Sunday morning at Tooleybuc was chilly and quiet. A cool day, low running mileage and no meetings meant a day to recharge ourselves. Just how Sundays used to be.
We had a ‘late’ start. Breakfast was scheduled for 8 am. With only 65 km between the whole team today, and no meetings scheduled, we took it easy this morning.
I had been offered some assistance with photography – having edited all the women’s teams photos for the website and having no training or even an eye for, well, for anything. It has been a miracle there have been some photos of our team up on the web. But with two fantastic photographers on the men’s team, they have kept this side of the team afloat. So with a few instructions on what settings to use for different and sharper photos, I wandered down along the waterfront to just snap a few shots of the river using different shutter speeds and other things about which I know nothing.
One of the great things about the Peace Run is that there are so few of you doing so many different tasks, that you have the opportunity to learn and grow at every moment. There are many many people that can take a better photo than me, but as this task has ended up in my lap I have to learn it and try my hardest to capture the essence of the Peace Run each and every day.
As I wandered I heard the call of the Kookaburra, my favourite Australian Bird. I remembered a conversation I had with a local in one of the towns we had run through: the lady had commented that the locals believe it will rain when they hear its call. I shall be waiting to see if I feel those light drops of rain in the next few days.
After our rich and healthy breakfast, our first boys team started running our allotted 20 km together. Misha from Siberia ran 10 km straight off the bat ...
... and we joined with him, one by one for a run.
Even though we could not keep our torch lit due to high risk of fire, we all kept our inner flame strong and set ourselves to do some speed work.
The running conditions were perfect; bright day, cool weather and some empty road to run.
All of us faced strong head winds and it was a bit challenging to keep up a fast running pace.
Along the way many cars and trucks honked their support. Grahak and Atul ran a speedy section together.
Misha demonstrates the gait he learned in the Russian military ...
... though he infinitely prefers the Peace Run gait :-)
Graham Henderson takes a walk daily around his 2.5 acre property. He has been doing so for so many years he has forgotten, but the pathway snaking through the trees represents the years and footfalls best and clear. He was taking such a walk today as we parked our van beside his lot and waited for our duo of runners – Sukhajata and Misha – to wind their way to us along the road. Curious, he asked us about our run and before too many words he was offering us some of his fresh and chemical free rain water to refill our daily water supply. We gratefully accepted and over the course of the next few minutes found a kindred soul and friendly spirit in his jovial and caring nature.
Over the 67 years he has lived on this patch of land he has only drunk this rainwater and cannot stand any other type of water, which he says tastes like chemicals. Even coffee is unbearable to him without the purest water. Many thanks to Graham for his friendly words and gesture of good will.
For the final 3 km into Swan Hill, we ran together with flags as well as the Torch.
The flags draw more attention, tooting and waving from people in the cars, which gives us extra energy and happiness.
We ran thus right to the centre of town.
Here we met Angela from Goolwa, where we were a week ago. She was so suprised to find that we are running for friendship, peace and happiness through half of Australia. She invited us to a health food café to enjoy the best green smoothies which were absolutely delicious, along with the accompanying cheesecake :)
The other boys had also arrived in Swan Hill by now, and unbeknownst to the rest of us ...
... were enjoying a chilled out time at a trendy café.
Fresh smoothies, simple salads and some hot chocolates made a good recovery food for us.
Some amazing salad chew time for Casper the Cow.
Earlier this morning, our women’s team – eager to get underway and put some miles in the bank, had made it to our start location – Swan Hill – a little before 9 am. (Yes, Swan Hill is also our finishing point for today, and our starting point for tomorrow. I don't do the schedule!!)
On my first stint out running, I heard words of encouragement called from a footpath behind some trees. I made a quick detour to meet one of the teachers from St Mary's School: she of course had heard about the Peace Run as we are visiting there tomorrow. She was telling me how excited the students were to meet us and all about their preparations.
We had our lightest day, with just 15 km between the two of us and it was over before we knew it, finishing at Lake Boga.
There is something special about bodies of water and just sitting here for a few minutes after running was calming and peaceful in a way that energised you for the rest of the day.
The whole team met up (back) in Swan Hill at a park by the river for a picnic lunch.
It was fun to see what each team member put in their wraps.
Here we met some of the local kids Indigo, Celia, Xayliha and Maddox, accompanied by Toni.
Celia goes to St Mary’s School and knew all about us as we will be visiting her school in the morning. I wanted to whisper in her ear where some of our tougher-to-guess team members were from, but was distracted and missed my opportunity!
Perhaps the children inspired us to remember the child in ourselves ..
Misha posed with the Peace Flame for Prabhakar in the park.
We now had the afternoon free, so many of us parted ways to explore Swan Hill ...
... some in coffee shops ...
... and some swimming or wandering along the waterfront and enjoying the ever changing beauty of the Murray ...
... our spirits released by the river from the cycle of daily schedule, to fly free in our imagination's sky.
I saw my first paddle steamer on the Murray today. I can only imagine what the river would have looked like years ago when there were so many more on the river. Such a grand vessel.
Our women's team arrived at Jane Eliza Motor Inn and were greeted like old friends by Julie; she quickly got us our room and encouraged us to go swimming in their indoor pool. Soon after we met Brian as well who has competed in a number of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team races in Melbourne in the 80’s. Thank you so much for hosting us this evening!
The Paddle Steamer Motel offered some of our boys team a wonderful family apartment. Upon arrival we expressed our gratitude by immediately jumping in the clear and perfectly cool pool!
When the remainder of us arrived at our accommodation, Comfort Inn Lady Augusta (it's lovely how many of the hotels here are named after paddle steamers), we were welcomed by the owners, Jeff and Laura Ryan. During our brief conversation the owners mentioned accommodating us was their way to contribute to a good cause. Sri Chinmoy once stated “During the performance of real selfless service, we get abundant joy”. It felt that the Peace Run event also gives an opportunity to kind-hearted people like Jeff and Laura to have this abundant joy. Laura showed us our room and we were chuffed to see our luxurious apartment located in a peaceful environment. We definitely recommend this place to stay in Swan Hill.
Torch carried by Atul Arora(India),
Nurari Merry(Great Britain),
Prabhakar Street (Canada),
Pranava Runar Gigja(Iceland),
Stacey Marsh(New Zealand),
Sukhajata Cranfield(New Zealand),
Prabhakar Street ,
The torch has travelled
from Tooleybuc, NSW to Swan Hill, Vic.