I was woken this morning at 5 am by calling Kookaburras. I couldn’t help chuckling to myself as they laughed away. I left the tent to see about 6 rabbits gently and silently hopping over the grass ...
... and of course the picturesque Murray River swirling its way to the sea. In the early hours the beauty of the river is captivating: now still and quiet like each of us, getting ready for the day.
With only 25 km for the whole team to run to reach our first school by 10 am, we all left camp about 8.30 am, stretching our legs on this crisp fresh morning.
First call for the Peace Run today was Cohuna Consolidated Primary School.
We gave our presentation in a hall decorated with the children’s peace pictures and poems about the Peace Run.
There were also some cute koala paintings, which reminded me of the koalas we saw in the wild in Adelaide. They are so adorable, just like someone has placed a little teddy bear sweetly sleeping on the branch of a Eucalyptus tree. Towering at the entrance to this school were two of my favourite Eucalypts -with the rounder silver green leaves.
Kaspars about to present his famous juggling act.
Singing – and feeling – the song.
Around us the walls were decorated with so many wonderful pictures, poems and messages, for example:
“Around the sun it can be done
Some would come but nobody won
Peace Run it is really fun
So come and join the fun Peace Run?"
“Today I went for a run
Because I thought it was fun
The Peace Run has begun
So go run.”
“I wish I was in the run
It would be lots of fun
It would be hot in the sun
But there will still be more to be don
Come and join the Peace Run”
Oneness with the whole world.
There is unknown music in each of us.
Ashton and Alex received the Certificate of Appreciation ...
... and later, after watching the short Peace Run DVD ...
... Ashton gave a well delivered Thank You speech to us all. Today is Rememberence Day and Bernie Monaghon, a teacher, held the school for a minute's silence heralded by a recording of military horns.
A private moment with the flame can be a captivating recognition of one's own soul's light.
Before we departed the school, the teachers invited us in for some coffee and cake.
It was a welcome break to sit down and chat with the teachers before we began our running again.
While Misha headed in one direction...
... we made for Echuca.
Stacey met with Stanley from Holland, all kitted out in his cowboy gear ready to go to his job on a farm.
I felt good running and felt hope to build up my strength to increase the distance I can run.
We concur and comply.
Arriving into Echuca ...
... at 2 pm, we made our way to Echuca Primary School ...
... where we were greeted by 500 students in their gym.
What a sea of faces!
It was great playing the 'guessing game' with them.
When asked what peace means, one student called out: "It means when you love everyone around the world."
Feeling peace inside our hearts.
Riley and Hollie received the Certificate of Appreciation ...
... before all the children went outside to form a huge ring to pass the torch. With so many students, when we went outside we lit up three torches and each Peace Runner scooted off to a different part of the oval to get all the students to hold the torch and make their wish for peace.
What was touching for me as I was following one of the torches, was how each student had their wish ready and really felt the significance of the Peace Torch and offering their own wish or prayer for peace in its presence.
We then had time for one quick run around the oval before the end of school.
We had been at Echuca Primary nearly an hour but could have stayed so much longer.
After our presentation at Echuca Primary, the team ran down High Street to the Council Chambers ...
... to be greeted by Mayor Ian Maddison – on his last day in office! – accompanied by the incoming Mayor-elect, Leigh Wilson.
The Peace Run team had meet Mayor Ian Maddison when he was in Canberra for the Local Government Conference and from our first meeting we knew we all wanted to run through his Shire this year. There are some people who shine goodness and Ian is one of them. So it was like greeting an old friend when we saw Mayor Maddison today.
The Mayor then led us to the reception area that Bobbi had arranged for us.
Here we met more of the councillors and staff of the council.
The General Manager for the Council, Paul McKenzie, introduced the Mayor to speak. The Mayor then came up and spoke and welcomed us wholeheartedly to the community, remarking on what a fantastic thing it is that we are doing.
The Mayor spoke highly of the founder, Sri Chinmoy, and his vision for the Peace Run. He commented how important it was see the whole world as one family, and when that happened how much better it would be. He then said: “When you [the Peace Runners] go to your graves – God bless you – you will go knowing the good that you have done and the people you have touched, both the Peace Runners you travel with and the people you meet along the way.”
We then spent some time talking to everyone there, and you could really see and feel what a wonderful community this is.
We all commented afterwards how much heart we felt in that room and the sense that everyone is shown such love – it is something we will take with us on the Run and we will always remember the kindness of this good community.
It was a fabulous reception with jam and cream scones which made me feel right at home.
As everyone was leaving, another counciller, Paul Jarman – inspired by the message of the Peace Run – offered us a free meal at his hotel, the Star Hotel. He picked up the phone right then and there and booked us in for 6 pm!
And what a wonderful meal it was: there was an abundance of wood fire pizza and salads and lots of laugher. Often if something goes wrong it becomes something I NEVER do. I had pizza a week ago and had felt quite ill afterwards and decided that was it for me and pizza. The Star Hotel made wood fired baked pizza and after a bit of resistance I tried it. My confidence in Pizza has been totally restored and my mind has become a little more flexible! Such a big-hearted, generous man, we thank you Paul for your kindness.
After a long day, some of our boys dipped their legs in the pool at the Riverboat Lodge Motor Inn, where we are staying tonight. Grant Casbolt eagerly took hold of the torch to show his support and kindly lodged our runners for the evening, right near the centre of town.
Before dinner, we were also treated by Coles to a shopping spree for future supplies.
The women's team is staying tonight at the Philadelphia Motor Inn, where Janice is very kindly hosting our team.
At this friendly caravan park we met Ray and Maureen Hartley, who reside in Newbridge, just out of Bendigo. They were so happy and enthusiastic to meet us. Ray even took the torch and ran with it for 50 metres despite being injured!
As soon as Ray received the Peace Run sticker, he placed it on his caravan. We were so happy together. I hope we see Ray and Maureen again. And we hope to see you again too, dear reader, hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime – good night!
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 Koondrook, Vic to Echuca, Vic.