After yesterday's torrential rain, mist and cold, Thredbo turned on the weather this morning, greeting us with bright blue skies, clear views of the mountains, and a crisp cool morning.
We awoke to a "day off". No official running today, as the whole team would spend the day in Thredbo.
Our Coordinator for this region, Amalendu Edelsten, had arranged with the Thredbo Chamber of Commerce and Thredbo Resort for 10 complimentary chairlift lift passes for the Peace Run team to go up Mt Kosciuszko - Australia’s highest mountain at 2,238m.
Everyone was loving the sunshine.
The Peace Run team assembled in slightly more clothing than usual in preparation for the ascent of Kosciuszko.
We started our day by sharing the Peace Torch with Oscar Airs. Aged 5, Oscar is Nadia’s son. Nadia runs the fabulous YHA we are staying in here in Thredbo.
We crossed the bridge over to Thredbo Sport ...
... and met up with Euan, Thredbo Environment Manager; Susie, Thredbo Communications Manager, and three representatives from the Thredbo Chamber of Commerce: Ian, Phil, and Rennae.
After introducing our team we sang the Peace Run song that was composed by Peace Run Founder, Sri Chinmoy. Thredbo Resort generously donated "Kosciuszko Express" lift passes to the team, enabling a thrilling visit to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. We gladly presented our Certificates of Appreciation to both Thredbo Resort, and Thredbo Chamber of Commerce.
After valuable advice from the local experts the team said farewell and rode the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift up to Eagles Nest for the 13 km round trip to the summit.
Stunning views greeted us along with the brisk morning air.
The pleasant climb up (our biggest hill climb yet, achieved with no effort!) took us to within 6.5 km of the highest point. From here we would run to the summit.
This is something every Australian should try and do and strangely enough it is not something a lot of us think about – especially those of us from The West – but it is the highest point on our continent.
Snow! This is a far, far cry from Uluru or the Oodnadatta Track, only a few short weeks ago :-)
For much of the way, the path is covered by wire mesh that is slightly higher than the ground ...
... to prevent undergrowth damage and to make trekking easier.
At this time of year the melting snow creates streams of crystal clear water.
The temperatures can get cool with the wind, especially when you stop.
The clear mountain air was so invigorating that with each step we seemed to get stronger and I for one enjoyed this run to the top more and more as we slowly climbed up.
The climb isn’t difficult, though a reasonable fitness level is required, perhaps the ability to walk a flat 15 km or run a reasonable 10 km.
We saw people of all ages travelling up, ranging in age from 15 to 65.
We are well above the treeline now, the main feature of the landscape large boulders and rock formations.
Vistas opened out in all directions.
The path leads ever onward and upward.
Lakes of clear deep blue surround the summits.
Again, we are in another world.
The heart expands and the mind is set free.
Today marks the third time the Peace Torch has reached the summit of Mt Kosciuszko – previously ascending Australia's highest point in 1989 and again in 2008.
A pause for some snowball action.
For some reason, none of us had thought to pack our snow shoes.
For the final ascent, the path is of rock.
We reached the summit as the clouds were swirling around us and took a few moments of silence to reflect within on this journey. Not just to the top of Australia’s highest peak but also to the Heart of Australia, Uluru and along the course of Australia's lifeblood, the River Murray.
When I looked back at this run so far, it is hard to pinpoint one single moment that stands out. Each day has been so unique and special and this route that was taken for me has drawn together the Heart and Soul of this great nation and each of these Peace Runners is incredibly blessed to have been able to have carried the Peace Torch along this journey.
We stopped here for half an hour and took photos with the torch.
It felt great standing on the roof of the continent.
We were not the only ones on the summit today.
Students from Barkers College in Sydney held the Torch.
Up at the top we met Radek. Also staying at Thredbo YHA, he is aiming to climb all the highest peaks on each continent. He recently climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, which our Latvian Peace runner Kaspars also climbed (with the Peace Torch) last year.
If only we could maintain this clear summit perspective always in our day-to-day lives.
Running down was even more fun, with the sun now out and the cool air cooling us enough that we could pick up some speed and made it down in no time.
After a hot chocolate at Eagles Nest (the top of the chairlift), we all got back onto the chairlifts and make it to our home for one more night in Thredbo.
Tomorrow we resume our journey for the final, downhill run home to Canberra, the Nation's Capital.
Torch carried by Amalendu Edelsten(Australia),
Nurari Merry(Great Britain),
Prabhakar Street (Canada),
Pranava Runar Gigja(Iceland),
Stacey Marsh(New Zealand),
Sukhajata Cranfield(New Zealand),