Nov. 14, 2014 Live from the road

Yarrawonga, Vic - Albury, NSW

Reported by Abhinandan Willis, Pranava Runar Gigja, Stacey Marsh 137.0 km

Lake Mulwala greeted us when we rose this morning.

The stark dead trees a reminder that this lake was once a forest, flooded as part of the massive Murray & Murrumbidgee River irrigation schemes.

A breather before what is set to be a scorcher of a day, with the mercury predicted to top 38 degrees – one of the hottest days on this beautiful run from the heart of Australia, Uluru, to its Capital City of Canberra.

Our girls contingent led our team of twelve intrepid runners out of the sweet township of Yarrawonga where we had made countless new friends.

We were all braced for another day under the searing Australian sun.

137 km of road stretched before us.

We were on the road by 8 am, the heat of the day already packing a punch.

For all the challenges of running in the heat there is, as always, a delightful solace and simplicity in just being out on the road with the torch.

At times everything feels effortless and you find the sometimes elusive ‘zone’ where your legs no longer require conscious will power and just seem to turn over of their own accord.

At other times not as much.

Thankfully there is a strong camaraderie amongst the team and we collectively pick up the slack when one of our team is having a tough day.

As an Australian, being out on the road is kindling a deep sense of patriotism. I love Australia. Even when the scenery is unremarkable, the dryness and vastness has its own distinct beauty.

With high humidity we were all hot by the time we finished our first section of running ...

... to Corowa Public School. One of our team went in to see the Principal before the meeting to confirm everything and was told her son had seen us yesterday at Mulwala Primary and had talked about us all night! So she now knew all about the Peace Run.

The students then assembled in the hall. We ran in and Pranava took to the mic to introduce us.

The students looked very neat and smart in their school uniforms ...

... and smart is the right word as they were fast in guessing the runners' countries of origin.

We were all so amazed at how fast they guessed all the countries of our runners ...

... well, except for mine (NZ). The first guest was Spain and the second was PNG: when I gave them the clue that we had lots and lots and lots of sheep, a lot of hands shot up with confidence and they got it!

We sang for them as they enthusiastically did the movements along with the World Harmony Run song and because they were so attentive we sang Sri Chinmoy's Peace Run song as well.

When asked other meanings of the word 'peace', they came up with such a great selection: 'everyone calm', 'being happy', 'freedom', 'teamwork', 'joy'!

One class presented to the team their thoughts on peace. Brydie Smith and Phoebe Osborne read these on behalf of the class:

"Peace is helping someone when they are hurt.
Peace is playing with your friends.
Peace is swimming at the swimming pool.
Peace is reading a book.
Peace is having space.
Peace is playing.
Peace is helping
Peace is having an ice cream.
Peace is when you are caring, respectful and responsible."

Then Bailey Pirnag came on, thanked us on behalf of the school for coming and gave us a Peace Dove from their school.

(Did I get the names right?)

Next all of us went out to hold the torch, and for a short run together.

It was now time to start making our way to Albury/Wodonga. We picked up some ice and dropped some off to the boys team ahead of us.

We sure needed cooling down!

Our first runner was out, with cool ice under the hat for a brief 3 km.

We all opted for the short distances more often as it had been a while since we had this heat.

Making it back to the car with still a little cool ice under the hat. You then had about 5 minutes to cool down before you were back out.

It was fun stepping up to the challenge.

Coming into Albury ...

... we were finished our kms just before 1 pm ...

... giving us an hour to relax in Albury, the largest town we have seen since Adelaide.

We made our way to Albury Public School. Here we would be meeting the students of the school as well as representatives from both the Wodonga Council and Albury Council, as this would see the last of the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom plaques to be placed along the Murray River. We arrived to be greeted by Alexandra from Prime 7 TV and a cameraman and reporter from the Border Mail.

It was a thrill to run in to the school with the TV cameras rolling.

Albury Public School put on a rousing reception.

Deputy Mayor Cr Ross Jackson of Albury City and Cr Michael Fraser from the City of Wodonga received the Peace Torch on behalf of their communities. They had come to here today to receive the 5th and final Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom plaque for the Murray River.

Cr Ross Jackson said a few words: he apologised that Mayor Kevin Mack could not join us as the message of the Peace Run is very close to his heart – he was the person who showed us how we can hike the last part of the Murray. Cr Ross spoke of the Peace Run and the vision that he felt was something very important in this day and also spoke of the importance of the Murray River. When he asked how many students had swum in the Murray, I looked around and all hands were raised. He commented that this alone showed how much everyone valued this River.

Then both the councillors unveiled the plaque. This plaque will be put at the Hume Dam at a beautiful location overlooking the Murray.

Grahak then spoke to the students about the Peace Run, and it was so nice to see both councillors stayed for the entire time.

When the team did the guessing game for the students I was sitting next to Alex, the reporter for Prime7. Her father is Ukrainian and she understands Russian and other European languages, so she would whisper to me all the countries as soon as each member started talking in their language. The students would have loved to have her near them as they tried to get the countries!

Kaspars was given some messages from the students for the runners:
It must be hard running in this heat so I reckon you should go for a swim in the Murray River. It would cool you down.” From Petria
“Good luck on your way to Canberra. It must be really hot running all day in this heat.” From Rachel

“To Peace Run I love what you are doing. I hope you all make it to Canberra. If I could I would join to help.” From Rebecca

Natalie Gibbons and Tom Grigg, the two School Captains, came up to receive the Certificate of Appreciation for the school and the two councillors accepted them on behalf of their respective communities.

The two councillors led the students outside ...

... to hold the torch and make their wish for peace.

I will never get tired of the magic look on a child’s face when they hold the torch for the first time.

For all the troubles of the present day, even the most pessimistic person must surely feel a sense of hope when they see such enthusiastic and sweet expressions.

As it was getting close to home time for most of the students, we had one quick run around the oval before bidding farewell to all.

As we were walking out we meet Kelly Hyman who was selling baked goods and plants for a fundraiser with two of the students, Liam Pantt and Brodie Porter. When they heard what we were doing and where we had run, they quickly put all their baked goods into a bag and pressed them into Atul’s hands! Thank you so much – they will be enjoyed all too quickly!

(Did someone mention baked goods?)

Our final destination today was the Hume Dam, to run the "Sri Chinmoy Peace River" plaque to its destined location.

With 14 km to get there we split the kms between us and got there in no time.

Lake Hume is the largest of all the reservoirs along the Murray, and the main storage for the waters which are directed westward from the Snowy River through the tunnels of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The lake holds six times the volume of water contained in Sydney Harbour.

The Hume Dam is thus the main regulating instrument, determining when and how much water flows along the Murray for virtually its entire length.

We ran in as a team.

This was a special moment for the team as even though we will continue to follow the Mighty Murray for a few more days, this plaque hand-over represented the finale of our outer offerings to this great river.

We ran down to the viewing platform that looks out over the Murray to see and hear the river.

There are some places that just plunge your mind into silence and you are in awe of your surroundings. For me this is one of those places. It’s the first time I had seen the Murray from this height, and looking down on it somehow brought its grandeur to life for me even more.

To greet us was Graham Hind, who manages the Hume Dam on behalf of NSW Water and the Murray Darling Basin Authority.

Graham graciously accepted the Peace Torch, and then the plaque recognising the proclamation of the Murray River as a Sri Chinmoy Peace River. Graham had brought the plaque himself from Canberra just the night before. Graham expressed how happy he was to have this plaque placed here, remarking how much he embraced the Peace Run and even though he could not run, he felt such a part of this event and the importance of it.

The viewing platform and surrounds at the dam will soon undergo significant redevelopment during which the plaque will find a permanent and prominent position where people can enjoy those few moments of silence and stillness.

Graham had set the plaque on a special easel mounted with retractable curtains.

He then unveiled the plaque and read its inscription.


Dedicated by the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council, 25 June 1993

The Murray River joins with hundreds of significant and inspiring landmarks, rivers, monuments, cities and nations around the world, dedicated to peace and global friendship as “Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms”. The Peace-Blossoms include Niagara Falls (Canada), the Matterhorn (Switzerland), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Mt. Fuji (Japan), Lake Baikal (Russia) and Australia’s Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Kosciuszko National Park.

The Peace-Blossoms take their name from Sri Chinmoy (1931–2007), who advocated the pursuit of inner and outer peace as a flowering of the unlimited potential of the human spirit, and the oneness of all mankind.

As the river carries life, hope and inspiration to all, so may the flow of our hearts’ aspiration sustain and nourish mankind’s eternal dream of blossoming peace.

“Peace is the beginning of love.
Peace is the completion of truth.
Peace is the return to the Source.”
– Sri Chinmoy

Today the Peace River and Peace Run became one.

Graham then told us that from where we were standing right now it was 2,222 km to the Mouth of the Murray ... and we have run that!

Graham spoke with such passion about the Murray River and how it is the lifeblood of not only the people who live along its shores but to all of Australia. As he spoke about the Mighty Murray you couldn’t help but feel his love for the river with each word he uttered. I can think of no one more appropriate to receive this plaque than Graham, whose love of this river resonated with us all. Thank you Graham, for taking care of this plaque and making sure it is installed at this most perfect location. We look forward to returning for the installation in the New Year.

Ross and Jay were also here for the unveiling and both held the Peace Torch.

As we were leaving, everyone was commenting on what a great end to the day this was. Our final plaque has made it to its new home and will be well taken care of by Graham.

We drove back to Albury to our respective accommodation places for tonight.

We offer our gratitude to Louise at the Best Western Stagecoach Motel. Louise graciously donated a room for four of boys on extremely short notice. The boys appreciated the soft beds and nicely appointed rooms.

Here met a few members of Mongols Australia motorcycle club.

André and Danny from the Central Coast supported our run by holding the torch and wished us success on our way to Canberra.

A new member?

The remainder of our boys team enjoyed the luxurious hospitality of Christine and her husband at the Murray Valley Motor Inn. The swimming was perfect for rejuvenating our weary legs.

Meanwhile Robert and Janice at Australia Park Motel kindly looked after the girls team. It was such a pleasure to meet them both, they have had this motel for 14 years and as Janice said, this is their retirement! Thank you Janice and Robert for a great night's sleep and for kindly giving us breakfast in the morning.

They also have ‘Traffic Light’, their cockatoo they rescued after it got hit by a car many years ago ...

... he loved holding the Torch!

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 137.0 km from Yarrawonga, Vic to Albury, NSW.

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