Nov. 13, 2014 Live from the road

Shepparton, Vic - Yarrawonga, Vic

Reported by Atul Arora, Grahak Cunningham, Stacey Marsh 107.0 km

Our day started in Shepparton, spending our food voucher kindly donated by Coles. Thank you!

Then we "hit the road!"

With not a great distance to our first appointment, our girls team had only a short 7 km to our first school at 9 am.

However, soon after sending our second runner out for a 2 km run ...

... she was on her way back! The school was only 300 metres away.

So we arrived at Congupna Primary School nice and early, to be greeted by Rosemary Hepworth, the Principal and heart of this school. As she was talking to us she was greeting all the students and parents as well as showing us around the school. Telling us that we were to make ourselves at home, we duly did so and really felt at home. Once all the students arrived, we ran in and assembled in an outdoor shaded area near the main gate. Hayden and Nathan kindly held the banner for us while Grahak commenced the Peace Run presentation.

Small schools are great, as there is plenty of time for the children to hold the torch and mix with the runners.

We were all very impressed at the students being able to guess where we were from – well accept for Kaspars from Latvia, no one could get that. Even Grahak spent some time in front of a school map today actually learning where Latvia is.

The school has a world map and puts a marker over the country of each new visitor to the school. So now every single student at Congupna school will know where Latvia is!

Their one rule at the school is: Shared respect gives us freedom of choice.

If ever this rule gets broken somehow, everyone knows that whatever happened for it to be broken, it becomes ‘history and no baggage is taken’.

You can see the students are really loved here by everyone and it shows in their happy joyful faces.

The School Captains then came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation – Abbie Allen, Vaughan Dillon and Brodie Gee.

To finish we moved to the school oval so we could all hold the torch and make our wish for peace before a run around the oval.

Such a happy joyful school, it was a pleasure to come and visit Congupna!

While we had been enjoying ourselves at Congupna ...

... our second boys team had been running further ahead ...

... to reach Katamatite Primary School, also for a 9 am meeting.

Jemma Whinray was in charge of the school and was very excited to see the runners. There were about 40-45 students who welcomed us with a guarding honour of high fives.

Pranava led the presentation with an engaging manner and his usual entertaining approach.

We all took time to find peace in our hearts.

The School Captain, Tarion, took the honour of receiving the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the school.

Outside, the Peace Torch worked its magic.

The teacher in charge remarked to one of our team members, how important was this meeting for the school for their education and knowledge building. She was very grateful to have the team visit her school. Also present were Laura and Emily from the local newspapers, Cobram Courier and Numurkah Leader. They interviewed Pranava and seemed delighted to attend this meeting.

Back on the road and all teams were running again, destination Cobram.

The running conditions were a bit warm today and did present us a bit of a challenge.

Runners were also a bit tired and took it easy today.

We ran along a busy highway with many trucks and cars. They made our run a bit entertaining when we received many honks and waves. This time we ran through many green pastures and saw a lot of cows and their calves eagerly looking at us as we ran past them.

We had more kms today than we have had in recent days, so we all enjoyed getting out there on the road.

The temperature was increasing, but the joy of running with the Torch made the heat seem bearable.

We also passed a lot of peach and strawberry farms. Some of us noticed the smart irrigation systems used to water these farms with no electricity and using conventional farming methods.

Misha found $2 two seconds into his run. He questioned why the rather large and beautifully shaped 50 cent coin of Australia is worth far less than our rather small $2 coin. Apparently it also tastes better.

Passing through Katamatite, we met Maria. She moved from the busy Gold Coast to the area and has operated her store, Katamite Bazaar, since 2000.

Her dogs aren’t for sale :-)

Ah, we are back to the river again.

Our whole team converged on Cobram Primary School with some time to spare and recharge our batteries.

It was a coincidence that our meeting was organised on the same day on the school’s 50th anniversary.

Julie Walsh was the teacher in charge of the school.

The school environment was very relaxing and cool.

There were about 40-50 students attending the meeting.

They belong to various ethnic backgrounds which gave us a good challenge in our country guessing game.

The students were smart and it didn’t take them long to beat us at the country guessing game.

At the end of our meeting they asked some good questions. We presented the Certificate of Appreciation to the Captains, Vilisi LeCandau, Hussain-Al-Sharifi, Aymen Maarj & Ruby Sproules.

Then we ventured outside.

Everyone had their chance to connect with the Peace Torch.

Some students were keen to have a quick sprint with one of our fast runners. Pranava showed his Viking speed but was still given some good competition by the students.

After the school and a quick snack, all the teams were back on the road.

Again we were splitting the kms so we would all be able to make it the final school of the day.

Our women's team was scheduled to run the last section, so we got to drive past all the other teams and see what the drivers usually see: all these wonderful peace runners running along the road.

Today was a pretty tight schedule so there was no time to really do much except run, drive and get ready to run again ...

... but once we made it to Mulwala Public School, we could take a moment to breathe and then enjoy our last school of the day.

Here running only 5 minutes late, literally running into the function, we met all the students in one of the classrooms.

I don’t think any of us will ever tire of meeting all these wonderful children of our future; they inspire us all.

The students were right on to the various countries of the runners.

We then answered some questions before watching the Peace Run DVD.

At the end we were happy to hear that some of the students had already watched the video from the website ...

... you saw a few students looking back at us to see if they could recognise any of us in the video.

The School Captains, Zali Peters and Tanner Nyholm came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation.

Then we adjourned to the playing field ...

... so all could hold the torch and then run with us.

With still some time left before the end of school and no more running for us today ...

... we all sat under the shade on the side of the oval and the students asked us some more questions.

Some of the kids challenged Atul to a race down the field ...

... He lost – but only just – and only one boy beat him.

As the bell sounded the students went back to get their bags ...

... and we made our way to the lake front for a swim to cool off after that last stint of running in the heat.

Lake Mulwala, one of the many reservoirs capturing the waters of the Murray for irrigation schemes to sustain a thriving agriculture.

Our deepest gratitude to Anthony (Tony), his wife Josephine and three sons Joe, Vince and Alessandro for giving a few of us free acommodation at their family run Lakeview Motel in Yarrawonga that was build by Anthony's father and mother.

This very nice motel commands a great view over the lake.

Most of the team are staying at the Yarrawonga Holiday Park; this sprawling park follows the Murray along for about 400 m with lovely camping areas near the waterfront. Hosted by Sean & Michelle, it is one of the biggest holiday and caravan parks I have ever seen!

The Park is run by a not-for-profit organisation and is staffed by community volunteers. All the profits go back into the community. This has been going for over 100 years! A cinema night way back over a hundred years ago raised the funds to start this Park and it has been in the care of the community ever since.

Torch carried by
Abhinandan Willis (Australia), Atul Arora (India), Felix Lindner (Switzerland), Grahak Cunningham (Australia), Kaspars Zakis (Latvia), Mikhail Vasilchenko (Russia), Nurari Merry (Great Britain), Prabhakar Street (Canada), Pranava Runar Gigja (Iceland), Stacey Marsh (New Zealand), Sukhajata Cranfield (New Zealand), Yashodevi Samar (Ukraine).  
Kaspars Zakis, Prabhakar Street , Stacey Marsh
The torch has travelled 107.0 km from Shepparton, Vic to Yarrawonga, Vic.

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