have
For the people who I love and people who love me
I will walk tall and not be afraid to fall
I will be kind and help others just because I can
I will brighten this day with my smile
I will do my best to be the best me I can be."

Now it was time to – run! ...

... making them all official Peace Runners!

As we were not pressed for other appointments and we had received so much joy from this school, we stayed a little longer than normal and just embraced the happy joyful feeling we received from all students and teachers here.

Time to depart ...

... and yet still, on both sides of the fence, our parting was not so easy!

We are literally taking a piece of Mannum College with us, a token of something much vaster we are carrying in our hearts.

And so to the road ...

Team A – our task was to run 62 km, as far as Swan Reach.

If Uluru, the starting point of this year's Peace Run, represents the heart of the continent, then the Murray River and its communities surely make up the life blood of this country. The river feeds the agriculture and towns. Huge wheat fields and fruit orchards, fed and irrigated by the river, rise up from the otherwise desert land.

Snail.

No snail.

Atul gets a breather as we cross the river by ferry at Walkers Flat.

All for peace.

The views were spectacular today...

... the bluffs and cliffs falling into the river, the land moulded by the vein of water at a time when its volume was much greater.

As spectacular were the views, so was the running long.

Team B – our girls team had the middle section today.

After crossing the river at Walkers Flat ...

... we arrived soon after at Swan Reach to start the 40 km that was allotted to us.

Our whole team loved the running today.

As there are only three of us in the team for now, you are pretty much just jumping in and out of the car with enough time to get a quick drink and bite to eat if you need it.

As we are following the Murray River as much as possible, we took the road less travelled: no big roads today, just beautiful rolling countryside, past wineries and citrus orchards.

Knowing the river was just there on our left, our eyes wandered often over there to catch a glimpse of the majestic river.

You can see how people are drawn here – never before have I felt such a love and sense of awe for a river, and it seems each day that we spend near it, it shows just a little bit more of its grand beauty.

All too soon our kms were over (here is the marker left for us by the boys team, marking our finishing point).

With over 15 km today on our legs they were not tired at all: we all could have bound beside the Mighty Murray for many more kms. Not wanting to leave the river we took the long route to our destination ...

... stopping at a lookout point for lunch.

Today the river has offered to us a calm and tranquil feeling of contentment.

Team C – our task was to run the final 59 km in to Waikerie.

We crossed the mighty Murray on a ferry – probably the shortest and nicest boat ride I have been on in my life. The view over the Murray is something else, with beautiful cliffs on each side.

The river kept us gazing at it constantly as we made our way alongside that majestic and important vein of nourishment for the plants, trees, animals and people alike. All the way from high in the Snowy Mountains to the mouth of the Murray near Goolwa, they all trust in the Murray like a mother.

We met Sue and Helen on the road as they were driving to Berri. They stopped to chat about the Run and enthusiastically held the torch and ran a few symbolic steps for peace. They were making their way up from the Great Ocean Road.

Not only did the mighty Murray keep our concentration ...

... but also the vines and orange trees along the road.

I can just taste them as I write this – but we were in a hurry and did not have a chance to buy any.

Waikerie, our day's destination.

Some of the team went to the supermarket to buy supplies for the next few days ...

... while others simply meditated.

We the runners give all our thanks and gratitude to Ted and Cheryl Angove for their heartfelt hospitality. They gave not only great acommodation at their Blake Road Cottage with all and sundry; they also housed the girls team in their own home. Their oneness and kindness to us all is what makes this Peace Run go on and on. If it were not for kind-hearted people like Ted and Cheryl Angove of Waikerie we would have stopped long ago.

Our meeting with Ted also resulted in us presenting the Peace Run to the Rotary Club of Waikerie, a memorbale evening.